Dominance is defined as “power and influence over others”. In terms of tennis, no one moves the needle quite like the sibling act of Venus and Serena Williams.
The numbers told the tale. Ticket prices for court side seats were going at almost US$5,000.00. Just consider that for a moment. US$5,000.00 for the opportunity to watch Venus and Serena Williams battle on Arthur Ashe stadium in a quarter final match to see who would play Roberta Vinci of Italy. This was not even the final folks. It was a quarter final match.
Separate and apart from the cost of paying so much to see this sister act, for the first time in a long time that I can recall, it seems as if ESPN sold advertising during the changeovers. At no point during the match was I able to see what Venus and Serena were doing during the change of ends because all I got were commercials. As they say in the marketing world, ESPN made bank.
Which is why the Forbes tweet during the Venus and Serena show got the outrage that it deserved from tennis fans on social media. Sending a tweet about Sharapova indicating that she is the highest earning female athlete in the world. As I wrote in my previous article on this topic, this is an issue of branding and tennis fans are more concerned right now with watching a living legend of the sport. They are watching someone who has continued to break down barriers to sport, who has cross over appeal in terms of tennis and who, without even trying, got Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian West all in the same room to cheer her on. That to me is worth more than any amount of magazine covers selling stuff that no one wants to buy.
Today’s second set of quarterfinals feature the 4 ladies remaining in the bottom half of the draw. Victoria Azarenka, 2 time finalist at this event going up against Simona Halep, first time quarter-finalist and Petra Kvitova, 2 time Wimbledon winner going up against Flavia Pennetta.
The head to heads should be thrown out the window for these matches. Simona Halep has had to battle tooth and nail and Sabine Lisicki to get to this stage of the tournament. Victoria Azarenka has not had to fight too much as she has done what needed to be done to get to this stage of the tournament. Petra Kvitova, for the first time in her career has a chance to get to a Major final that is not on grass. That she is doing it in the heat and humidity of New York, despite suffering from mono and asthma, is a testament to her fitness, or lack of practice sessions or some such. Her opponent, Flavia Pennetta is no stranger to this round of a Major in New York. All 4 ladies have a lot on the line. The chance to be in a Major semi-final with a chance to go to the big show on Saturday. Who will prevail? Whose nerves will hold out in the end.
Spin’s Picks – Halep over Azarenka and Pennetta over Kvitova