By all accounts it has been a very successful spring time for the WTA’s World’s No 1 Serena Williams.  By now everyone has learned that Serena Williams has returned to the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, ending a 14 year boycott.   At that tournament she was slated to face in the semifinals No. 3 seed, and the last woman to have beaten her at an official tournament, Simona Halep.  Williams withdrew due to a knee injury. Halep would go on to beat Jelena Jankovic in a 3 set thriller.   Fast forward to Miami and Serena and Halep were again slated to meet in the semifinals.  This time there were no withdrawals and it was well worth the wait.  It was without a doubt the match of the tournament on either the men’s and women’s side with Serena overcoming Halep 7-5 in the third after serving for the match up 5-3.  It was without a doubt a thrilling affair.

In the finals, Serena met newly minted top 10 player, Carla Suarez-Navarro, who was seeking to become one of a handful of players who had beaten both Venus and Serena at the same tournament.  She had a 0-4 record against Serena heading into this final and the results, as many expected was the same with Serena winning comfortably 6-2, 6-0 for her record 8th Miami Open title and leading the season undefeated heading into the European clay swing.  

Miami Doubles 

Since teaming up at the beginning of this year, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza have remained unbeaten.  When you find a good partner, it makes everything seem so simple. 

Spin’s Player of the week is Serena Williams. 

Honorable mention

Carla Suarez Navarro. She made her first Premier mandatory final defeating Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus Williams, rallying from 0-6 to get the job done and Andrea Petkovic. This result also got her in the Top 10 for the first time in her career.  May she reside there for quite some time. 

Simona Halep – Making the semifinals after winning her first Premier mandatory title at Indian Wells. Her fourteen match winning streak was stopped by Serena Williams late in the third set after rallying to tie the match.

Previous player of week
Week 12: Sloane Stephens – Having three solid wins including defeating Madison Keys, AO SF, in process
Week 11: Simona Halep – Indian Wells winner defeating Jelena Jankovic
Week 10: Heather Watson – Getting first Top 10 win of career defeating Agnieszka Radwanska
Week 9: Timea Bacsinszky – Monterrey winner defeating Caroline Garcia
Week 8: Lucie Safarova – Doha winner defeating Victoria Azarenka
Week 7: Karolina Pliskova – Dubai finalist losing to Simona Halep
Week 6: Daniela Hantuchova – Pattaya winner defeating Ajla Tomljanovic.
Week 5: Andrea Petkovic – Led Germany to Fed Cup semifinals
Week 4: Serena Williams – Australian Open winner defeating Maria Sharapova
Week 3: Madison Keys – Defeated two seeds including Petra Kvitova, who was seeded 4
Week 2: Heather Watson – Hobart winner defeating Madison Brengle
Week 1: Venus Williams – Auckland winner defeating Caroline Wozniacki

This and That 

I watch a lot of tennis.  I am currently watching the Katowice match between Alison Van Uytanck and Rybarikova.   It is a pretty good match and the commentator is loving the match.  I suspect that Van Uytanck, a player many had not heard about before she played Serena Williams this year at the Australian Open has a really good game and I am hoping that she is able to move up more in the rankings so that folks can get more looks at her game and her talent. 

The above comment was made by a member of the tennis media after Sunday’s final between Djokovic and Murray.  While I hardly ever watch men’s matches, I tuned in this Sunday to support Murray because unlike others, he fully supports women’s tennis and has defended the sport on many occassions.  For that he gets honourable mentions on this blog.  However, while many lauded Djokovic’s performance over the last few weeks (he remains undefeated on the year), citing the quality of the field, for Serena Williams, the No. 1 on the women’s side, who has also gone undefeated, the commentary is not the same.  Djokovic bagelled his opponent in the third set, as did Serena.  However, the comments about the WTA are more likened to the opinion that she has no rivals.  As a friend of  mine opined recently, if Serena has no rivals, then against whom is she playing?  I submit that we are seeing 2 athletes who are without a doubt the best in their sport.  Serena at 33 years old is dominating the field, using all the weapons at her disposal. Frankly, she should be lauded and fellow players should aspire to be what she has become. Maybe one of the reasons why Djokovic has been able to dominate in the way that he has is because there is little or no competition amongst the ATP.

As Andrew Burton has opined on many occassions, the ATP Dark Ages is coming and this opinion which is being stated as fact that the ATP is a better drawing card in tennis than the women is an opinion which needs to be debunked.  

Grunting in Tennis 

When the media get on their soapbox about the everlasting grunting issue, they need to be told that they are the ones who wield the pens (or in this case the keyboard) and it is up to them to speak about the inequality in covering the grunting debate.  When the men do it, write about them and call them out in the same way that you do the women.  It is only fair. 

Serena the bully 

Words are powerful. Writers know this.  Empires have crumbled as a result of words. There is a proverb that says “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.  That is the biggest lie.  Words do hurt.  During Serena Williams’ career she has been called many things and over the years she has been likened to things or objects that are not pleasant.  At a time when Serena should now be known for what she does on the court, the words that are used to describe her are still insulting today as they were years ago.  Intimidating, overpowering, smothering and now bully.  Mr. Bryant insists that he was not calling Serena a bully.  That may not have been the intent, but why play into the prejudices of many people who already feel as if Serena is a bully.   Here are a few other words that Mr. Bryant could have used to describe Serena: fighter, competitor, strategic, imposing.  These are all words that have a different meaning than the world bully.  If there was any bullying happening during the match between Serena Williams and Simona Halep, which is when that comment was made, then it was the Halep fans who kept shouting during the points, who decided that chanting Halep’s name during the middle of Serena’s service games and who had to be ask to be quiet on numerous occassions by the chair umpire.  This is not Halep’s fault, but the bullying tactics that were clearly evident during the match was not only disconcerting to Serena but to the chair umpire and to those of us who were watching.   

Women’s tennis has come a long way.  The women have had to fight every step of the way to get where they are now.  The media needs to do a better job of making sure that the right message is delivered where coverage is concerned. 

Next week’s matches are the Katowice Open and Charleston.   Lindsay Gibbs of The Changeover will be doing media for that blog and you should give Lindsay a follow @linzsports and follow the Changeover blog here

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