Wednesday, January 8, 2014

And I Thought The Silly Season Was Over

by Savannah

Usually the silly season ends when the road to Melbourne begins. It seems that this year the fans are focused on the tennis but the players, and their agents, are still settling scores, some of which were created by them and their agents.

Take this gem from Max Eisenbud, Maria Sharapova's agent, about Serena Williams from an article by Melissa Isaacson of ESPN. The discussion up to this point in the piece had been about Pova's record versus Serena, her shoulder, and why Pova needs to win in order to shore up her legacy "But Sharapova, 26, might want to begin obsessing before she becomes known as one of the greatest players in the game who captured four Grand Slam titles, but was just another in the pack who couldn't beat Williams in her prime."

Isaacson then goes on to quote Eisenbud.

She's also not a fan of Williams, and vice versa, which we learned officially in 2013 when the two engaged in a media sniping match, with Williams first insulting Sharapova in a Rolling Stone article by referring to her as boring and saying Sharapova's boyfriend (and Serena's rumored ex), Grigor Dimitrov, had a "black heart," and then Sharapova one-upping her at Wimbledon.

"If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship, and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids," Sharapova said, referring to Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, and to a reported relationship not confirmed by Williams.

Eisenbud said neither he nor his client regretted that she said it.

"People know Maria as being a very classy girl, so that caught a lot of people off guard …" he said, "[but] you know how many players and other people came up to her after and told her they loved what she said? A lot.

"She's very real, and there aren't many very real female tennis players and that's what really separates her. … People know what's real and not real. Yes, she's beautiful and plays great, but her realness is why she is such a great partner to her sponsors. There's nobody else like that on tour."

Just the same, he did add, "You're not going to see her getting involved in that much [this year]."

Try and control your gag reflex. Martina Navratilova joined the scrum.

"What she said about Serena, I'm sure she wishes she hadn't said it, but she's one of the most honest players out there," Navratilova said of Sharapova. "She gives you more than anybody, which is such a contrast to Serena, who doesn't give you anything.

"With Maria, I can almost see her thinking through things as she says it. She doesn't have a canned response and I like that from her. But you still have to have a filter, especially in this day and age. If you always say what you really think, you can get yourself in serious trouble."


"[Sharapova] is such a force now that whatever she says, it's magnified, amplified, exaggerated, then they use it to try to bait other players," Navratilova said. "They used to do it with Chris and I until we got together and put an end to it." photo 34845a61-7fec-4b05-84c5-47d04347acd0_zps4ae4d954.jpg

I'm wondering who was among the "lots" of players who came over to Pova and said they agreed with what she said. It's said that Sharapova rarely speaks to anyone of her peers on tour so it's hard for me to believe that these players would sidle up to her and whisper that they liked what she said. If I remember this correctly it was Maria Sharapova who started this by commenting on Serena's alleged relationship with Patrick Mouratoglou, something neither has ever said is more than professional but I'm not surprised at the tone of this article. Anytime a "reporter" starts in with Pova's shoulder you know they're "writing" a press release by Eisenbud.

Meanwhile fans are doing the kind of work real journalists should be doing during the run up to the Australian Open. Someone calling themselves "Federer Fan" on the much maligned fan site "Mens Tennis Forums" posted the following re Andy Murray's opponents during the last three years in Grand Slam Quarterfinals. Notice he has never faced men seeded 5-8:

Australian Open 2011 : Söderling loses in the 4th round. Murray faces Dolgopolov.
Roland-Garros 2011 : Melzer loses in the 2nd round. Murray faces Chela.
Wimbledon 2011 : Roddick loses in the 3rd round. Murray faces Lopez.
US Open 2011 : Söderling withdraws just before the 1st round. Murray faces Isner.

Australian Open 2012 : Tsonga loses in the 4th round. Murray faces Nishikori.
Roland-Garros 2012 : Too lucky this David...
Wimbledon 2012 : Too lucky again this David...
US Open 2012 : Tsonga loses in the 2nd round. Murray faces Cilic.

Australian Open 2013 : del Potro loses in the 3rd round. Murray faces Chardy.
Roland-Garros 2013 : Murray withdraws.
Wimbledon 2013 : Tsonga loses in the 2nd round due to a knee injury. Murray faces Verdasco.
US Open 2013 : Berdych loses in the 4th round. Murray faces Wawrinka.

A British tennis "journalist" would never write such a thing. Neither would a United States based journalist. So it's left to fans to instigate a discussion on what I call "hiding" players in the middle of draws. Much the same thing is done with Maria Sharapova.

The Main Draws for the Australian Open will be done Thursday for those of us in the Western hemisphere. Let's see how the special snowflakes are treated. It should be fun.

And do not get me started about Roger Federer night. Just don't.


Professor Livermon's Blog said...

Savannah, thanks for your thoughts on this issue. What I don't understand, as someone who worked briefly in PR is what does Sharapova's PR team hope to gain by continuing to discuss this issue? I mean, I get the old adage that any publicity is good publicity but my sense is that fans of the sport (both casual and die-hard) are finding these constant missives from Sharapova's team to be a bit of a bore and that this is beginning to have a negative impact on Sharapova's image. Yes, the catfight element (with all of its problematic gendered implications) was interesting tabloid fodder and perhaps stoked some interest among fans and casual observers of the sport. But the relentless constant remarks about Serena in every Sharapova profile and press release is to me bizarre. And while I know Navritalova to have never really been much of a fan of Serena's, why exactly would she give such a quote and enter this fray? Is it only to make herself seem more relevant? What exactly is going on here? And why are tennis journalists pretending that Sharapova is Serena's main rival when it is clear that the top player who has played her most competitively over the last year is Vika? I am just wondering what your thoughts are as to why Sharapova and her PR people just won't let this go?

Professor Livermon's Blog said...

Hi Savannah,

I am not sure if my first set of comments disappeared, but I have two quick questions that I find fascinating about all of this Sharapova-Serena business

1) What do her PR people hope to accomplish by continuing to bring up this issue? It certainly does not make Sharapova come off in the best light and I don't think anyone is buying what they are selling

2) Why would Navritalova enter this fray? Is she represented by the same agent? I am just trying to figure out what's going on. Is she (Navritalova) simply trying to make herself seem more relevant?

I would love your thoughts on why this "silliness" seems to still be continuing.

Karen said...

Martina is drinking from the haterade. She hates the fact that Serena is about to catch and surpass her. I am currently researching an article on this point and will post it sometime this week. Martina, put down the haterade baby, the girl from Compton is about to rain on your parade

Savannah said...

Welcome Professor. I'm glad that with your background you, like me, are confused about the relentless harping on a situation that Pova herself helped bring about.

I thought that Eisenbud was losing his touch with the Sugarpova name change thing but this article, seemingly dictated by Eisenbud, makes me wonder if his touch is long, long gone. I think you'd be surprised at the number of people buying this "feud".

I think your comments about Navratilova are on the money. At least Chrissie, publicly, accepts that records are made to be broken. Navratilova seems to need her records to stand without challenge. Sad isn't it?

Savannah said...

Karen Martina should've stayed way away from this mess. As Professor has already said the rewards Pova gets from this constant, unrelenting focus on Serena are dubious at best. Yet we both know there are people who drink that particular brand of Haterade.

Maybe Martina is pissed because it's Serena? ;)