I thought I'd start off with a picture of a happy baby.
Little Dylan Williams made his court side debut during his big sister Serena's match. There is nothing more heartwarming than a happy baby.
Meanwhile his sister was caught channeling Steve Urkel while filming a commercial for Wilson.
Azarenka Statement on @SonyOpenTennis withdrawal:
“I am very disappointed that I am unable to compete this year in Miami,” said Azarenka. “This is one of my favorite events and the Miami fans are always supportive. I have been working very hard to rehab my ankle this week but unfortunately it is still not fit to play. I look forward to returning next year.”
Via her Facebook page
No one expected Victoria Azarenka to play Miami. No one who saw her pain filled attempts to play Indian Wells that is. But there was no announcement from the tournament, the WTA or Azarenka's management team until about half an hour before she was scheduled to take the court against promising US player Madison Keys. American Lauren Davis took her place.
Why is this a recurring theme with the WTA? And before you go off talking about Rafael Nadal's late withdrawal from Miami the information was out there if you knew where to look.
And that is the difference between the WTA and the ATP. The ATP does everything it can to promote it's product, the men's tour. The WTA still has no idea how to promote it's tour. It can barely promote it's number one player opting instead to promote players who fit a certain physical profile. And that isn't even consistent.
Caroline Wozniacki is still a darling of the tour. Her matches are still hyped and the excesses of her father are tolerated. The same thing can be said about Maria Sharapova. When all is said and done Pova is still the preferred WTA champion, shrieking and all.
Victoria Azarenka is not a tour favorite. I'm saying this from the outside looking in of course, the viewpoint of a fan who takes her time to actually put her thoughts about tennis on cyber paper. Her personality isn't warm and cuddly. She plays to win. All of her excesses stem from that desire. It doesn't mean I've become a fan it's just accepting who Azarenka is. Maybe her relationship with Stefan Gordy and his still image savvy father will smooth out some of the rough edges. Sometimes image repair works, and sometimes it doesn't. People of my generation still either love or hate Diane Ross.
But back to the WTA. Many fans dislike of Serena stems from her apparent capricious withdrawals from events where she was almost guaranteed to appear, withdrawals that happened at the last minute. There are other factors of course but the first line of defense by Serena haters will be that argument, that she doesn't respect the tour.
Is she the only player this happened to? Not really. A couple of years ago Kim Clijsters was supposed to appear at a tournament and at the last minute it was announced that she wasn't going to play. Whatever her excuse was it was accepted that she had to injured just the way she said she was. Curly top blonde Kimmie wouldn't lie would she? But would the WTA?
A lot of people who didn't see Azarenka play in agony in Indian Wells don't think she's that injured. I don't think she should've played more than one round in the desert but she did before withdrawing. I don't think she was ever going to play Miami. I think the WTA and the tournament knew that. But with the top two draws on the men's side out and the women's tour an iffy draw at best maybe someone decided that her name should stay on the list until the last minute.
The tournament has admitted that ticket sales are down. I don't think Azarenka's withdrawal affects sales all that much but it does hurt the image of the WTA. When your top two players are on the premises and your number three is injured what is the big deal in admitting that your number three is injured and won't play for awhile?
WTA fans hate that every little thing the WTA does or doesn't do is magnified but the WTA tour is it's own worst enemy. Azarenka, not a fan favorite, is now under the same microscope that was once focused only on Serena. Has she created some of her image problems? No doubt. But her tour doesn't help. In fact it has probably made it worse.