It is that time of the year when the injury roll gets called in women's tennis. Already we have seen numerous withdrawals and the list of those players who have called it a season is a virtual list of who's who in women's tennis.
Since Wimbledon, we have multi-slam champions like Justine Henin and Serena Williams nary hitting a ball in competition. Justine due to hurting her elbow in her match against Clijsters and Serena after cutting her foot on glass in a restaurant, which required her to have surgery.
Since the USO Clijsters has not played a tournament, tweeting a picture of her foot showing that she had had work done to remove a mole. Safina, Kuznetsova, Sharapova and Venus Williams have all called it a season for various reasons. Safina due to her back, Kuznetsova cited an undisclosed illness, Sharapova to rehab her shoulder and Venus because of her knee.
Serena was slated to play Linz but has had to withdraw as a scan of her foot determined that her injured foot had not fully healed.
The news of so many withdrawals of marquee players at this time of the year has been met with some amount of commisserations for some and raised eyebrows for one withdrawal. The only player whose absence drew howls of protest or was met with sceptcism was that of Serena.
Now a case could be made that people love to see Serena play or it could be that she is the face of women's tennis, contrary to what others have been saying for years. However, this post is about the injury situation that seems to befall the women's tour at this time of the year.
For most of this year Serena has been on the benched list more than she has been on court. She has only played 6 tournaments this year and even those tournaments that she played she came in with some form of bandage on various parts of her body.
The tennis season is long and gruelling and it is up to the players to maintain a schedule that is compatible with what they can physically manage. However, there is also this issue of the Roadmap which compels players to play premier tournaments in order to either maintain a ranking or indeed to partake in a year end bonus. At the end of the day a player needs to determine whether it is worth it to play tournaments while injured in order to get a bonus at the end of the year which may just end of up playing doctor's bills in any event.
I have no idea what the solution is to the chronic injury situation that now besets the Tour. Many of the players who are now on injured list and who have shut down for the season are players who have played a pretty limited schedule this year or who have been knocked out of tournaments at the early stage. Players like Safina need to think long and hard as to whether it is the right thing for her to be playing tournaments with her back being the way it is. Perhaps a sabbatical to allow her injury to heal may be the best thing for her to do.
One issue that keeps coming up amongst fans is the issue of the equipment that is being used by most of the players.
I will be doing some research on this during the off season and scouring the internet to see whether I can find any relevant articles to support a theory that I have had and which has been posited by John McEnroe regarding the string and racquets now being used on the pro tour.
Until then I can only hope that the players who are now on the injured list take the necessary time to heal the various aches and pains in their bodies and come back stronger in 2011.