Wednesday, April 26, 2017

THE RETURN OF SHARAPOVA

by The Spin Team


I tried my best not to post anything about the return of Maria Sharapova to the WTA Tour. However, as I follow tennis fans and reporters on social media (interchangeable, I know), I cannot help but feel compelled to offer my own thoughts. I wanted to explore the evolution of my feeling through Sharapova’s press conference about her doping violation, ITF hearing, WADA hearing, and subsequent “victory” tour, after having her 2-year ban reduced to 15 months. 

I have surveyed all sides taken on Sharapova by listening to podcasts and reading a range of articles. Unfortunately, I believe she should not receive wildcards into any tournament, nor should she be given any preferential treatment upon her return. 

WILDCARDS

The rules as written by the WTA provide for tournaments to afford wildcards to players.  The fact that Stuttgart chose to give a wildcard to a player returning from a doping suspension is a slap in the face of other players. Some players from the host country deserved a wildcard to aid their ranking and to defer the financial costs of competing.  Sharapova, a multi-millionaire, did not and does not need a wildcard.  The granting of the wildcard demonstrates that Sharapova still requires a leg up in order to compete, much as she did when she used a prohibited substance to gain an advantage over her opponents. 

Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome have all offered wildcards to Sharapova to compete in their tournaments.  As of the time of writing this article, the FFT is set to announce whether they will be providing a wildcard to Sharapova to play the main draw of the French Open and the AELTC to play Wimbledon.

THE “VICTIM” VICTORY TOUR

One of the things that Sharapova has done since WADA reduced her anti-doping ban is go on a “victory” tour where she posited the view that she was a victim of the cruelty of the ITF. She suggested that she was on the receiving end of a witch-hunt because of jealousy from her peers and her wealth. It was a slap in the face to the ITF and the WTA. 

THE WHITEWASHING OF A DOPING BAN

This week, the Tennis Channel took the opportunity to encourage fans to purchase subscription to TC Plus by advertising the ‘Best of Sharapova’.  In addition, they are also showcasing her Grand Slam wins.  There have been numerous articles written by so-called journalists espousing the greatness of Sharapova. The WTA, never to be left behind, has opined that her return to the Tour is good for tennis.

Lest folks forget, this is the same Sharapova who never took a position on anything unless it benefited her brand.  She is the Ivanka Trump of tennis. When Russia was being accused of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, Sharapova remained silent, held her Russian flag high and proudly represented Russia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.  When issues relating to equal pay were being dealt with, she recused herself from the conversation, except when it suited her to take credit.  Who can forget her stance of not participating in WTA promotional events because it conflicted with her practice schedule?  

The WTA has done a disservice to the women who fought long and hard to be seen as equals with their male counterparts.  From the battle to have the Tour recognized, to getting sponsors in the early years, to even going so far as to pay the women who compete on the Tour a salary, the WTA has a long history of being in the forefront of representing women in sport, and indeed, women everywhere.  It was therefore an embarrassment to have someone of the caliber of Billie Jean King embrace Sharapova during her doping ban, as if what she had done was not egregious. 

Even worse, for whatever reason, and surely for publicity purposes only, Sharapova participated in an exhibition event with the current Olympic gold medalist, Monica Puig during the time that she was serving her ban. The Olympics, for better or worse, are about clean athletes competing against each other.  The fact that the whole Russian Federation was banned from competing in the 2016 Olympics made the exhibition match between Puig and Sharapova all the more distasteful. 

Moreover, Sharapova’s agent, Max Eisenbud, the man who was going through a divorce and therefore neglected to read the list of banned items from WADA and hence forgot to inform his client decided to cast aspersions on perennial top 10 players, Caroline Wozniacki and Aga Radwanska by calling them journeymen.  The last time I looked, I didn’t see WTA ask Mr. Eisenbud to apologize to either woman for his comments. 

I am sure that Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome are all agog over the money that they will be making once Sharapova steps on the court.  There is no doubt that there will be fans in the stands to cheer her on.  That is the way of life and the power of money, but just for a moment, I would have hoped that in the same way that Wayne Odesnik, Barbora Strycova, and Martina Hingis were made to earn their way back to the game, Sharapova would have been asked to earn her right to be called a star in the sport of tennis.  

ILIE NASTASE

Ilie Nastase said some things during Fed Cup to Jo Konta.  He also said some things about Serena’s unborn child.  I will not repeat what he said, however, for just a moment I really want to call out the hypocrisy of tennis. 

A few years ago a former player turned pro and a Hall of Famer was accused of rape.  One of his victims filed a lawsuit accusing him of raping her while she was in his charge.  The case meandered through the courts and if it was not for a certain journalist, many of us would not have known about it.

There were calls for his removal from the Hall of Fame and it was only after a petition was circulated and pressure was made to bear on the Tennis Hall of Fame that he was removed.  During this time, many of the players, who are now retired, remained silent.  Once he was removed and the charge against him was proved, those who knew of his behaviour decided to speak out.  What made them wait so long?  Why did no one speak out when these young women were being assaulted?  It is the same question I have of Ilie Nastase. 

Pam Shriver stated that he once asked her if she was a virgin.  Every year during Wimbledon or any of the Majors, there is Ilie Nastase sitting in the Royal Box or the executive suites.  The camera focuses on him and we are told about his legacy and his fiery personality. We are also regaled with stories of his volatile behaviour, which apparently made for great tennis commentary.  It was only after he abused a player publicly and tennis fans spoke out against it that all of a sudden Nastase is a pariah in tennis.  

Why must we wait until we have a victim before we start ostracizing those in the tennis world, legends or not, who consistently abuse their positions? Tennis is a sport that I truly love, but I wish we didn’t adopt the Omerta code (code of silence) when it comes to opening the doors to the deep, dark and nasty secrets that go on behind its closed doors. 



Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE END OF AN ERA

by Karen 

I grew up in Jamaica.  I am Jamaican through and through and I love my country dearly, but there was a point when I was a child when I hated living in Jamaica.  I also feared what my country had become, most of which was due to what I learned from listening to my parents and seeing for myself what I had to go through. 

In the 1970s I lived in West Kingston.  I went to the local primary school and the ruling party at the time was the PNP. Michael Manley who was then the Prime Minister in Jamaica adopted the maxim of Democratic Socialism.  It wasn't quite capitalism and it wasn't full on communism.  His friends during this time were Russia and Cuba and there was a steady stream of both in Jamaica. 

They ostensibly (mostly the Cubans) came to build schools (Jose Marti still stands as well as GC Foster College) and they sent their doctors, teachers and nurses to care for us in our schools and hospitals in Jamaica.  Most of our teachers, doctors and nurses had left Jamaica and the talk at that time was the last person leaving Jamaica, please turn off the lights. 

Most of the moneyed class in Jamaica left, and with them leaving, most of the money in Jamaica.  Companies locked their doors and things as we knew it in Jamaica were drawing to a halt. 

The media did a good job of telling the story from the views of the opposition. There were rumours that those of us who had houses (and my dad had just bought a house in Portmore) would have to share our houses.  Food shortages were now a regular thing and it was not unusual for us to have as our Sunday dinner dumplings and banana rather than the traditional rice and peas.  Rice, flour, sugar, condensed milk and many other basic food items were scarce.  As I got older I understood that it was because of our country's relationship with Cuba and that the USA (instigated by the CIA) were responsible for the food shortages. 

In 1980 when the USA backed JLP came to power, food shortages became a thing of the past and we could finally get American apples once again (not that we ever needed it). 

As I got older and became a bit more enlightened, I started to read more about that time.  I found out that Fidel Castro, along with Michael Manley was instrumental in the tearing down of apartheid in South Africa.  I learned about the freedom fighters in Angola.  I listened to the songs of Bob Marley, especially WAR which spoke about the tribulations of peoples in Africa and I became more conscious. 

I have always been on the fence when it came to Cuba.  On the one hand I believe in free and fair elections and for democratic rule.  I don't like authoritarian figures (hence my dislike of the GOP and Donald Trump).  However, one of the things that Cuba has done under Fidel Castro is to be a voice for the voiceless (controversial I know).  He spearheaded the movement that has now led to a free Southern Africa.  Cuba under Fidel Castro ensured that a young girl like me in Jamaica could have a nutritious lunch every day at school. 

It has been said that most of the people who left Jamaica in the 70s and took their money with them flew to the Cayman Islands and established businesses here.  They helped to set up the offshore industry which has made Cayman profitable.  Meanwhile, Jamaica suffered. 

It is interesting that most of the Cubans who left Cuba when Castro took power are themselves the rich elite who set up businesses in America and made it their life's work to oppose that regime.  I am sure that with the election of Trump and the death of Castro they are probably dancing in the streets. 

Yes, Castro was controversial.  Yes, he was a dictator, but at the end of the day, one cannot deny that in his mind and heart he had his fellow man's interest at heart. 

May he rest in peace. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

WHEN SPORT BECOMES POLITICAL


by Karen

I am not an American.  I don’t live in the US.  I do however have lots of friends and family who live and work in the US.  Some legally.  Some not so much.  All of them have contributed in their own way to the US and what it has become.  They work hard.  They provide for their families, and for those of them who have the ability to vote, they have done so.

To say that I am shocked and appalled at the man that Americans think was fit to lead them has proven to not just me, but to many others, that Americans are their own worst enemy.

Every day I watch the news and during this past election cycle, I could not for the life of me figure out why it was that the news media kept harping on the non event of Hillary Clinton’s emails and not paying attention to what was happening elsewhere. Almost every day, whether she was up or down in the polls, the only thing that I heard about were her emails.  It got to the point that I thought to myself, is the media holding Mrs. Clinton to a higher standard than her opponent? The answer to that seemed to be yes.

When people are looking for an elected leader, I would have thought that they would have wanted someone with some amount of leadership capabilities, but apparently, in America, the criteria is different.  The fact that Americans went to the polls and thought to themselves that someone who has spent her life working for families and young children was not fit and/or qualified to be President said it all.  They instead chose to elect someone who lies, treats women like dirt, does not pay taxes and has no policy to speak of, except to build a wall.

I, like many others who do not reside in the US, could not fathom that Donald Trump, a man who speaks gibberish and who can’t seem to put 2 thoughts together, could actually become President.  During this past year, I have seen and heard the following from Mr. Trump:-

·         Grab them by the pussy
·         Mocking a reporter who is disabled
·         Calls for the banning of an entire religious people (Muslims)
·         Insulting the family who sent their son to die in combat for their country
·         Told a whole host of people from one country that they were rapists and murderers
·         Insulted the current President of the United States by telling him that he was not an American
·         Insulted black people who, because they are athletes, or entertainers, he did not consider them qualified to be surrogates and to have a voice
·         Has on his team a man who has been accused of corruption
·         Has himself been accused of sexual assault
·         Has actually admitted to sexually assaulting woman
·         Has criticized the media and has promised to amend the First Amendment so that newspapers and other media entities can be sued for libel

This is the man who Americans have elected to their highest office.

What gets me when I looked at the exit poll numbers were the large amounts of white women (57%) who decided that a man who will be going on trial for fraud (Trump University), and who previously had a trial fixed for rape, was fit to be President.  At what point in the voting booth did these women decide that it would be a good idea to elect this man to the nation’s highest office?

The media failed the people of America and the world.  Journalists who have been tasked with providing information to people became more interested in ratings.  Rather than realise that they had the Anti-Christ in their midst, they chose to accept the Mark of the Beast and follow along. 

Donald Trump is the President Elect of the United States. 

Barrack Hussein Obama managed to be President for 8 years.  No scandal.  No illicit affairs.  No one threatening to sue him.  Despite having a Congress and Senate that has refused to work with him he passed legislation that provided health care for millions of Americans.  That will soon be a thing of the past.  He provided tax incentives to many people who could not afford it.  That will soon come to an end.  He, working almost by himself, has tried to reform Criminal Justice so that the drugs laws which affect minorities could be lessened.  That too will now be a thing of the past.  I saw recently where the stock price of the largest prison in America has gone up with the election of Trump.  I wonder why that is.  

Already, we are seeing the signs of Trumpism with students being mocked and abused for their heritage.  We have Muslims who are running scared.  There are now protests in the streets of America against this man. 


For the first time in its history, America is on the brink of what could possibly be another civil war.  This time, I can only hope that it will make America continue to be great.  

Finally, as a woman of colour, I could not help but feel the pain of my fellow tennis lovers who are affected by the outcome of this election.  To you, I say keep the faith.  Going forward make sure you go out there and knock on doors.  Offer a ride to folks who don't have transportation to go to the polls.  Insist on making people be aware of what is at stake.  Many is the time we are being told that politics does not belong in polite conversation.  That is wrong.  Politics affect everyone's lives.   I say this because I have a story to share. 

My niece who migrated to the US about 10 years ago, worked as a door knocker for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.  She regularly went out and about signing up people and offering to drive people to the polls.  This was before she could even vote.   This year, she became an American citizen and voted for the first time.  She was horrified that so many of her colleagues, many of whom are women of colour as well as white women did not seem to be aware of the issues.  She was disappointed that so many women felt the need to disparage the failings of Mrs. Clinton and raise up the shortcomings of Mr. Trump. 

As women we have always been the nurturers.  We have always held ourselves to a higher standard.  When Melania Trump said that she had 2 young boys in her house, she was telling no lies.  She was telling all of America that if you vote for my husband, you are voting for a child.  She told us and no one listened.  I think the women who voted for Trump are similar to those women that you see who are in abusive relationships.  We always feel as if we can change the man.  This time, your decision has put a man in power who has no business being there.  I hope you are happy. 

To my LGBTQ friends out in tennis land, my heart and my prayers go out to you.  To my African American and Latino friends, you are not alone and to Muslim friends صلاتي معكم 


صلاتي معكم

Thursday, October 13, 2016

SEXUAL ASSAULT. IT IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS

by Karen 

Like many persons out in the world, I have been paying particular attention to the Presidential campaign currently taking place in the United States of America.  Every 4 years I do so.  I do it not because I have a vote or because I am fond of the policies of either candidate but I have always thought it is a good idea to at least be aware of current events all over the world as they happen. 

Frankly, the way the US conducts its business should be of interest to people all over the world.  The President of the US is usually the person who mandates trade negotiations which impact people like me from the Caribbean who has seen their manufacturing and agricultural sectors die as a result of laws that have been passed by the US Congress protecting American industries from imports.   On a much more serious note, we see guns and ammunition arriving in the Islands of the Caribbean from the US and these guns have contributed significantly to violent crime. 

I currently live and work in the Cayman Islands and the clamp down on offshore jurisdictions has meant the loss of jobs and the moving of companies to other jurisdictions where they are not as frightened of the might of the US Government as we here in the Caribbean seem to be.  

When I started this blog in 2009 it was mostly to talk about women's tennis, and to open up a serious discussion on the way how the women's game was being treated by broadcasters.  Fast forward 7 years later and I would say that things have improved substantially since I first started writing about the women's game.  There is still a lot of work to be done but I suspect that as the women have become more outspoken in press conferences my work in highlighting the sexism that has permeated the sport, my role with my little blog has served its purpose. 

I started this post by talking about the current US Presidential election.  I have just finished watching Michelle Obama's speech where she is campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.  Mrs. Obama opined that the words that she heard from Donald Trump shook her to her core. I don't believe that Mrs. Obama was making that up. Her voice shook and she had the audience spell bound in her sincerity.  I can tell you that this woman from all the way in the Cayman Islands broke down in tears. 

The news media have called into question the tales of the women who have come forward accusing both Bill Clinton (Hillary Clinton's husband) and Donald Trump (the Republican Nominee) of sexual assault.  The question that is being asked by the media is why are these women just now coming forward. Let me stop right here and say this.  If they had come forward 10 years earlier or when it happened, would we not have heard the same questions being asked?  

As someone who has worked with women who have been sexually assaulted, or for that matter raped and degraded, it takes a lot for a woman to come out and say that this happened to me.  As a survivor myself, I can tell you that it is not the easiest thing in the world to do.  You are ashamed.  You feel as if it is your fault.  You blame yourself and frankly, if you grew up in the Caribbean, you get blamed for allowing this to happen to you. 

I have had family members who have been molested.  I have seen young boys and girls who have been molested. I have seen grown women who are married and whose husbands have raped them and beaten them to within an inch of their lives, you put them in shelters and when the time comes to prosecute these men, the wives and girlfriends recant.  

As a survivor who has been down that road, you don't condemn these women for recanting.  You don't condemn them for wasting the Court's time and you certainly don't condemn them because they waited too damned long to talk about it.  

Sexual assault is an intrusion into a woman's private space.  I have seen marriages and relationships end because the woman's partners were unable to deal with their partners being abused.  It is a double blow for the woman as not only has she been violated, but the person who should be standing with her through this crisis is too weak to do so.  For these women who have come out and spoken against both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, it took a lot of courage.  It meant reliving their worst nightmare.  It meant opening up themselves to new lines of attack against their character. 

I wish that this had not become an issue.  If it is that politicians wished to speak about sexual assault, they should really be speaking about it in terms of protecting women with proper legislation.  They should be talking about creating shelters for these women and crisis centers where the women and their children could be safeguarded.  In the same way that politicians in the US speak about fighting terrorists, they should be talking about protecting the most vulnerable in society with the same amount of zeal and effort. 

I don't live in the US but I can't imagine that well thinking people are happy about the way in which this supposedly greatest democracy on earth is conducting itself for the world to see.  It is incredibly disappointing.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

WHO IS CELEBRATING NOW?

by the Spin Team

When Fancy Bears, a group of Russian hackers obtained information from WADA on American athletes, there were many who were of the view that finally someone was going to expose the corruption that is supposedly rampant amongst Olympic participants.  Fancy Bears made sure that they obtained the medical information of prominent American athletes and they leaked this information into the public domain. Athletes like Venus and Serena Williams and Simone Biles had their confidential medical information exposed for the world to see, but as we have seen the only thing that the Fancy Bears hacking exposed is that there is a prescribed protocol for athletes to follow when it comes to taking medication that is otherwise on the list of WADA prohibited substances.

This morning (4 October) the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) made its decision in the case of ITF v. Maria Sharapova.  As most of you may recall the ITF handed down a 2 year ban from the sport to Ms. Sharapova on the basis that she was negligent even though she did not intend to dope (take that for whatever it means).  Today, CAS reduced that 2 year ban to 15 months, which means that Ms. Sharapova can return to competition in April 2017. 

Prior to CAS’ results being made available to the public, we saw Sharapova posting pictures on social media actively training.  One only therefore has to speculate that she already knew CAS’ decision.  There were many tennis commentators who took to social media over the last few days expressing support for Sharapova and hoping that her 2 year ban would be overturned.  They got their wish. 

There was an article being posted on social media that speaks about the so called integrity of tennis.  The writer opined that part of the so called “clean image” that tennis has is its lax testing policy.  I will go further and say that there are those in tennis who prefer that the image of tennis be seen as a clean sport.  The ITF and its subsidiaries (ATP/WTA) make a mockery of the word integrity.  The Tennis Integrity Unit (“TIU”), an underfunded, understaffed entity, tries to fool the rest of the world into thinking that it is doing a stand up job, when it announces the lifetime ban of a player ranked 1,000 from the sport, someone who no one has ever heard of, on the basis that said person is bringing the sport into disrepute.

Upon the announcement of Ms. Sharapova’s reduced ban, her racquet sponsor, HEAD sent a congratulatory tweet.  


How is this even appropriate?  It was bad enough when said racquet sponsor’s chief executive made ridiculous statements about her use of a prohibited substances, a congratulatory tweet is not only damaging to that particular brand, but seems to suggest that a reduction in a ban is something to be celebrated.  How did we get to this place? 

Tennis, and tennis players, tries to portray itself as a role model for young people. There are many former athletes who have become political and they speak about honouring the integrity of the sport by competing fairly and honestly.  For 10 years, Ms. Sharapova took a drug that was not only not prescribed for her, but was taken in such a way as to improve her performance during matches.  The fact that the ITF described her attitude as negligent says it all.  Indeed, if we recall, neither Ms. Sharapova or her team of lawyers provided any evidence to the ITF that the drug she was taking was medically necessary.

As we saw in the Fancy Bears leak, if an athlete has an illness and is prescribed drugs, the next step is to obtain a therapeutic use exemption (“TUE”).  The question that needs to be asked before Ms. Sharapova returns to the WTA Tour is whether she has applied for, and been granted a TUE for a drug that both she and her lawyers have claimed was medically necessary.  If she has not, then we are only left to believe that not only was the taking of the drug during all those years medically unnecessary, but that despite the ITF and CAS’ ruling, Ms. Sharapova was indeed intentionally doping.

I am sure that Ms. Sharapova’s sponsors, her management agency are all quite happy at this outcome. However, tennis fans, especially those who have become sick and tired of so called stars flouting the system and getting away with it, may not welcome Ms. Sharapova’s return with open arms.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

WADA HACK

The Spin Team

Hey Russia, we get it.  You are mad. You are pissed. We get it.  The world realizes that you are losing money as your global superstars are banned from competing for their doping offenses. We get that in supposedly lily-white sports like gymnastics and tennis, two of the biggest stars that the world has ever seen are Simone Biles and Serena Williams. They have taken their sports into stratospheric levels with their athleticism, focus, and strength. In the end, they are just fucking better than your athletes! 

We get it. 
  
A few days ago, a group originating in Russia hacked the WADA website and obtained medical information for Venus and Serena Williams as well as gymnast Simone Biles.  However, instead of shaming these athletes, the hacking revealed that there are rules and it does not take a lot for ethical athletes to follow them.

Earlier this year doping offender Maria Sharapova was among the almost 200 athletes, most of whom were from Russia, that tested positive for the prohibited substance Meldonium. The early reports were that she had a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for using Meldonium.  Sharapova, at that time, stood in front of a microphone with the whole international press corps and told the world that she suffered from a heart condition, had a trait of diabetes and legally took the drug. As we now know, the ITF did not believe her, her uber agent, or her lawyer and gave her a 2-year ban from the sport.  This decision is under appeal from the Court for Arbitration for Sport ("CAS"), which is expected to hand down its decision shortly. 

The Russians were mad. How could they indict Russia's greatest product since plutonium?  Many in the tennis media hoped that Sharapova had a TUE or suggested that she apply for a retroactive TUE.  In order to get a TUE, as can be seen from the Russian hack, one has to not only apply for the TUE, but one has to prove to a panel of independent doctors (remember not your own doctor) that the medicine in question is necessary by providing medical evidence. While Sharapova did not take the time to apply for a TUE, Venus and Serena did just that.  

Much is being made of the list of drugs on their forms.  In fact, all of the drugs noted on the medical forms are anti-inflammatories, i.e. painkillers.  Some of them are drugs, which are used to treat arthritis and muscular pain.  I may be missing something here but as athletes, both Venus and Serena are likely to carry niggling injuries throughout the year.  What do people expected them to take, Advil?

Prior to the Rio games, Serena had been suffering with a sore shoulder, which impacted her greatest weapon, and Venus had been wearing tape for most of the past 5 years.  The TUEs showed that both women used whatever therapy or medication they could in order to play and compete at the highest levels of their profession.   Unfortunately for the hackers, rather than making a case for Serena and Venus competing dirty, they have proven that there is a system in place for athletes who have serious medical conditions (such as the one Sharapova hinted at) to take drugs legally and ethically.

While I’m grateful the hackers have proven that the TUE is a viable option for using potentially banned substances, I’m not about to congratulate them for invading the privacy of two of the most celebrated women in tennis.  For years, neither Venus nor Serena has sat down in press and detailed their many injuries.  They have remained very reticent about discussing any ailments, leaving it up to the gutter press that masks itself as journalists as well as rabid anti tennis fans to speculate.  Recently, though they have taken steps to discuss their injuries with the media.  Venus spoke about her diagnosis 5 years ago with Sjorgen's Syndrome and Serena has talked about her near death experience with a pulmonary embolism. 

However, the hack revealed more than the sisters would like others to know about their medical conditions. The release of that information not only gives a mental edge to their opponents, but also has sown seeds of doubt about Venus and Serena. For tennis fans, most of whom are only fans of Sharapova (a convicted doper) to malign Venus and Serena for actually following the rules of their sport and the anti-doping bodies does not, in my opinion, bode well for the sport of tennis. 

This blog took a very hard line regarding Sharapova's doping offence and will continue to do so against any player (no matter who they are) that cheats while competing.  It goes against the very spirit of sport.  Yet, I do not celebrate the invasion of the privacy of others just to prove the sport is clean. These hackers have shattered whatever confidence any athlete (yes your faves and mine) had in WADA to keep their information confidential. Surely, we can work to maintain a clean sport without breaking ethical and legal codes.

UPDATE

 In the midst of writing this piece I was informed that the medical information of Bethanie Mattek-Sands as well as Petra Kvitova has now been released.  Where does this end?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

WHY VENUS SHOULD ALWAYS BE ON CENTRE COURT

by Karen

Today on Day 4, Venus Williams, a 5 time champion at The Championships, Wimbledon played her second round match on Court 18.  Social media was of course up in arms at this.  The arguments were made that a 5 time champion of this event should be given any of the main show courts until the day she hangs up her racquet.  I agree with this wholeheartedly.  However, on the other hand, there are fans who have travelled from far and wide whose sole purpose is to see Venus Williams play on the lawns on Wimbledon.  For them this was like the best of both worlds.  They were able to see Venus up close and personal, in a match, that for all intents and purposes may not have gone Venus' way.  They showed her battling her young opponent and they saw her use her skills and experience to break through.

While I was watching the Keys/Flipkens match, I overheard in the commentary booth the following discussion after a ball was called out, and there being no Hawk Eye on that particular court, Keys could not challenge.  The discussion went something like this:

Commentator No. 1 - this is why you need to get your ranking up so you can play on the big courts
Commentator No. 2 - yes. but what about Venus who is a 5 time champion here being placed on Court 18
Commentator No. 1 - well you just play and get on with it.

Madison Keys is in the top 10 and a quarter finalist here last year.  Venus is ranked No. 8 and is a 5 time singles champion and has won countless doubles titles also at Wimbledon. She has also won a gold medal in doubles with her sister at the 2012 Olympics.  Not quite sure what else she needed to do to ensure that she played on a main show court.

I asked tennis fans their thoughts on Venus having to play on Court 18 and these were the responses:

From Matt Zemek