For whatever reason it has been a very confusing time for tennis fans. On the one hand they cry out for players with personalities. They have become bored by the niceties amongst players. They describe friendships amongst players as fake. There was even one player who basically said that the friendships being described on Tour are fake and that all WTA players hate each other.
Many current WTA players dismissed these suggestions and one can only speculate that the doubles partnership of Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez-Navarro broke up as a result of Muguruza’s comments about the lack of friendships on Tour.
Whenever tennis players show their personalities it is usually met with outright anger by some tennis fans. It gives tennis journalists something to write about. After all, surely everyone gets tired of writing the same stories each and every day. Tennis players who show their personalities usually get the sport into the mainstream consciousness. Consider the case of Nicholas Kyrgios. We all remember the dust up between Kyrgios and Wawrinka where Kyrgios informed Wawrinka that his girlfriend had slept with a fellow ATP player. Apart from the fact that Kyrgios apparently broke the bro code, many in tennis media took the opportunity to out the girlfriend of Wawrinka (on the pretext of defending her, but we all knew what was up) and so tennis got its bad boy.
Said bad boy struck again this morning with a number of tweets in which he castigated a tennis journalist as a result, I suspect of an article that said journalist wrote about Lleyton Hewitt. I carry no brief for anyone in this kerfluffle. What I do find interesting is that someone felt it was necessary in defending said journalist (someone who is quite capable of defending himself) by tweeting directly to Kyrgios and informing him that said journalist had slept with Kyrgios’ girlfriend. I suspect that this was supposed to be an insult, but it gets me back to the whole situation of people defending alleged victims of slut shaming. Kyrgios’ girlfriend is a WTA Tour player. It was said far and wide that Kyrgios used Wawrinka’s girlfriend as a tool to insult Wawrinka. I am now wondering what this tennis fan’s intent was when she told Nick that the journalist was screwing/is screwing/had screwed his girlfriend?
In terms of personality, I have only seen Jelena Ostapenko’s name on a draw sheet. An ITF stalwart, Ostapenko has not had many wins on the WTA Tour. In February she made it to the final of the Qatar Open where she lost to Suarez-Navarro. Before that I had heard of her because of her dust up with Naomi Broady. Fellow WTA players also took to Twitter to condemn Ostapenko for unsportsmanlike behaviour. I have to say that during the week in Qatar I never saw one instance of Ostapenko’s alleged unsportsmanlike conduct. She was competitive, fiery, disgusted with her play and she let us know. Frankly, I have become a fan of hers since watching her play as she has the type of game style that I really like. I hope to see more of her and her personality.
There are many players who do things on court that annoy me: I never liked the Petko dance. For one it lacked rhythm and I just did not like the idea of players dancing after winning matches. I also hated the dab that Azarenka has adopted from the NFL. She looks ridiculous doing it. I have become sick and tired of Radwanska’s trick shots and I am sure there are many people out there who have become annoyed with the various issues that surround Petra Kvitova.
The fact that these things irk me, I am sure irk many other tennis fans, however, we need to try and figure out what it is that we want from our tennis players. Are we looking to find friends who we can invite over for drinks or are we just seeking to be entertained because we love this sport. If there is a player who annoys me I try to avoid watching their matches (Niculescu). If there is a player who I enjoy watching I will go all out to watch, warts and all.
Tennis fans need to realise that tennis players are people too. Stop trying to have cookie cutter players. It is boring. Appreciate the tennis. If the tennis bores you, switch to another match or just turn off the tv. Stop making the sport of tennis personal. It is not. These players don’t know you and frankly I doubt if they care what we think about them (except for possibly Djokovic).
Appreciate the tennis. Everything else usually sorts itself out.