Thursday, March 31, 2011
Women’s tennis is at its transition phase. There is no doubt about it.
In every era, fans of women’s tennis have to get used to the idea that players that we have grown accustomed to seeing performing at their best will eventually leave the Tour to make way for a new breed. This is how it goes in all aspects of our lives, whether we want to believe it or not.
Journalists, fans and other media practitioners have taken the WTA Tour, and its veterans to task for their inability to keep the Tour alive. I disagree with this notion. I think the WTA Tour as it stands is at its transition phase. We have seen it before in the 70s, 80s, 90s and now in the 2000s. At some point in time these professional women have to start listening to their bodies and in some cases their significant others and decide that it is time. Time to put down the racquets. Time to stop travelling the world. Time to stop practicing. Time to stop going to the gym every day. Just TIME.
For fans of the new breed of veterans. The Venus, Serenas, Kims, Justines, etc of the Tour, it is heart rending to say the least to watch such quality players take the court less and less. Someone said to me today after Clijsters’ loss that it seems as if with Justine, Serena and Venus not around, she does not seem motivated to compete. That could very well be true. There is no doubt that these 4 women pushed each other to great heights. They forced each other to raise the level of their games when they met.
I recall that between 2003-2005 when neither Williams Sister was playing on a regular level, the era was known as the Battle of the Belgians. Kim and Justine would meet as often as Venus and Serena. During this time we also hold Amelie and quite a few other veterans, including Sharapova. Today, we have these former Grand Slam champions struggling through injury and motivation to try and find their way back to the top of the game.
The media and fans would like them to continue.
In listening to the commentary during the last 2 weeks of the Winter hardcourt swing of Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, the consensus seems to be from every commentator that having Maria Sharapova in the mix is good for the game. I would go further. I think having the veterans competing against the new breed is good for the game.
This sport is not about one player. It is about a professional Tour. A Tour that encompasses women from all walks of life. There are women out there who are competing because it is their job. There are others who are doing it for the legacy that it will bring them. Hall of Fame accolades and the like. To have the media think that this sport. This wonderful sport built by generations of strong women who dedicated their whole lives so that women of today could benefit, is all about one player are delusional.
These days I like to see competition amongst the women. I too will regret the day when I can no longer see Venus striding across the lawns of Wimbledon, holding herself as regal on the grass as no one else in women’s tennis can. I long to see Serena Williams’ serve and that forehand and her hitting that backhand off the back foot and seeing that fierce look of calm determination as she stands across the net to return serve. I enjoy seeing the look of determination on Sharapova’s face as she battles her opponents and these days herself. I like the contemplative look on Clijsters’ face as she ponders her next move. I like the eagerness of Azarenka, and the happiness that she now seems to enjoy both on and off the court. I like to watch the wheels of Radwanksa’s head turning as she slices, and dices the ball to give her opponent’s fits, and finally, I like the look of the current World’s No.1, Caroline Wozniacki, a player who does not get as much credit as she deserves in this wonderful sport.
In short, I love what the WTA has to offer, both from the veterans and the new breed.
The game is in transition and I for one while dreading what lies ahead am surely looking forward to what the WTA will do next.