|Radwansa and Williams courtesy Rogers Cup
What a performance. What an inspiration. What a woman. If you have no idea of whom I am speaking, then you must have been living under a rock. From the stick volley in this point and the forehand that finally made its appearance after many years in the land of the dead, Venus Williams, showed the world just how good she can be when illness and injury are made to take a back seat. Venus showed some of the best tennis of her career during last week’s Montreal tournament and while I am still disappointed with the final result, I could not be happier seeing Venus laugh and smile her way through a tournament, and having fans give her standing ovations during her performances.
Venus, at 34 years young, battling Sjorgrens Syndrome and with the will to win showed the younger generation on both Tours what it is to compete. From what I understand, there were players in both Montreal and Cincinnatti who were watching Venus’ perforamnce, especialy her match against Angelique Kerber.
As a die-hearted Venus fan, I was warm and tingly all over watching her win 3 set match after 3 set match and competing as she used to do in her heyday. From beating the No. 1 player in the world, to out defending one of the best defenders on Tour, Venus Williams shows what determination and fight are all about.
Kudos to Aga Radwanska for winning her first title of the season in what was surely turning out to be a disapppointing campaign for her.
THIS AND THAT
The WTA’s Stacey Allaster came under fire recently when it was intimated that the WTA would pay for the passage of Genie’s Army to fly to Singapore if Bouchard made the cut for the Year End Championships (YEC). While what Allaster said could be misconstrued, the fact that tennis fans were in an uproar over this shows how much interest is now being paid to the WTA and the way it markets its players. Allaster has shown little or no objectivity when it comes to marketing Bouchard as the face or new face of women’s tennis. From having her be among the legends of the sport during the WTA’s celebration at Wimbledon commemorating 40 years of the WTA, to anointing her the next best thing, Allaster has not done much to separate her role as head of women’s tennis as against that of fellow Canadian citizen of Bouchard. She needs to learn there are 2 roles and unfortunately for her, she can only wear one at this particular point in time.
Pam Shriver and the talking heads at ESPN need to let certain narratives go. They should either want on-court coaching to be a staple of women’s tennis, or they should continue to encourage the women to use on-court coaching as a way to problem solve while on court. can’t have it both ways. On more than one occasion those in the booths have spoken disparagingly of the women who call their coach down court side for coaching. In the same breath they advocate its use and sing from the mountain tops how this and that player has benefited from on court coaching, while in the same breath stating that this and that player relies too much on the coach coming down. Hey people, pick a side and stick to it.
On the same topic, it has been 20 years since Venus Williams joined the women’s Tour. In all that time she has never once stepped away from the baseline to receive serve. Matters not who the opponent is. Venus is going to stand on the baseline for the first serve, and inside on the second serve. When Venus does that, and it works, she is brilliant. When she does it, and it does not work, she is stupid and should step back. Again, commentators pick a side and stick with it. You can’t have it both ways.
It would seem as if there are people who are upset at ESPN’s coverage of the women’s final from Montreal and moreso the alleged one-sidedness of it all. I would take those complaints seriously if but for the fact that this happens all the time. How many times have I sat and watched a tennis match when certain players are on the court and you would swear that that player is playing herself. A case in point is the one-sided commentary during Bouchard’s match against American Shelby Rogers. It was not until almost the final game when it was clear that Rogers was going to win that match that Brett Haber and Lindsay Davenport actually inserted Rodgers’ resume into the conversation. At one point, the commentary became so nauseous that I took to Twitter to air my grouses (as you do these days).
WTA AND ITS NON-MARKETING MARKETING
Sometimes it seems to me as if the WTA has a type and that type is blonde. From Tracy Austin to Chris Evert down to Wozniacki, Sharapova and now Bouchard. I can’t ever recall seeing this much hue and cry being made over Sanchez-Vicario, Davenport, the Williams Sisters and Hingis. The former have always been classified as the “face” of the sport. When I look at the Original 9 women who started the WTA, none of them looked like the ones that are being bandied about as the face of women’s tennis.
Frankly, if I am being honest, the Original 9 looked rather like the latter set of women (barring one or two blondes in the group). The current WTA leadership would do well to remember what was the mission of the Original 9 women who started the WTA. It was about empowering every single woman in professional tennis, not just a few. It was about giving every woman who swung a racquet a chance to have her skills respected, not by what she looked like, but by what she did. It was to see her as society had never seen her before, as someone whose skills were to be compensated, not because of how she looked, but because of what she did.
A little bird has told me that Etienne Dumas who was rumoured to be working with Sloane Stephens before she took on Thomas Hogstedt is set to announce a major development with a top junior player. I also understand that there are also plans afoot for Mr. Dumas to sign on with a new agent. This can only mean that Mr. Dumas, long regarded by the tennis community as an exceptional coach, may be on his way to finally being recognised in tennis circles. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.