WHEN ALMOST NOTHING HAPPENED

Hi, my name is bridgepea and I am a WTA Tennis Addict. 
How do I know that I am a WTA Tennis Addict?  Consider the following:-
·         I know the time difference between where I live and Baku
·         I know where Baku is
·         I systematically convert foreign currency to US currency in order to figure out how much stuff costs
·         I Google the area that is hosting a WTA tournament to see how I can get there
·         I tweet about random matches
·         I subscribe to various sites that show tennis year round, even Challenger matches
 

During the past week I thought I would have a tennis let down from Wimbledon, but it was not to be. I watched Lesia Tsurenko claim her first WTA title, beating Ursula Radwanska in a gripping match, at least for the first set.


Over in Bad Gastein, Samantha Stosur won her second title of the season, beating Karin Knapp, who had to double up, having had her semifinal postponed due to rain.  Knapp only has herself to blame for failing to win the title as she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. 

Some folks refer to this part of the season as Vulture Season.  This is due to the fact that it is at this time of the year, and other times, when the rank and file players earn a bit of money.  It is also that time when the top players earn their appearance fees.  Surely that is the only reason why Jelena Jankovic is all the way in China for a US$125K event, unless she is there promoting the Tour, in which case, the Spin apologies profusely. 

I kind of like this time of the year as it gives me a chance to watch tennis without having a vested interest in the outcome.  I am also quite happy to see players that I have never heard of, or who I have heard of but never seen play, either because they are on an outside court where there is no tv, or they are not facing a top player.  

I have to say that kudos to the WTA for its deal with Perform.  While some matches are not broadcast on TennisTV, you can find these matches on other platforms, which is good for the sport as it offers more visibility for the women who would not otherwise get that visibility. 

This week sees WTA tournaments in:
·         Baku (H)  – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the No. 1 seed and Karin Knapp is seeded No. 2. 
·         Brasil Tennis Cup (C) – Tatjana Maria is the No. 1 seed and Alja Tomljanovic is seeded No. 2 – great chance for either of these women to raise their rankings and win a title in the process
·         Nanchang (H) – Jelena Jankovic is the top seed with Saisai Zheng being the No. 2 seed.


WHY I AM DONE WITH BODY IMAGE GATE

by Karen

There is a saying, “you reap what you sow”.

For years tennis has sold the women who compete in this sport in every which way other than as athletes.  They have been labelled as sex objects (Kournikova), cute (Tracy Austin), America’s darling  (Chris Evert), classy (Sharapova), gorgeous (Ivanovic), sexy (Hantuchova).  The list goes on and on.  All the women above are accomplished in their own right, whether it be singles champions or doubles champions (in the case of Kournikova).  All these women were remarkable athletes and competitors.  However, the media and tennis fans alike chose to label them a certain way and as athletes next.

When the Williams Sisters came along it was the part of a changing dynamic in women’s tennis.  No longer was the game played with wooden racquets and 90 mph first serves.  There was grunting (Seles), serves hit at 115 mph, ground strokes at warp speed and movement across the court, the likes of which had never been seen before on a tennis court.  While Davenport, Capriati and Seles were changing the way how women’s tennis was viewed, over in Compton Richard Williams was moulding 2 young women to be champions of the sport.  The first to make her debut was Venus. Tall, soft spoken, aloof.  The media did not know how to deal with Venus or indeed the Williams family.  It got even more difficult for the media when Richard opined that if they think Venus was good, they should see Serena.  She was better and meaner than Venus.  The media of course salivated (or was it rolled their eyes) at this bit of hubris.

Fast forward almost 20 years and Serena has proven her father correct.  She stands on the cusp of the best season of her career.  She is one Grand Slam win away from tying the record of the great Steffi Graf, a player who did not overawe the press with her personality and who, like Serena, was dominant during her time at the top.

At a time when the media should be celebrating the awesome career of Serena Williams. At a time when people should be wondering whether they can get tickets to her matches at the US Open, all we are hearing and seeing and reading is talk about an article written by Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times.  While there is lots to disagree with in that article, I think Mr. Rothenberg is being made the scapegoat as a result of a larger meme that has permeated how women’s tennis and in particular how Serena Williams has been covered.

Scour the internet and you can find thousands of articles from the mainstream media that try to describe Serena.  From beast, powerful, savage, brutal, towering, intimidating.  These are the words that have been used in the past to describe her game..  In addition to that many in the not so mainstream media use more descriptive words to describe her.  From describing her game as animalistic, to describing her opponents as dainty, words have been used to malign the career of this great champion.

There are many who are using this body image article to talk about sexism in tennis, to talk about homophobia, transphobia, racism etc.  Lost in all of this is that this has been happening for years. Serena’s career has always been overshadowed by narratives that try to put her in her place, rather than lift her up.  I, and I am sure many others, are understandably sick and tired of the same narrative about Serena. Right now I am sick and tired of listening to people attempting to defend Serena.  You are not helping.  Frankly, from where I am sitting, the defenders have now become part of the problem.   When something as serious as body image is now the brunt of jokes on late night tv, it has for me lost all relevance and frankly, this was not funny.

As Serena attempts to equal Graf’s record, as she attempts to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam, let us not make her career about something as insignificant as her body.  Let us make the conversation about Serena be about Serena.  Let it be about her tennis.  Let it be about how a young girl from Compton, California overcame insurmountable odds and is ruling a sport which was always reserved for those of privilege.  Let us not make this possible achievement be about everyone else, but let it be about Serena.  She has worked hard and is working hard to achieve a dream.  Let us not derail it by making it about anything else.  
Frankly, if people want to change the narrative on women’s tennis and how it is covered here are a few suggestions

WTA, SPONSORS AND ADVERTISERS:
  • encourage commentators to stop referring to professional athletes as girls
  • disband on court coaching.  Having some old man come down court side and hold the hands of a professional athlete is not a good look for the sport
  • market the women as athletes, always.  No ifs, ands or buts.  That is what they are.  If they want to be considered models, someone should tell them that they are in the wrong line of work 
  • encourage the media to end the grunting debate.  It is silly and it is not going anywhere 
FANS AND MEDIA

  • get to know the players.  It is not all about personalities.  They are human beings with thoughts and feelings.  They are also incredibly intelligent
  • not every tennis player is from an English speaking country.  They come from all walks of life.  Learn to pronounce their names and find out a little bit about them, especially when they turn up playing an English speaking player on Centre Court and you have to try to pronounce her name
  • try not to make fun of the empty stands at women’s events.  Times are hard the world over and disposable income is not so easily obtained.  Enjoy the match.  Tweet wonderful things about the players and the match.  The players do read Twitter and they do like to see the positive feedback about their matches. 
  • Try not to be like Barry Flatman.  Don’t send nasty tweets to players.  Not even Tara Moore deserved the nasty tweets that she got during the French Open.  
  • Encourage your fellow tennis friends to tune in to watch a player that no one has ever heard about.  Remind them that this is why Simona Halep is so popular. We knew her before the world did.  
  • Bloggers, feature one player each week on your blog who is ranked outside the top 100 who you think will make it big. Try to get in touch with her management company or send questions and get an interview.  You will pat yourself on the back when she is ranked in the top 100. 
Any other ideas, sound off in the comments.  

LADY SAW, FEMINISM AND DANCEHALL

Marion Hall aka Lady Saw

With these words Marion Hall aka Lady Saw launched herself into the consciousness of the Jamaican people.  She was raw.  She was uninhibited.  She spoke about sex like no one before her, except for Shabba Ranks.  She took what the men were saying, threw it back in their faces and made it her own.
From telling men what she wanted them to do to her “Stab up mi meat
To letting them know that now is the time
Its raining my body is calling, I am in need of my darling, me well want the fire under me herring”.
To challenging them as to whether or not they were worthy of her body
Baby are you up for this give me all that slamming so that I can turn and twist”. 
And then she got truly romantic but her message was always clear
 There was outrage.  She was disrespecting women.  She was disrespecting herself.  How dare she call a man on stage and proceed to show him just how much she wanted to feel him inside her.  Before there was 50 Shades of Grey, there was Lady Saw.  An artiste extraordinaire. 
Lady Saw has been vilified in the media, most notably the Jamaican media.  She has been banned from countries because of her lyrics and her on court performances, however, like good wine she just keeps coming back.  There were even calls by the local Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce to ban her from ever performing in that city ever again.   
Her personal life story reflects the personal life stories of many women.  You find a man, you give him your all and he turns around and cheats on you.  You say that you are finished, but there is an attraction there that you can’t resist and so you keep going back for more.  A bad relationship is akin to a moth to a flame.  No matter how much the moth gets burned, it is attracted to the flame and so it keeps going back until it is burnt to a crisp.
Why am I writing about Lady Saw on today of all days?  Because for the first time in the history of reggae and dancehall music, a female artiste was allowed to close Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest on Thursday (16 July 2015).  To understand how truly historic this is, there have been artistes who do not have the catalogue of music that Lady Saw has in her arsenal who have closed Dancehall Night in years past.  It is a testament to Lady Saw’s longevity as well as the turning tide in the Jamaican music culture that this has been allowed to happen.   As a dancehall artiste in Jamaica, there are 2 shows at which artistes perform from which they can tell whether they have been accepted by the Jamaican public or not.  The first is Sting, which is held in December each year.  Sting, has over the years made or break careers.   Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest is the other event.  For the organisers to have invited Lady Saw to close the show speaks to the stature with which she is held in Jamaican dancehall circles.  
As someone who has been a huge fan of Dancehall and in particular Lady Saw for more years than I care to remember, my only regret is that I was not there to witness this truly historic occasion.
Lady Saw you will forever be my inspiration.  Continue to do what you do.  Continue to inspire other female artistes, even though they will never deign to give you your due. Continue to be you.

SW21

by Karen 

I honestly have no idea what to say.  There are no words to describe the force that is Serena Jameka Williams. To say that she is the greatest tennis player that ever held a racquet would be to engage in hyperbole, but Serena’s career is hyperbolic.  It requires accolades that my limited vocabulary cannot at this point comprehend.   Sometimes when words are not enough, or when you can’t find the words to say, then you either let others who are much better wordsmiths do that job for you.  You can also use pictures to describe exactly how you are feeling today as Serena Williams, youngest daughter of Richard Williams and Oracene Price did the Serena Slam, 12 years after she did it the first time.  

In the words of Sue Barker, ladies and gentlemen I present to you, the 2015 Wimbledon Ladies Singles Champion, Ms. Serena Williams 



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For the Fans


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The Opponents 


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Through the Years 


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Career in Pictures 


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LADIES SEMIFINAL REVIEW

by Karen 


My friend Jewell (a real Cracked Gem that one) wrote today on Twitter whether there had been any good pieces resulting from today’s Ladies Semifinal Day. I thought to myself, oh no, poor Jewell, I should probably get cracking and write something really positive and uplifting about the women’s semifinals.  Unfortunately, I was not able to write this early enough as I did not get a chance to watch the match live, having been stuck in an eye doctor’s office we will talk about getting to old age in another post) and so I was confined to following the match via Twitter and the Wimbledon app.
Needless to say it was a nail biter of a match.   In terms of the second semifinal, I caught the match from 4-1 Serena in the first set and as most of us expected, this was a routine affair for the World’s No.1 against the soon to be No. 2 on the WTA rankings. The final score line for the second semifinal really does not tell the true story of how this match played out.  For all her fight, Sharapova just does not have the weapons, skills or ability to defeat Williams and frankly, even if she did, I don’t think that Serena will ever allow that to happen.  It is just not in her make up to ever let 2004 be revisited.  The final of the Championships on the ladies’ side should be a good battle as even though Serena leads the head to head 2-1, Muguruza is one of those young players who hits hard and flat off the ground and who has beaten Serena on a big stage before, most notably a 6-2, 6-2 drubbing at the French Open in 2014. 
Muguruza has shown this fortnight that she has the game to go all the way to the big titles, but this fortnight she has shown that she also has the mental focus to stay in matches, even when her game is falling apart.  In her match against Kerber, she saved multiple set points by going for her shots and not being afraid to go big.  Much like in her match against Kerber, she had a let down in the second set today, but righted the ship just when her opponent, Radwanska was making inroads into the match.  Muguruza will have to be able to keep that mental focus all throughout her match against Serena if she hopes to pull off what will no doubt be a very famous victory and holding up her first of what will no doubt be many Grand Slam titles. 

While re-watching the second semifinal, I took the opportunity to listen to the commentary as it really does give some insight into how commentators, viz-a-viz tennis fans watch matches.  John McEnroe, for all that he has accomplished in this sport is a horrible commentator.  He really does not add much of value to what is happening on the court, which is a real pity, as I think that for someone who has actually competed in this sport and who has performed under pressure, and without a doubt has suffered some form of injury during his tennis career, his inability to really give thoughtful and relevant analysis on today’s players really makes my blood, and those of other tennis fans boil.  
His inability to have valid talking points, while true in the men’s game, becomes even more apparent when he has to do commentary during a women’s match.  During the Serena/Maria match, while there was not much in the way of commentary that could be provided, the talking points were in my view limited and fans sitting at home would think that the only that was happening was Serena serving Maria off the court.  She was doing that, but that was not the only thing she was doing. 
I find that many tennis commentators when they are calling a match with Serena focus on her serve and her power and attribute her wins solely to this aspect of her game.  They ignore the mental part of her game, which for me is her biggest asset, and focus solely on the physical aspect.  In rewatching the replay of the second semifinal, I was drawn to Lindsay Davenport’s discussion with Bill MacAtee and Martina Navratilova.   Prior to the match, Lindsay went and looked at old videos of Sharapova’s matches as she wanted to see for herself what has happened with Sharapova’s game since her last win over Serena.  Davenport has put to rest the narrative that it was as a result of the shoulder surgery that Sharapova had in 2008 why her serve, which was once a weapon has become so ineffective.  Davenport was of the view that it was not the surgery that had impacted Sharapova’s serve but that her ball toss has become very ineffective.  She opined that because her ball toss is a good 12 inches higher than what it was in 2004, Sharapova’s contact point had become less reliable, which has led to a weaker and more ineffective serve.  
Final Preview 
For the first time I can say that a Grand Slam final featuring Serena Williams and a first time finalist is not a given.  Separate and apart from the fact that Muguruza has beaten Serena in a Slam, there is also the fact that Muguruza has the game that can trouble Serena if she comes out cold or anxious.  I don’t think that Muguruza will be having butterflies when she takes the Court on Saturday.  She will be full of vim and vigour and ready to take down Serena, much in the same way that she did in Paris.  In addition to that she will have the SW19 crowd who, for whatever reason, seem to adore an underdog at these events. 
However, this is Serena we are talking about.  She is playing for what will without a doubt be the biggest event to happen to tennis in a long time.  The chance to win all 4 Slams in a calendar year and achieve the Calendar Year Grand Slam.  Since this season has started, Serena has been playing with this achievement on her mind.  As she has struggled through each of the Slams so far, and in particular at this event, she has spoken of the pressure of what she is trying to do.  In Paris it took her 3 sets to accomplish stage 2 of this lofty goal.  If she wants to avoid the upset bug, she will need to race out of the blocks and command the court like no one else can.  She will need to take the crowd out of the match and make SW19 her very own ground.  She will need to ensure that Muguruza knows that today is not her day but that her time will come.  
Prediction:  Too close to call 
Trolls in Tennis
It used to be that an internet troll was usually someone who would come in and post something derogatory into a conversation just to put the attention on themselves rather than whatever discussion was happening at that time.  An internet troll is defined as “a person whose sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the internet over extremely trivial issues”.  The unfortunate thing about tennis internet trolls is that they usually only come out when women’s matches are being played.  Tennis internet trolls usually have an MO and it goes something like this
Equal Prize Money trolls
·         Woman tennis player serves up a double fault on break point
·         Women’s match lasts under an hour
·         Empty stands at a women’s match
·         Female player retires
·         Every single woman’s tennis match at a Grand Slam (usually said by a man who has lobbied to get a whole bunch of money for losing first round at every Grand Slam)
Grunting Trolls
·         Intense 3 set match with 20 shot rallies that has crowd on the edge of their seats
·         This goes to every single WTA match, no matter whether the woman is grunting or not
No one watches women’s tennis trolls.
This is my favourite of all the trolls.  The reason why this particular troll is my favourite is because I can always rebut his argument with facts.  This particular troll which usually comes in the form of Sergiy Stakhovsky (an ATP player who has won 4 ATP titles, the last of which came 5 years ago.  Stakhovsky is the ultimate internet tennis troll especially of women’s tennis.  Mr. Stakhovsky has a lot of time on his hands.  Frankly, as a husband, father and member of the ATP Player Council and professional athlete, he has way too much time on his hands.  He opens his mouth at the most inopportune times and says the most outrageous things, frankly not because he has anything of note to say, but because he has too much time on his hands. 
I will not reiterate everything that he has said in the last 24 hour news cycle because it will just add grist to the mill.  The fact is that the negativity that he exudes when it concerns women’s tennis concerns me and it concerns me because this is not the first time that he has uttered negativity about the women’s Tour and it will not be the last.  I understand that he is scheduled to have a sit down with Martina regarding his comments.  Good luck with that.  
The last time Mr. Stakhovsky did anything of note was when he last won a title in 2010.  That was 5 years ago. Subsequent to that he beat an injured Federer at Wimbledon.  This is the man who his fellow players elected to the ATP Player Council to represent their interests.  Like I said, way too much time on his hands.  
I just want to point out to Sergei that maybe women’s tennis is not popular where he is from but the ratings for the last 4 Grand Slams have shown that the women’s game is so much more popular than the men.  At every single Grand Slam stop for the past 2 seasons, the women have outshone the men in terms of the quality of the matches and the depth of talent that resounds on the WTA Tour. 
When you have 4 men dominating your sport, so much so that when someone else has a breakthrough and wins a Major, he gets on the cover of magazines, then you know your sport is in trouble.  No one turns up to watch Sergei play.  No one even turns up to watch Raonic play.  No one cares too much about the guys ranked 6-10 on the ATP World Tour.  They care about the men ranked 1-4.  That is it. 
Stakovsky is the ultimate troll.  He keeps hijacking the women’s event during Grand Slam play and I for one am sick of it.  Frankly, I am sick of people hijacking the women’s event at Grand Slams with idiotic trolling.  First it was Martina Navratilova and Rob Koenig and their ridiculous discussion about players disrespecting fans by wearing headphones while they are entering the court, as if players have time to recognize fans when they are in the moment preparing for competition.  Then there was the idiotic question and answer session that Azarenka and Serena had to endure after their 3 set quarter-final marathon.
For today, when 4 women were going through their own Survivor moment to have a chance to play for history, here comes the British press with their tributes to female “we don’t get along because you are a volcano and I am pretty” narrative to talk about the Serena/Sharapova match.  Women’s tennis deserves better than this.  Frankly, half of the articles seem to be written sometimes with the sole aim of discrediting Player A over Player B but it makes the whole sport look bad and women’s tennis is not bad.  Women’s tennis is strong.  It is powerful.  It is enduring. 
I am particularly loving the fact that the women, for the first time that I can recall are no longer shying away from engaging with the press and telling them that their narratives about women’s tennis need to stop.  No longer are they willing to sit in the chairs and be ambushed into talking about grunting, screaming, court assignments, ex-boyfriends (he is an ex for a reason and therefore no longer relevant).  
News you can use 
If you have not already done so, you need to give a listen to the Reals Tennis Podcast.  It is the only tennis podcast that is broadcast live and gives you the listener a chance to air your views about what’s happening in tennis.   Bookmark the channel, listen to it at your leisure.  Do not listen while driving.  
@stephintheUS has a very interesting radio show that she does on Pro Tennis Radio on Thursdays at 8:30 CT that focuses strictly on the women’s game. I joined her last night to talk about all things women’s tennis, coaching and the young ones.  You should listen. 


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There was an interesting article from the New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg on how players perceive their bodies on the women’s tour. If you have not read it already, it is required reading.  Please see link here. 


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Enjoy the final everyone, it should be a very good one.   


LADIES SEMIFINAL PREVIEW

by Karen 

It is Ladies Semifinal Day. Tennis’ own version of Final 4.  However, in this scenario it won’t be the player who wins immunity who gets to choose who sits beside her at the final Tribal Council, rather it will be the 2 players who play the best tennis who will get a chance to vie for one of the most coveted trophies in all of tennis, the  Venus Rosewater Dish.
What are the chances of the women who will be vying for this trophy?  How did they get here?  Who will be overcome by the occasion to really lift their games and take one step closer to having their name remembered for all eternity.

Aga Radwanska.  2015 has not been a good year for Aga.  After being in the top 10 for close to 5 years, Aga has seen her ranking drop outside the top 10 for the first time in ages.  In addition to being out of the top 10, her coaching partnership with Martina Navratilova came to an abrupt end with both parties calling it a mutual decision. Aga’s resurgence on what is her avowed favourite surface is remarkable.  Recall that it was only a week before this event started that she lost out to Belinda Bencic in Eastbourne, suffering a bagel in the deciding set.  Since that time Aga has played under the radar and now finds herself with the chance to get to the final for the first time since her heroics in 2012.

Garbine Muguruza.  Every year tennis has its own breakout player.  This year is no different.  Last year we had Bouchard and Halep.  This year we have had Keys and Safarova.  Now it is Muguruza’s time to shine.  Playing for Spain via Venezuela, Muguruza has shown a fighting mentality that has often not shown up in tournament play.  Her battle against No. 6 seed was one of the best matches of the Championships. It was not only about the match play but it was her ability to come good on the big points which will cement her status as a star in the making if she is able to get through Radwanska.  The head to head is tied at 2 a piece. 
This is Muguruza’s first time in this situation.  However, she has experience of playing big name players on the big stages and she is not afraid of getting down and dirty.  She will attempt to blow Radwanska off the court and as we have seen in matches that feature the Pole, that is not the way to win against her.   Muguruza will have to show some amount of variety, use her big ground strokes to come in and use her great volley skills that she has perfected in doubles to move forward.
This will be a tight match but I expect Radwanska to use her experience to come through in 3 tough sets.

Maria Sharapova – what else can be said of the Russian that has not already been said.  A champion here in 2004, Sharapova has only been to one other final and that was in 2011 when she lost to Kvitova.  This is her first time in the second week since 2011.  She was tested fiercely by Vandeweghe in her quarter final match but came through down the stretch.  She has not had a hard time getting to this stage of the Championships so she will be fresh and eager to go. She has not been playing her best tennis but she has competed fiercely (as she does) to make it through to face what is undoubtedly the worst opponent that anyone who is looking to win this trophy could ever imagine.

Serena Williams – History is on the line.  The pressure of the moment has without a doubt made itself known to the younger Ms. Williams.  She said after her match against Venus that she believes her tournament has just begun.  The mental side of this battle in this tournament was out of the way.  Now comes the physical side of the battle. 
Most pundits would have you believing that Serena has a clear path to the trophy.  After all she owns Sharapova 17-2 as she does Radwanska.  Muguruza, even though she has beaten Serena, is a novice at this so will probably be too scared to play.  However, the law of averages is always there.  No match is a given.  No match is a cake walk.  Can Sharapova beat Serena at this point in a tournament when Serena holds such a commanding lead in their head to heads?  Can Serena lose at this point in a tournament when her career match record in semifinals is a ridiculous 24-3?   With that kind of record, you can imagine that she will be coming out satisfied in the knowledge that at this point in a tournament, it will be hers to lose. The law of averages will at some point kick in.  Unfortunately for Sharapova I just don’t think that this Wimbledon will be it.  
Serena in straight sets.

OF NARRATIVES, STORYLINES AND THE WTA

by Karen 

We are nearing the end of the journey for 4 players today as the women’s quarter-final of The Championships, Wimbledon was played today.  After Manic Monday, I always feel as if Ladies Tuesday is the calm after the storm.   The story lines for me that always headline Ladies Day is which of the 8 players had the easiest match physically and who will be well prepared to play back to back matches, the only time in these Championships that anyone is required to do so (unless of course you are Novak Djokovic).

Today 8 women, the final 8 out of a 128 player draw took to the courts to vie for a spot in the final 4.  Sounds like an episode of Survivor and frankly this is what these Championships are.  It is tennis’ own version of Survivor.  With the exception of the Timea/Garbine match, every single one of these matches went to 3 sets.  The upstart of this final 8 was Coco Vandeweghe.  Long considered a prodigy of the California tennis establishment, Coco has seen her game revived in leaps and bounds. 1 year removed from winning her first WTA Tour title, Coco finally made her way past the third round of a Major for the first time in her career.  She did so by taking out seeded players along the way and pushed 2004 champion Maria Sharapova to 3 sets.

Not to be outdone, Madison Keys pushed her way to a third set against 2012 finalist, Aga Radwanska.  Using her new found confidence, huge serves and even bigger groundstrokes, Keys did all she could to make her way into the final 4, but as with Coco it was not meant to be.  All in all for me it was a great showing by 2 youngsters who were pitting their skills against veterans of this fantastic sport.

However, before play even commenced, Djokovic, current ATP NO. 1 and defender of this title took to the court to finish his round of 16 match.  There were many in tennis land who felt that Djokovic’s one set would overshadow the women’s final 8 tournament.  I don’t know which tournament they have been watching, but if one set of tennis is going to overshadow a block buster day of tennis, then the women need to pack their bags and cede their position.

By the end of the day’s events, no one remembered that Djokovic had played 1 set of tennis.  No one remembered that men’s doubles were being played.  What everyone will remember was the scintillating and dare I say exciting matches that were played by all 8 women who took to the court today.



Garbine Muguruza from Spain by way of Venezuela, made her way to the final 4 by hitting big and showing us that her mental game that she used to good effect against Angelique Kerber was still intact.  She needed that and then some to take out Swiss Miss Timea Bascinszky in a thrilling straight set win.  


Maria Sharapova served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.  She would get broken and then lose a tight tiebreak to force a decider.  She prevailed in 3 but it was not without drama as there were allegations of poor sportsmanship levelled against her by Vandeweghe. .


Over on Court 1, Aga Radwanska, a finalist here in 2012 had her hands full in trying to overcome Madison Keys.  She prevailed in 3 tough sets.  Her tears of joy after winning told you what this win meant for her.

Whitney Houston said it best.  I am saving all my love for you.  The WTA as it does so well at these events, saved the best for last.  Serena Williams going up against Victoria Azarenka.  Like true love, it is always important to wait for the right one to come along.


From the sound of the first ball leaving the racquet of Azarenka to the first winner of the match, hit by Serena Williams, we all knew that we would be on the ride of our lives.  Crisp clean hitting, big serving, magnificent rallies.  This match had it all and then some.  There were emotions.  Emotions of the highest order.  In fact, it could not be a Vika//Serena match without a code violation for audible obscenity.  These two women really do bring out the best and worst in each other.


When the stories of their lives are written and their tennis careers are over, the stories will be that Serena had a massive head to head over Azarenka.  However, that will never tell the true story as this is really our generation’s Evert/Navratilova moment.  It had everything because at the end of the day these are 2 of the fiercest competitors on the WTA but at the end, the hug at the net showed us how much love and respect these 2 women had for each other.

But, despite all of that, despite all of the great tennis that was played today, this is what the journalists in attendance at the press conferences chose to magnify and this is what happened on Twitter after 8 women showcased their talent for all the world to see:

Headphone Gate



Grunting Debate

And since this is Wimbledon, where would we be without the everlasting grunting ,shrieking, screaming debate. However, this time around, Azarenka was not having any of it and she let the press in the media center know her thoughts. It was great.

For all the success that she has had on the women’s tour, I find Martina’s comments about today’s game and today’s players quite intolerable. The women get a bad rap all the time and they have to fight against the sexism in how their chosen profession is covered, I mean seriously, most of the people who write about tennis for the major news outlets are white and male. It does not help that fans get fed this steady diet of the men’s game being far superior to the women’s game. Paulsen survey says that is a damn lie as for the last 3 or 4 Slams the women’s have outranked the men in terms of popularity. Why then must we continue to hear this negative press surrounding the women? Why, after a wonderful Ladies Day, when 8 women competed to the best of their ability to move one step further in a tournament beloved by all, should the narrative be about headphones and grunting?

Rob Koenig, no fan of the women’s game, came out in support of Martina’s comment about the wearing of headphones. Most fans out in Twitterland are of the view that this is a non-issue designed specifically to downplay the great tennis that was being played today. We had veterans finding a way to win a match, youngsters doing something that has not been done for their country in years and yet, former pros at the highest level can only talk about headphones and disrespecting fans.

Centre Court stood on its feet and gave a standing ovation 2 times this fortnight that I personally witnessed.  They stood and applauded Heather Watson after her losing effort in the third round against Serena Williams and they stood and applauded Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams after their quarter final match today.  They also stood and applauded Coco Vandeweghe when she asked them to rise up and appreciate the tennis.  

I don’t think the fans on Centre Court felt that they were being disrespected.  I think they believed they got their money’s worth and then some.  Frankly, they are probably wondering when does this happen again.