PARTING SHOTS FROM THE USO AND RIDING INTO ASIA

Just how great is Serena Williams these days?  She won her 17th Grand Slam title from 53 appearances. To show just how good she has been and still is, Martina Navratilova played 67 Grand Slam singles events and Chris Evert played 56.   They both have 18 singles titles.  Serena is one win away from tying them.  Most people think that it will happen at any of the 4 Grand Slams next year. 

For the second year in a row, Victoria Azarenka has shown that she is worthy to be called a rival of Serena Williams.  I am not minded to call her that having regard to their head to head, but Azarenka makes a very good case as to why she should be called a rival to the woman who now occupies the WTA Penthouse.  She has shown that she has the game and the mentality to stay with Serena come what may.  


Here are Spin’s and Ace’s Parting Shots.  As with most of the Majors, the Spin will focus on the women and in no particular order of their importance. 

  • How great is the WTA product looking these days?  With so many young women coming up from the juniors and so many of them making their names in the Majors this year, I think the WTA is putting itself in a position where it could very well be that they will again draw even bigger ratings than the men.  
  • Caroline Wozniacki.  It was just a few short years ago that she ruled the WTA. I have no idea what has happened but it is remarkably frustrating to see her not even make the second week of a Major. Believe this was her last chance to make a Slam semifinal as she was given a kind draw.
  • Welcome to prime time Camila Giorgi. 
  • What has happened to Julia Georges? 
  • Sabine Lisicki is becoming the next Tsevtana Pironkova and that is not a title that a player with the game of Lisicki should ever aspire to become. 
  • The non-retirement of Marion Bartoli.  Why not just take a break and savour the moment of fulfilling your life’s work?
  • I don’t know if I missed it but it was great to listen to the commentary on a women’s match and not ever hearing anything about the shrieks, grunts, howls etc.  The commentary was about the 2 women on the court giving their hearts and soul in order to capture a Major title.  I am happy. 
  • Venus Williams is a Legend.  She may not have the career of her little sister, but what she brings to women’s tennis cannot be measured in terms of titles or monetary value.  When you become a role model and mentor to young women without having to try very hard, then you know that you have come a long way baby.  
  • Victoria Duval is an amazing young woman, poised, articulate and so focused.  Lots of work needed on her game but taking out the 2011 USO champion, no matter how poorly Samantha Stosur played, says a lot about her mentality.  The fact that she aspires to become something other than a tennis player is remarkable as well. 
  • Sloane Stephens.  She played the first 4 games of her match against Serena like the Sloane that we all know can become the next big thing in tennis. She says that her aim is to finish the year in the top 10.  It seems that Sloane is more about rankings watch than she is about standing on the podium receiving the top prizes. Baby steps are required, but I would have preferred if she spoke about results, rather than the ranking.  If the results are there the ranking will come. 
  • Flavia Pennetta is not my favourite player but how awesome was it to see her playing again and doing so well.  Losing in the semifinals to the second best hard court player this year is nothing to sniff at. 
  • Simona Halep. I think she was very disappointed with her results at the USO.  Perhaps no New Haven and she could make a run for it next year. 
  • Petra Kvitova 😦
  • Andrea Hlavackova – She won the doubles title with her partner and fellow Fed Cup Czech mate Lucie Hradecka defeating Serena and Venus along the way. Also, she won the mixed doubles with Max Mirnyi, who won his first two with Serena and Vika. First player to win both in a Slam since Cara Black in 2008 (doubles with Liezel Huber) 
  • Daniela Hantuchova – She made the quarter-finals which is a good accomplishment after losing in the first round for five straight Slams even though her draw was not difficult.
  • Victoria Azarenka – Despite losing again in the final to Serena, she did well by making the final despite not playing her best tennis.
  • Alison Riske – She received a wild card and made the organizers proud by making the fourth round defeating Petra Kvitova in the process.
  • Until the final, the match of the tournament was between Carla Suarez Navarro and Angelique Kerber where a third set tiebreaker determined the winner and the raw emotion of Suarez Navarro after winning.

The WTA Tour now moves to Asia and already we have seen some surprising results.  Spin had a chance to watch a few matches from Korea as well as China.  I watched the semifinal match between  Zhang and Meusberger.  It was my first time watching Zhang, a WC recipient play and I was very impressed.  I am thinking from the little that I have seen, plus the fact that her opponent, Vania King, a qualifier had to go 3 sets to take out Jheng Jie in her semifinal, will have Zhang winning her first WTA title from as many starts. 

Ace’s preview of the Japan Open is below

Since the United States Open has concluded, the tour has moved on to the continent of Asia. This week the tour lands in Tokyo, which is hosting a Premier 5 event for the last time as it will move to Wuhan in 2014. Serena Williams was scheduled to play but withdrew due to fatigue. Also, Maria Sharapova, Sabine Lisicki, Nadia Petrova, 2012 champion, and Maria Kirilenko has withdrawn due to injury. Top seed is the reigning two-time Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka, who has defeated S Williams twice on hard courts in Doha and Cincinnati. Azarenka will be the favourite to win.

 
First quarter – Azarenka leads this quarter but her first opponent could be Venus Williams. Sloane Stephens will be trying to improve her record in WTA tour events in a push to finish 2013 in the Top 10 while Jelena Jankovic will be continuing her good play.
 
First round matchups to watch: Eugenie Bouchard vs Monica Puig
 
Second quarter – Sara Errani leads this quarter but admitted that the pressure of being a top seed got to her during the US Open. Petra Kvitova has the ability to win this title but she can be very inconsistent and will her love for Radek Stepanek, who won the US Open doubles with Leander Paes, linger on every match she plays.
 
First round matchup to watch: Julia Goerges vs Sorana Cirstea
 
Third quarter – Caroline Wozniacki leads this quarter and has won this title in 2010. She has a tough first round match playing the winner of Daniela Hantuchova/Flavia Pennetta. When the media thinks that Roberta Vinci will falter early in draws, she finds a way to make quarterfinals or semifinals.
 
First round matchup to watch: Daniela Hantuchova vs Flavia Pennetta
 
Fourth quarter – Agnieszka Radwanska leads this quarter. If A Radwanska, who won this title in 2011, is playing in Seoul on Sunday, she will have only one day to travel as her first match will be on Tuesday and the further she advances, she may feel the effects.
 
First round matchup to watch: Aleksandra Wozniak vs Francesca Schiavone 

Ace’s Tokyo Predictions
 
Q1: Azarenka vs Stephens
Q2: Cirstea vs Kvitova
Q3: Vinci vs Pennetta
Q4: Ivanovic vs A Radwanska
 
S1: Azarenka vs Kvitova
S2: Pennetta vs A Radwanska
 
F: Azarenka vs A Radwanska
 
W: Azarenka

SPIN’S AO DAY 5 PICKS

Spin is still celebrating her almost 100% win in yesterday’s picks.  I can’t help but be happy for her.  However, new day, new challenges.  Below are Spin’s Picks for Day 5 of the Australian Open.

PLAYER A
PLAYER B
SPIN’S PICKS
RESULTS
Na Li
Sorana Cirstea
Na Li – too much firepower from Li. Cirstea, if she plays well and cuts down on the UFEs could take a set, but I doubt it
Julia Georges
Jie Zheng
Giant killer Zheng up against one of the most inconsistent players on Tour.  I take Zheng in 3.
Ana Ivanovic
Jelena Jankovic
Battle of the Serbians.  If this is not a pick em I don’t know what is.  Neither player is consistent.  Both ladies have struggled during this tournie.  I am going with Ivanovic, if only because she will have more crowd support
Heather Watson
Agnieszka Radwanska
Radwanska – the 4th seed will have too much tricks in her arsenal to be swayed by Watson, who is coming off a brutal 3 setter
Angelique Kerber
Madison Keys
Kerber – this is where the journey ends for the young American.  While she has served and played well through her opening rounds, Kerber’s get the next ball back will prove to be too much for her to handle.
Ekaterina Makarova
Marion Bartoli
This should be a very fun match to watch, if only to see Bartoli jumping around during Makarova’s serve.  Bartoli in straights
Valeria Savinykh
Kirsten Flipkens
Flipkens – if only because Savinykh has to face reality.  She has played a lot of matches this AO, having qualified into the main draw. The journey ends here.
Venus Williams
Maria Sharapova
While this blog will sentimentally pick Williams to win this one, on form alone, I think Sharapova will win this one.  The Russian is on a no games lost win streak for 2013, but look for Williams to at least win a game each set.

Have fun guys

WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

Every Grand Slam brings out new outfits for players to wear.  From time to time we have some classic pieces that are never worn again and which fans the world over rave about in social media.  One of these was Serena’s dress at the 2012 French Open.  Beautiful green colour and it fit very well.  Unfortunately, fans only got to see it for one round as for the first time, Serena was ousted in the first round of a Major.
However, there are the outfits that defy description.  During the next 2 weeks Overhead Spin will choose one outfit that is based on how many comments it garners on social media and post the outfit with the caption … What were you thinking?
The outfit that garnered the  most comments on Twitter last night was that worn by Olga Puchkova, a Russian who was playing fellow Russian, Sharapova.  Pouchkova, not only had everything go wrong with her game last night, but her outfit was described by many as a cross between sleepwear and as one fashonista tweeted “is this a onesie?”
Here for your viewing pleasure is Puchkova in her definition of tennis gear. While this picture does not make the outfit look too bad, it is when Puchkova is in full flight, or indeed is stationary that the real disaster of the outfit comes into full recognition.
Do you think this outfit was the worst of Day 1?  Sound off

LI, NA, WTA PLAYER OF THE YEAR

I have tried on several occasions to write the second in our series on contenders for the WTA: Player of the Year. You would think with 4 different Slam winners, 3 of them first time winners, that it would be easy to write the narrative for these awesome women of the WTA, and especially the narrative for Li Na, but this has been without a doubt the most difficult post I have ever written.

I think one of the reasons why I am finding it so difficult to write about Li is that I am intrigued and confused about Li. I have always been unimpressed with her style of play. There does not seem to be much imagination to her game, and her attitude on court leaves a lot to be desired. However, her press conferences and the paths that she has taken to winning her first Grand Slam title and being the first player from China to win a Grand Slam title has left me being intrigued and admiring of that aspect of her persona.

However some of her recent utterances have left me shaking my head in disgust as for a woman to basically imply that the women of the WTA are not as mentally tough as the men leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I understand that there is a level of sexism that permeates the narrative about women’s tennis. It is either they are all lesbians; they are on steroids; or as some would say they are so muscular as to not even look feminine, the commentary about the women of the WTA has not always been, to put it politely, very tennis friendly.

However, when a champion such as Li, a champion who has overcome so many personal obstacles in her own life, to now be ranked as one of the biggest stars of the WTA, a signal of hope for a country’s women and a player who will now find herself in the conversation every time she enters a tournament, her recent utterances leave a lot to be desired and really sets back the progress that have been made by Billie Jean and the Gang of Nine in seeking equality and recognition for female professional tennis players.

In reviewing Li’s year, one could be asked how in the name of all that is holy did she manage to win a Grand Slam, beating the likes of Sharapova, the allegedly toughest player on the WTA mentally, or indeed beat defending champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets. Li’s path to the final was filled with intrigue and drama. She played some tough matches but in the final, just as Schiavone did before, she played absolutely flawless tennis. She served well, returned even better, did not get down on herself, and took the opportunities when they were presented to her.
Li has won one other title this year, at Sydney, beating Australian Open champion Clijsters in what was a very good match.

There have been much written about Li’s slump since winning the French Open, but a quick check of her year in review on the WTA’s website shows an observer exactly what you usually get with Li. There is a reason why she has such a small number of titles since joining the Tour. In her first 5 tournaments, apart from reaching the final of Sydney and the final of the Australian Open, Li’s record at regular Tour events have been a series of 1st rounds, 2nd round etc. Her best performance at regular Tour events prior to the French Open were at Rome where she fell in the semifinals to Stosur and her win at Sydney.

By winning a Grand Slam, Li has put herself in the conversation for Player of the Year. She has qualified for the Year End Championships and one can only hope that despite her recent utterances of not being able to find her game, she will embrace the challenge of being a Year End Champion and play like the champion we know she can be.

Give us your thoughts on Li as WTA Player of the Year

Next up: Petra Kvitova

LOSSES, LOSSES AND MORE LOSSES

Where to begin. Manic Mondays or that should Mundane Mondays or Muck-Up Mondays. That is the way I am feeling right now after the events at Wimbledon today. Today, 2 of the biggest stars that women’s tennis have ever witnessed were sent packing from the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. It is ironic that they were sent packing by 2 players who have between them 4 WTA titles and 1 appearance in a Grand Slam.

Pironkova, she of the forehand slice, deceptively accurate serve and lethal backhand showed that her win against Venus Williams in the quarter finals of the Championships in 2010 was not a fluke. Having gone 6-15 for this season, Pironkova turned up at the Championships, apparently to defend the points (which according to her she had no idea that points were awarded for going far in tournaments) turned up a deadly performance in ousting the 5 time Wimbledon titlist and WTA Tour veteran, 6-2, 6-3 in what can only be called a command performance.

Earlier that day, Venus’ little Sister, defending champion and 13 time Grand Slammer, Serena Williams was also ousted from the Championships by Marion Bartoli. Fans of women’s tennis will remember that Bartoli was the player who sent Justine Henin packing in the semifinal of Wimbledon in 2007. Today, she backed up the potential she showed by staying strong and serving lights out to take out the defending champion. Serena however showed why she is indeed the toughest woman in tennis as it took Bartoli 5 match points before she could finally put away Serena Williams.

Fans of Caroline Wozniacki will have to wait until the US Open for the World’s No. 1 to win a Major as she was ousted today in three tough sets by Cibulkova. Cibulkova hit winners from every side of the court but especially from her forehand side. She made the world’s No. 1 look pedestrian in her victory today. Cibulkova has now taken out 2 of the biggest contenders for this title and she will now face the woman that many have picked to win these Championships, Maria Sharapova.

The others left in the tournament are Petra Kvitova, Tamera Paszek, Victoria Azarenka, Wild Card Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli. It will be a very interesting quarter final from the ladies and we may very well have a very new Grand Slam champion on the women’s tour.

Today’s round of 16 losses by both Williams Sisters marks the first time that either woman has lost in this round at Wimbledon. The loss does not seem to have affected Serena in the same way that it seems to have affected Venus. In her post match presser Serena seemed almost defiant in her loss as she said that she can only get better and actually threw down a challenge that the rest of the women’s tour should watch out. Venus on the other hand, while sounding stoic in her loss, seemed quite bemused that she could not find a way to get past Pironkova today.

She indicated in her presser that she does not know why she cannot seem to play her best against Pironkova. As I sit here and write this, I am watching the match on mute and I can tell Venus the reason why she does not play her best against Pironkova. Pironkova believes. She has no doubt in her mind that she can beat Venus. Venus, on the other hand knows that Pironkova can beat her and as a result she is not able to play without fear.

I remember years ago when Venus first came on Tour every woman on Tour did not like to play against her. She was as tough as they came. She had to fight tooth and nail for all that she has attained. From media critics about her game, to the anti-Williams sentiment that permeated the Tour at that time. Every player even her fellow Americans did not know what to make of her and her sister, and indeed the rest of the Williams Family. I strongly believe that as a result of having to stay strong during those tough moments early in their careers, Venus and to a lesser extent Serena, became extremely tough and competitive opponents.

Today, after achieving so much, maybe the desire to prove themselves is no longer relevant. Maybe, the fact that they are now acknowledged as being great players in their own right and maybe as a result of their accomplishments both on and off the court, the fire to compete is no longer there. I don’t know but the Venus from even 2005, the Venus who stared down match points on so many occassions, the Venus who would look across the net at her opponent and tuck her weave behind her ears and adjust her Diane von Furstenburg dress was nowhere in sight today.

Today, I saw a woman who gave up and that is not my Venus.

I am hoping that with more match play, less injuries and that bravado that she has where she has ruled SW19 for so many years will return. I know that many of her fans would like to see that again.

On another more humours note, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, winner of zero WTA singles titles, black eye-liner, and who spends more time on her bizarre outfits and who never even made it past the first round is now the top female American player. Even more humourous, Melanie Oudin, she of the “I cannot win a first round match to save my life” is now ranked ahead of Serena Williams.

Take a drink folks, the ride is only going to get better.

WIMBLEDON, SCHEDULING AND OTHER STUFF

Wimbledon. Grass court tennis. The Williams Sisters. The lawns. Rain delays. The roof. All of these signify the return of my favourite time of the year. I love grass court tennis and I love Wimbledon. However, there are days when I do hate Wimbledon. I do hate their out-dated scheduling polices and I do hate that the All England Club continues to pander to the least common denominator in joining those who continue to condemn the women game. I also condemn the professional women of tennis who continue to suck up the type of behaviour that is constantly being meted out to the women’s tour.

Since the commencement of the tournament the standard policy of scheduling one women’s match on Centre Court, along with 2 men’s matches continues. However, the schedule for tomorrow, Thursday 23 June is what has me really upset. Serena Williams, she of the 13 Grand Slam titles, the 2 time defending champion has been shifted to Court No. 2. I don’t care what anyone says. Court No. 2 has been given the name the “Graveyard of Champions” for so long that most fans of tennis will tell you that they hate to see their favourites scheduled for that particular court. The AEC has informed us that the old Graveyard Court has been demolished and this is a new and shinier version of the Graveyard Court. In that case, why not schedule the men’s matches for that particular court?

In what universe is Robin Soderling, a 2 time loser at Grand Slam finals, where he never even won a set, and Lleyton Hewitt, albeit a former champion at Wimbledon (so long ago that most fans don’t even remember) command Centre Court on Thursday’s schedule and Serena Williams gets to go on an outside court. Even worse, how is it that Sharapova, she who has not been to the final of a Grand Slam for going on 3 years, and who has not won at Wimbledon since 2004 gets to play on the Court No. 1 and Serena gets Court No.?

I can understand Na Li playing on Centre Court. After all she is a newly minted Grand Slam champion and one of those who the experts have picked to make it far, or even win this tournament, but again, I ask, why is the 2 time defending champion and the woman who has made the finals 3 years running, playing on Court NO. 2 and not on a main show court?

Interview Transcripts

I am happy that the AEC has saw it fit to prove interview transcripts on their website and not follow the lead of the French Federation in bowing to the journalists’ association in putting a 24 hour hold on these transcripts. I have been reading through the transcripts and I have always asked myself the question, what if you were a journalist and had the opportunity to interview some of today’s big name players, what questions would you ask. I have made up a list of questions and I am hopeful that some enterprising blogger or journalist who reads this little blog could perhaps ask one of our top ladies any of the following questions:-

As a top player, do you believe that the WTA Tour is doing all that it can in promoting women’s tennis?

Do you believe that in this age of equality that the AEC should dispense with its credo of placing 2 men’s matches on the main show courts and relegating the women, despite their records and pedigrees, to the outside courts?

Do you think that the constant criticism of the women’s tour in relation to the issue of grunting is an issue that could become detrimental to the women’s tour, and if so, what do you think the Tour and players could or should do to address this issue?

Do you think that the Players Council should address this issue publicly? If not, why not?

With not so many teenagers coming up through the ranks, do you think the WTA should lower the eligibility requirements, and if so, to what age?

Do you think in order to promote the women’s game more it would be better if the WTA started its own commercial television station and start partnering with the various tour stops in an effort to fully promote the sport?

If you were given the job of CEO of the Tour, what if any changes would you implement in order to benefit the women’s game?

Do you believe that on court coaching has had a negative or positive impact on the younger players? If so, why and if not, why?

DOUBLE STANDARDS IN TENNIS



Remember when Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic posed in their skimpy swimsuits?

Recently, Serena Williams did this (via onthegotennis.com)
http://tinyurl.com/6yc5qxk

When I checked my Blackberry today and saw my timeline blow up about Serena, I was wondering what was the problem. Lo and behold I finally got a chance to see what was causing all the journalists to come out in high dudgeon against Ms. Williams. Lo and behold, it was because she chose to change her twitter Avatar with the picture cited above.

I have to say that I am a bit stunned at the reaction of tennis journos, and especially that paragon of tennis journalism, Greg Couch. Mr. Couch states that “Still, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic photos are never quite as gritty as Serena’s”. Hum, maybe they are not as gritty as Serena, simply because despite what advertisers and others would have us think you are either born with it, or you have it bestowed upon you. In Ms. Williams’ case, put her in sack cloth and ashes and she would still make Sharapova, Ivanovic and Kournikova look ordinary.

However, that is not the reason for this post. This post is about the hypocrisy that pervades throughout tennis journalism, and no where is it more evident but in the way how women’s tennis is covered and the way in which the women’s game is portrayed by journalists.

Separate and apart from the righteous indignation of Couch who would have us think that he is only defending Serena’s honour in thinking that for someone who has been the victim of a stalker (and he had the gall to cite Erin Andrews, but more anon), but how dare she post a picture that conjures up so much meaning and putting it out there for another stalker, or the same one, to think that he was invited to do it once again. How dare Serena Williams actually try and be a woman. A person. An individual. How dare she?

If I was 10% convinced that Mr. Couch’s heart was in the right place, I would ask him to get into high dudgeon at the way the media has chosen to deal with women’s tennis since this 2011 tennis season has commenced:-

1. There have been 4 Premier Mandatory tournaments played since the tennis season began. Of these 4 Premier Mandatory tournaments, the women’s portion of those events have only been airing since the quarter-finals. Tennis Channel, ESPN and the other networks that broadcast tennis do not believe that women’s tennis is worthy of being watched by millions of viewers and so the women are hardly shown and when they are shown, we are given highlights or interrupted play. I do not recall Couch and many other journalists bemoaning that fact.
2. When Todd Woodbridge chose to comment to Rennae Stubbs via text message that the possible reason for Kim Clijsters looking so grumpy and her breasts looking full must mean that she is once again pregnant. Correct me if I am wrong folks, but I do not recall anyone defending the invasion of Clijsters’ privacy with such a disgusting remark. I think most women would agree with me that if you had to get up and look at Mr. Couch’s face every day, and indeed listen to some of the male commentators on tv, you would perhaps be grumpy as well.
3. How about the constant belittling of professional women by referring to them as girls? If there is anything more demeaning to listen to is having grown ass men referring to women who could buy them 10 times over as girls. I will keel over and die the next time I hear commentators refer to the likes of Federer and Nadal as boys.
The cries of indignation by people like Couch infers and/or implies that because Serena was the victim of a stalker she should not have posted such a suggestive picture of herself. I guess that means that women who get raped while on dates should never ever go out on another date. Or how about women who get attacked viciously while going about their normal business? According to Mr. Couch, they must be asking for it, or indeed, they should change their lifestyle to minimize the chance of them being attacked. Are you serious Mr. Couch? He seems to think that Serena posting a picture of herself is an invitation to the lunatics, like the one who stalked her, and therefore, Serena, a free adult should be bound by fear, according to Mr. Couch, and not post pictures of herself, no matter that this is a free society, because the likes of the stalker who was recently hauled before the Florida Courts could be tempted to do this again.

As someone who has been a victim of personal crime, I find it insensitive and downright obnoxious that someone like Mr. Couch could ever deem to hold himself out as a moral authority as to women’s rights. Mr. Couch has used his position as a journalist to besmirch and downright call down fire and brimstone on the head of the Williams family, and Serena Williams in particular. Mr. Couch has absolutely no moral authority, imagined or otherwise, to even call Serena Williams to account.

It would have been good if Mr. Couch was sincere in his chastising of Ms. Williams, but his previous rants against Ms. Williams and indeed her whole family, the most recent of which was his abominable rants that Ms. Williams, knowing that she could not play an exhibition event for Nike, implied, inferred and colluded with Nike to have her name on a billboard promoting said Nike event. The fact that Ms. Williams was then diagnosed as suffering a pulmonary embolism, had to be rushed to the hospital for a subsequent hematoma, as a result of a cut on her foot, which to this day, Mr. Couch, and others of his like thinks is a figment of Ms. Williams’ imagination, notwithstanding his stance and others like him that Ms. Williams was not in fact injured, but was saving herself for the majors. I am yet to hear any apology from any of those members of the media who called into question, Serena’s continued absence from the Tour.

Therefore, it strikes me as a bit rich, that Mr. Couch of all people should be coming out and purportedly chastising Ms. Williams for putting herself in danger, seeing as she had been the victim of a stalker. You cannot have it both ways. It is either Ms. Williams is a lying, cheating hypocritical heifer who makes up injuries in order that tournaments can sell tickets, or she is injured, or she is the victim of a stalker, or is it that Ms. Williams, like most women, needs a man to look after their interest, because she is incapable of doing so herself.

Mr. Couch is of the view that Serena’s personality and character are big for women’s tennis. He believes that people like Schiavone (a very talented player and a Grand Slam champion) do not draw crowds to tennis matches or fans are not drawn to her. Clearly, he did not watch today’s match with Schiavone and Hantuchova, when Schiavone showed us just why she is a Grand Slam champion. She had the crowd in Centre Court in her home country on their feet with her performance today. Perhaps Mr. Couch should have been watching that match, rather than trolling the internet looking at Serena’s twitter picture (or maybe he did not get to see it seeing as it was not on Tennis Channel).

Mr. Couch and his cohorts in the media, and those who continue to use their positions to deride the women’s game need to be called to account. For too long they have used their positions to belittle the women’s game.

The constant criticism of the grunting in women’s tennis, never mind that the current No. 1 player in the world, grunts like he is climbing Mount Everest and having a hard time of it. The current No.2, Novak Djokovic (grunts), Verdasco (grunts), Federer (grunts), almost every single Spanish player (grunts), some of them so loud that you cannot even hear the commentary in the booth at times. The only comment is this “what an effort from [insert name here]. When the women do it, they are not exerting effort. Oh no. They are just doing it because they are cheating. It annoys me that former players such as Carillo and Navratilova have joined the bandwagon in criticizing the women’s game in relation to this but I guess if you want to be considered one of the boys, what better way than to join up against the women.

Of course the women grunt, but they also play tennis. How about commenting on the tennis and leave the grunting out of it. Is it distracting to fans? Sometimes, it is. Is it turning fans away? Only because the media continues to put emphasis on the issue. During every single broadcast of a tennis match featuring Azarenka, Sharapova or Venus, the first thing that you hear is the hue and cry about grunting.

I, like many fans of women’s tennis are waiting for the day when Serena Williams returns to the tennis court. As it is she is not playing the French Open. Rather than the media speculating about a picture that Serena Williams posted, how about letting fans know who the early round contenders are? How about doing some homework before the start of play so that fans can be properly advised about the current crop of players.

I will not be holding my breath for that to happen.