Thursday, March 18, 2010

News and Views 3/18/2010

by Savannah

I'm tired of writing about the state of the WTA so I'll present another point of view.
Bill Dwyre wrote the following after attending a press conference featuring WTA CEO Stacey Allaster.

Here's some of what he had to say about the non participation of they-who-must-not-be-named.

The issue has moved from them not being here. Deal with it folks. They aren't coming back. Their confrontation with the crowd in 2001 and dad Richard Williams' characterization a week or so later that the whole thing was racist is a tattoo on this event.

New owner Larry Ellison said he wants them back, but being the fourth-wealthiest man in the world won't be enough. Learning to change wine into water might do it.

Last year, from the WTA's bonus pool alone, Serena Williams forfeited $400,000 and Venus $150,000 for failure to play the mandatory Indian Wells event. Apparently $550,000 isn't motivation enough.

Dwyre then goes on to talk about the tour and the up and coming players.

The bigger picture here is the future of women's tennis, especially without Venus, 30 in June, and Serena, 29 in September.
Allaster is now in the vision-for-the future seat. Also the smooth-it-over seat. She said Serena's much-watched outburst at the U.S. Open had not hurt women's tennis and she considered it "one evening out of character."

Allaster said that the retaining of tour sponsor Sony Ericsson was key, and it was, even though the cellphone company came forth with less money this time around.

The real growth in the product will be where it has always been, and where it was Monday.

On Court 3, Shahar Peer and Flavia Pennetta banged through a terrific three-set match, Peer winning. Both are good players, both attractive personalities.

Next on the same court was newcomer Yanina Wickmayer, whose out-of-nowhere success is a good story. She beat unheralded Roberta Vinci of Italy, who served and volleyed in her key service game of the second set. Good stuff. Even the men don't try that much anymore, a huge loss to the game.

On center court, in a key-lime-pie dress, Serbian Jelena Jankovic, a compelling character in the process of building a 20,000-square-foot house in San Diego, won a tough three-setter of her own.

Kim Clijsters, who lost a long and wrenching 2 1/2-hour three-setter late Monday to Alisa Kleybanova of Russia, usually brings the sunshine.

Justine Henin is back and brings along her smooth-as-a-vanilla-milkshake backhand. Maria Sharapova keeps breaking down, but keeps trying.

Allaster has her work cut out for her.

Seen and Heard Around

I don't know if everyone noticed but the woman who made the foot fault call against Serena Williams at last years US Open was working a men's match yesterday. The camera zoomed in on Shino Tsurubuchi and lingered for what in television land was a long time.

Caroline Wozniacki can become WTA #2 if she makes the Final at Indian Wells or the semifinals at both Indian Wells and Miami. A commentator referred to Caroline as the new "It" girl the other day. I do hope that WTA CEO Stacey Allaster is serious about growing the WTA brand and that the tour is promoted not just one player.

Caroline will play Aggie Radwanska next in a match that for this observer will be sleep inducing. I don't care for the way either woman plays but this is the future of the WTA so I'll stay awake as long as I can.

Ivan Ljubicic is into the quarterfinals at Indian Wells.

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe Will Reenact Their Wimbledon Final...

But the general public will not be invited.

..the exhibition match is being paid for by Wimbledon's increasingly influential corporate partners HSBC, who will select what will be a relatively small audience.

The event is expected to take place in the fortnight's gap between the French Open and Wimbledon in early to mid June, at a time when McEnroe is in Europe for his commentating duties in Paris and London.
It is believed the match would happen on an outside court and not the Centre with licensing difficulties, plus the preparation of the site for the main Championships, making it difficult to stage the event more publicly. There is also the reality that the disparity in playing standards between Borg, who rarely practises these days, and McEnroe, who still trains regularly at 51, will not mean that it could be a seriously competitive match.


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