Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Week That Was

by Savannah

Brad Gilbert @bgtennisnation · 22h 22 hours ago
I can not believe for the 2nd year in a row US down 2-0 to GB,this is unacceptable and new low for US tennis = I am so absolutely bummed out

I'll get to Brad Gilbert's statement in a few minutes. A lot happened in women's tennis this past week that I'd like to comment on.

The first has to do with Serena Williams and her long time friend and hitting partner Aleksandar (Sascha) Bajin.

 photo Ryan Pfluger  for NY times_zpspdpshg2w.jpg

When Sascha didn't show up with Serena in Australia talk started. Some saw a conspiracy masterminded by Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena's coach and to say that their comments bordered on the absurd is putting it mildly. Sascha has always referred to Serena as his boss but for these "fans" Serena has lost her mind, is dickmatized, and is unable to resist the suggestions of the Svengali now running the show in their view.

Let's all take a deep breath, take a step back and look at the situation realistically. Serena will be 34 in September. She is no longer the girl who blasted her way onto the Main Tour and began winning slams. It sounds silly because she is definitely not in her dotage but at her age she has to become more protective of her body and mind. Will this mean playing less? Yes.
Will this mean changing the way she plays? Yes.
To play the hard charging take no prisoners style she played when she was younger would be stupid and one thing Serena is not is stupid. I think she's playing just as aggressively as she always has. She's just become more subtle about it. And that seems to be a problem for some of her fans.

It's interesting that Venus Williams has worked with David Witt for years now without too much controversy. Serena has worked with Patrick for a shorter period of time and yet he's seen by some as the devil incarnate. He's destroyed Serena. He's cleaning house and replacing long term allies with his own people. And poor Serena is just standing by and letting it happen because he's got the magic stick. These people want Richard Williams and Oracene Price to start traveling with their daughter again, to restore the style of tennis they want to see her play and the hell with what Serena has decided is best for her.

Let's be honest. Serena's goal is to play the Olympics in 2016. Will she be playing less? Probably. Will she be focused on the Slams? More than likely. Does playing Indian Wells fit into this strategy? Absolutely.

Let's take a few more steps back. Remember a few years ago when Sascha first made noise about leaving Serena's team and what her response was? She wouldn't let him go. The situation now is totally different. After 2016 will she still play a full schedule? I have no idea but my guess would be no. Does it then make sense for her to let Sascha, a man she considers a brother, test the waters and maybe end up coaching another top player and not assigned the position of "hitting partner"? Would she be that selfish? The answer is apparently no.

I do have one little worry about Sascha going to work with Wim Fissette and Victoria Azarenka. I lost a lot of respect for Fissette after his stunt at the YEC with Simona Halep who turned around and fired him. We already know that Azarenka is a win at all costs woman and I suspect that if it had been her who had been on the receiving end of the advice Fissette gave Halep we'd have seen a different response. Her fans hate for it to be brought up but that ten minute medical time out that she admitted was a tactic to disrupt the rhythm of her opponent on court only to deny it later shows the lengths Azarenka will go to. I think she and Fissette are a perfect match. Sascha is coming out of a different environment, one where winning was everything but there was never the hint of cheating on the part of the woman he worked for.

I suppose Sascha is looking towards that break Fissette is said to be taking later in the year for the birth of his child. It would mean he'd be head coach for a time. That is if Azarenka and Fissette last that long.

No matter what I wish Sascha the best. We all should.

As for those who feel they know what's best for Serena they need to check themselves. Serena is still in charge of her life. Stop it.

For those who think Serena put no thought into her return to Indian Wells here's a post by Andreen Soley that I found posted on Tennis Panorama News that speaks to the reasoning behind her decision to support the Equal Justice Initiative and tie it to her return. If you still want to hate, the line is to the left.

Miscellany

Remember a couple of years ago when Petra Kvitova first came on the scene? She was this publicity shy, out of shape player who could hit the snot out of the ball and won Wimbledon? I do. I remember saying at the time that she didn't have the personality to withstand the pressure that comes with being a top tennis player.

Fast forward to 2015. Like so many others she showed up in Australia fit, the fittest I've ever seen her. Yet her results were surprisingly weak. Maybe she was used to lugging around the extra weight, I don't know. I do know that she has withdrawn from Indian Wells citing "fatigue". Really? Did her birthday this past week have any bearing on her "fatigue"? Still at least we got an explanation for her withdrawal even though the Main Draw hadn't been released yet. We're all still waiting for the reason for another withdrawal, this one in Monterrey. Yes it's an International level tournament but the WTA rule book says a reason has to be given for withdrawal. I guess the rules are made for some and not others.

2015 Davis Cup: Great Britain vs the United States Glasgow, Scotland

I've been saying for a few years now that US tennis was in a crisis. That Brad Gilbert, the insiders insider in US Tennis, made the statement posted above before the doubles rubber had been played and that it stayed true is surprising only because someone like Gilbert said it.

US men's tennis was not prepared for Andy Roddick's retirement. He'd been carrying men's tennis on his back and got tired of it. Who would be the next star? Sam Querrey, the man who said a loss was no big deal because he could go home and drive his mother's Porsche? Yeah he was going to have that killer instinct. John Isner? All serve and very little else? The man who came onto the main tour after college? The man who said he was glad to escape from the wilds of New York City and return to "God's Country"? Donald Young who needed a different game than the one preferred by the US tennis establishment and is just now starting to develop it? Ryan Harrison who just recently stopped throwing tantrums on court and buckling down to play tennis? Robbie Ginepri?
The results in Glasgow have left the US tennis program naked and exposed to the world for what it is. Some were snarking that it was a shame that the US was defeated by a team with only one player in the top 100. What they didn't mention is that that player is ranked #4 in the world. Who is the highest ranked US player? That would be John Isner who is currently ranked #20.

Who is coming up behind the men I mentioned above? They're all very young. Except for Steve Johnson who has created a bit of a buzz around himself. It would've been nice if he'd been made eligible to play one of the rubbers on the final day of singles. He might not have won but it would show that the US is looking outside of the box for talent.
Instead of that the main focus seems to be on Jim Courier, Davis Cup Captain. Many are calling for his head because he should've done better. My question is with what? Isner hasn't been having the best of years. Young is just getting used to doing well. I guess it's his fault that the only players used to pressure are the 36 year old twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. We're in bad shape in singles. We're in worse shape in doubles. If the Bryans retire after the 2016 Olympics are there any men ready to step into their shoes? If you see any your eyesight is better than mine.

There are still those who are trying to put a good face on things. I understand one comm was heard to say that Isner played very well today. I don't know what match he was watching. It was Donald Young who took a set off of Murray not Isner who looked unable to think coherently during today's match.

Meanwhile look at what Sweden did with young Elias Ymer. No one expected him to win his rubber today and while he put up a good fight he didn't. Playing in the hot house environment that is Davis Cup will pay dividends three or four years from now. The US is not ready to lose now in order to win later.

Until the US tennis establishment realizes that when it comes to men's tennis they're a few years away from possibly having competitive players our status will not improve. Great Britain has that one guy in the top 100 who is pretty enthusiastic about Davis Cup. None of our guys looked that enthusiastic. None.



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15 comments:

Randy Burgess said...

Okay I put my knuckles in my mouth and waited 24 hours for someone else to comment. No one has commented so far but hopefully they will. I also just flogged your site on my Facebook feed. Unfortunately I don't think I have many Friends who are into tennis - it is all behavioral psychology & art & lefty politics - but maybe there is someone I don't know about who is into the sport. You deserve more readers & I hate being one of the very few & sometimes the only to comment.

Anyway this post made me laugh. I had never heard of "dickmatized" before, had to look it up. And "magic stick" - if I had been drinking coffee I would surely have spilled it.

Alas you are so right about both Serena haters and over-protective fans. There are those, hopefully most of us, who understand she is an adult and can make her own decisions. There are those on tennis sites who utter hate speech in the most bizarre ways. And then there are those who claim they care about her but refuse to believe she has a clue & can run her own life. You have nailed this latter group pretty much exactly.

As for the U.S. Davis Cup - I've enjoyed a fair number of ties over the past 4 or 5 years, but I could care less about the U.S. team as such. Jim Courier is an okay guy but in his current role he is a mouth in a suit. John Isner is only exciting when he's going for broke on his return game, and despite his having once drubbed Federer on clay that way, he seems to want to play passive. So he stays off my radar.

Donald Young on the other hand does interest me - not as a cog in the DC wheel, but because I would like to be able to like him as a player. Great soft hands, potentially a great mover; but he plays so small! Can he solve his own puzzle?

But there was one thing I was really curious about with this UK-US tie: all those photos of James Ward exulting. He makes Giles Simon look fat. In retrospect I wish I had seen the tie just to see the matchstick ignite. Davis Cup is fun that way. Some players seem to love it & a small name can make a big noise.

Savannah said...

Randy imagine seeing close to 500 hits in a day and not one response? This happens every now and then.

As for Ward what I remember most was that purple paisley kit. Talk about back to the future!

It seems that Murray has taken him under his wing and Ward seems to be responding. He's playing Qualies in Indian Wells and you know there will be a lot of people paying attention.

Ward is very thin but remember Murray before he started to bulk up?

Young is not a big guy. I saw him walk by at the US Open and thought he was a junior player.

But you are right, he does play small. I said it before and will keep saying it: Davydenko would've been a good player for him to study. The US hit hard and harder style suits only players like Isner who is not playing well at all lately, and Sampras who played when tennis players were less concerned about fitness than they are now. I don't know why the US has such undersized players - Lauren Davis is another one - but for whatever reason there are more than just those two.

US tennis is in bad shape until Tiafoe and some of the youngsters mature.

Savannah said...

Oh and thanks for putting me on Facebook!

glxy55 said...

Savannah,

I have to say I think you've been a bit unfair to the SerenaFans (and trust me, I lose more than a little patience with the more irrational among us) over the split with Sascha. I for one found the decision unsurprising, particular in the context of Sascha not being present at the Australian Open, but I still found the announcement a bit jarring.

While I am not among the digmatized-Svengali group, I confess that I am not altogether, shall we say, trusting of Moratogulu, which has nothing to do at all with Serena not knowing her mind. I have my own reasons for my side-eyed view of Patrick; for example, he's been a little too fond of the camera and accepting of interviews than I find easy to ignore (how many other coaches have we seen interviewed with such frequency?) ... I'll just leave "that" there for now.

The real point I want to make is that all of this drama, speculating and suspiciousness could have been easily alleviated if Serena had simply come out with a statement announcing the change and the reasons for it. If Serena is making this change for career reasons or in selfless consideration for Sascha, anything along those lines, then what's wrong with simply saying that? Don't the fans deserve as much?

By leaving so much unsaid there was more than enough room left in which to fill in the gaps with Moratogolu-as-Svengali assertions and the like.

More could have been said, and should have been said by Serena to the fans on this, in my opinion.

Savannah said...

Hmm. I remember the first pictures I saw of Serena with Sascha and wondering who he was. I don't think she announced hiring him and I think her Tweet wishing him well says it all. This wasn't a decision that was made lightly by anyone involved. If you are on Twitter @oracene tweeted to Sascha and Vika that she missed him on Wednesday evening. This was, in my uninformed, no inside information opinion, a fledging. If he wanted to go it was time to let him go. And think about it: was there an announcement that Richard would no longer be traveling with either of his daughters? That Oracene would also cut back on her travel? That's not the Williams way.

As for Patrick I don't get the hate. He does run an Academy and one way to get students is to publicize yourself. He's also coaching the woman who is arguably one of, if not the top female athlete in the world and there is going to be a lot of press interest. If you notice he says very little that could be construed as flaunting his professional relationship with Serena. The most bragging he does is when, after a victory, he tweets out "proud". I see other tennis players are doing that now. Andy Murray did it after Great Britain's win of the US.

And how many titles has Serena won since working with Patrick?

I accept the change as a reality in the world of business that tennis is a part of. Why shouldn't Sascha be allowed to pursue his dreams? Why should Serena stand in his way? She didn't want to let him go before. She did now. It means that for both of them it was now time to let go. If I'm harsh on the lunatic fringe it's because they're acting like, well a lunatic fringe, crazy people who are acting as if their idol has wronged them by handling her business in a way they don't want her to.

No doubt it's going to be weird seeing Sascha sitting with Wim Fissette. It's going to take us all some time to get used to that. Some of us never will. But at least give the woman we admire credit for having the ability to run her career. The fans who are ranting and raving aren't doing that.

glxy55 said...

Savannah, thanks for the reply.

I would not compare what Serena did or did not do eight years ago when she hired Sascha with what she did or did not do in 'announcing' the split. The end of an eight-year professional relationship, merits more than a tweet out of respect for the relationship itself and the fans, particularly considering the close personal relationship of Serena and Sascha. Speculations only create unnecessary drama.

I am not on Twitter, don't follow people on Twitter, so I can't speak to the significance of what happens in the Twittersphere. Sorry, but I don't know what you meant with reference to Oracene's tweet. As for Richard cutting back on his travel, perhaps there was not a formal announcement, but his decision was generally known and understood—his age and respect for the maturation of his daughters. Similarly, with Oracene. Also, Oracene made it clear years ago that she was cutting back on travel to tournaments. She communicated her intentions publicly.

As for what is "not" the Williams way. I cannot speak to that directly, but can indirectly speak to what appears to be clearly be a Williams' family value—loyalty. And it is the apperance of a lack of loyalty that I think has some, rankled. If Sascha wanted to leave, of course, he should be allowed to go. But again, we are all speculating about the nature of the split.

As for Patrick advertising his academy, you perhaps just hit on why some resent Patrick as much as they do—advertising (along with his ever-present media presence) smacks of opportunism and exploitation. It's the very fact that he does have this academy that necessitates him avoiding the appearance of conflicts of interests. Is Patrick serving Patrick or is Patrick serving Serena? The obvious answer is both, but that's a glib response; leaves the door of distrust open, for the skeptics (like me) to walk through. None of us can fully and faithfully serve two masters. BTW, I view skepticism as a healthy trait when used in its basic sense of seeking the truth.

As for press interest in Patrick, that's understood; but it's also possible for Patrick to simply say no to requests, or say no more often. Maybe he did turn down a few interviews, but it seemed in every Serena match, there was an on-screen interview. I've long since given up the cable subscription, so I don't know if there's been a change in that pattern. And, it is precisely because he is coaching "arguably one of, if not the top female athlete in the world", that he should defer, in my opinion. It's likely just my perception, but I don't recall Richard and Oracene in on-camera interviews as much as I've seen Patrick.

As other examples, Hogstedt, Rodriguez and Lendl did wonders with their respective charges (Sharapaova, Li Na, Andy Murray). We didn't see these coaches publicly discussing their players and promoting themselves. Certainly with not such frequency. Or, at least I didn't. Check out Patrick in the stands at this year's AO final. His shirt and cap bear an insignia, an M; that appears to be the insignia his academy. (I did a brief internet search; couldn't find the actual emblem.) If that is in fact his insignia, this was a clear sign of self-promotion and opportunism. There is also a link on his site focused on Serena that feels exploitative, though I freely admit it must be there with her permission.

Another thing: Sascha is not the only change we've seen recently— the decision to play Indian Wells (not going into that!); Esther Lee, Oracene and Venus were not in the box for Serena's 19th slam victory. Little changes by themselves mean nothing, taken together, they add up. It's only natural to wonder what is going on and why; minus, of course, the hating and Svengali characterizations. And much of this wondering could have been avoided, if the split had been explained.

Savannah said...

glxy55 I hope you got to see Serena's Press Conference this afternoon where she said that Sascha wanted to be more of a coach and that that was why he left.

I understand that you have your reasons for not being on social media like Twitter but right now Tennis Twitter is the best source of information for the sport we love. There are so many people who are reporting the news both on court and off, the players make announcements, and the industry in general presents itself there.

This is what @oracene tweeted yesterday: Oracene @Oracene · 22h 22 hours ago
@BigSascha @vika7 I miss you big Sascha :(

The transcript of her press conference won't be out until tomorrow. Since you've made it clear I can't assume fans are plugged into the news cycle I will post it when it comes out. Meanwhile here's a link to an artilce about the presser. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/12/us-tennis-indian-serena-idUSKBN0M82MM20150312

Randy Burgess said...

This is what seems different to me when it comes to Serena as opposed to some of the other top players: Talking about what Serena and her family should do *as if they owe it to their fans.*

Although maybe that is actually a good way to look at it. Because after all, without their fans, stars wouldn't stars. And there is probably a sense among entertainers not only in sports & but in music etc. that they do need to relate to their fans & keep them informed of developments. And probably it is more fun for stars to find ways to strengthen the bond with their fans & keep it going.

But still - that sense that Serena "owes" it to her fans to do an anouncement just the right way so that the fans don't have to speculate and fill in the gaps - this, I don't get it.

Twitter is not okay for Serena to use, even when so many people are on it?

And it is not okay for Moratogulu to wear clothes with the insignia of his academy on them because the camera might show this, and he is supposed to be mind-reading all the Serena fans and know that this is taboo because it is "self-promotional"?

The narrative here seems to be that everything needs to be done just the right way by absolutely everyone in Serena's life to make sure that there is not something sinister at work. People exploiting her in ways that uh . . . well actually I am not sure what is supposed to be going on that is terrible but something I guess. To me the terrible crap that has happened to Venus & Serena has been right out in the open, not secret - like the cut foot & what happened at IW. Bad things have happened but not because of conspiracies or people wearing the wrong clothing.

And frankly I can't think of two people in professional sports who would be less suspectible to exploitation than Serena and Venus. I don't know much about them, because I am not an obsessive fan of them or any player; but what little I do know has suggested for years now that their parents did a good job of raising two independent, strong-minded young women. To me this has always been the case. And frankly I wonder if it isn't this very independence and strength that bothers some fans.

glxy55 said...

Thanks Savannah; very much appreciate the information and the link. Only wish Serena had come out and said this up front. Could have eliminated a lot of the fan-drama, my own included.

I did not see or hear the presser. I read a brief article covering it in which Serena stated that Richard supports her return to Indian Wells. So that alleviates another area of concern I had about what was going on behind the scenes.

I'll take your advice on Tennis Twitter; that might be the only thing that will get me to step foot into the Twitterverse.

BTW, where did you watch the presser? They're not typically televised, though I imagine with the interest around this one, it likely was on ESPN? I use ASAP Sports for transcripts, but it's always so much better to see the conference, the video (in order to read tones of voice, attitudes and the like).

I'll also be checking back here for more postings.

Enjoy the tennis!!

Savannah said...

Randy you have no idea! Just a few minutes ago I read a post by a "fan" who said that it was clear from the press conference that Serena FIRED Sascha.

The picture that surfaced yesterday of a seemingly distraught Serena being comforted by her sister has also got the "fans" saying that she broke down because she "fired" Sascha and misses him. Forget that Serena in her presser said she had seen the picture and that while it did look as if she was having a meltdown that was not the case.

Oh, and because Patrick answered a question about Venus he's trying to take over her life too.

Now they're flat out making shit up. I'm beginning to wonder if these are really rabid Serena fans or trolls working behind the scenes to damage her image and relationship with her real fans? That's my conspiracy theory!

Savannah said...

glxy55 as you can see from my response to Randy it doesn't matter what Serena says. Some fans will put words in her mouth and make stuff up out of thin air.

The presser, or part of it, was carried on ESPNNews yesterday afternoon. The room was packed to the rafters.

ASAP Sports is the place to get interview transcripts but there is a 24 hour waiting period before they are officially published.

glxy55 said...

Randy, I'd like to address some of your points, particularly since several of them are obviously directed toward statements I made.

You have injected words and phrases into the discussion--"should", "owed" and "the right way"--that I find problematic. Without recognizing it, you are committing the very folly that you are criticizing. You have placed yourself in the judge's seat. After all, you are taking offense at what others do as if they "should" do or say things in a certain way, a "right way" that conforms to your sensibilities, your views of what are "right" or "wrong" or "okay" are. Perhaps, you don't see it that way, but a moment's honest reflection will reveal the judgmental attitude in your thinking.

Show me any athlete who thinks he or she is a world unto himself/herself, and has no responsibility to their fans, and I'll show you a narcissist. Like it or not, the athlete has responsibilities to the fan. I used the word "merit" to describe that responsibility. I, for one, would never confuse "merit" with "owed". Furthermore, I specifically made my statement in the context of the relationship between Serena and Sascha. SerenaFans love Sascha, recognized him as her "big brother", her protector. Naturally, they would want to know what's going on with, and in, that relationship. I make no excuse for the rabid fan, an altogether different ilk who I am not at all to be confused with. I find my concerns within reason, even if you do not.

Similarly, I never said that it was 'not okay' for Serena to use Twitter. I stated that something more was needed to avoid unwarranted speculation. Surely, I don't need to remind you of the basic purpose of communication and public relations?

As for Moratogulu's insignia—you have taken my observation and distorted it into a simplistic statement about right/wrong. I am no moralist, or ethicist. I have more than enough sense to know that it's perfectly okay for Patrick to do whatever he chooses. I also have a basic understanding of human nature. Human beings formulate thoughts and feelings, opinions and beliefs, based upon our own experiences. What we think, feel and believe, what we express are reflections of who we are, what we value. Personally, I highly value trust and loyalty. As such, I view every experience, no matter who or what is involved, through that lens. There's nothing abnormal or unacceptable about that, though you clearly find it so.

What matters, of course, is what we do with our thoughts, feelings, opinions and beliefs. No harm is done to Patrick by what I think of him, the skepticism I express. My comment and observation is no different than what you have done, and are doing—expressing an opinion.
I am willing to let anyone be who and what they are. Where I am sure I trump the typical rabid fan, is that I am wise enough to know when I am projecting and displacing, I know how to use that very human tendency as fodder for growth.

To remain off the high horse as often as possible, prevent becoming too comfortable in the seat of judgment, to ensure that I retain perspective, I often refer to and quote Anais Nin, who expressed perfectly the reality of human nature: "We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are".

There's probably more or other that I could or should say to clarify myself, but hopefully I have thoroughly and respectfully addressed your points.

Randy Burgess said...

glxy55,

You write nicely - and much of what you have written truthfully about me, I believe I could have written about you, and just as truthfully. Indeed I thought of adding something like your point to what I had already said. But you have said it better than I could.

What would make the most sense to me is if you revised your earlier concerns to reflect their nature as you have described all such concerns in your latest missive: i.e. to admit that they are subjective feelings & views that arise out of your own circumstances & history & nature and are not an external property of reality. I completely agree that we not only ought to, but can, own our views of others as precisely that: our views, maddeningly "true" to us but otherwise subjective. And without shame, either. I think if you cast back on the passages you wrote earlier, you might be willing to consider that they imply some "shoulds" here & there. I didn't pluck those from nowhere.

But rather than get into still more chapter & verse, which I think would be pointless, I'll just admit the truth of what you have written now. And I thank you for how gracefully you have put it.

Savannah said...

Glxy55 I came very close to not publishing your comments but in the end I thought that in the interest of discourse between fans that it was important that your views be aired here since they reflect so much of what I've seen on fan sites and Twitter from, let's say passionate Serena and Sascha fans. I put it like that because once or twice these passionate fans admit that they ship the two, that they see them as a perfect couple whether that is reality or not. The reactions of many of these fans are akin to those who ship a couple and are freaked out that the show runner and/or writers don't see that A & B belong together.
I can say that as someone who has shipped hard for some couples in the past and still do. I can say that as a fan who has seen what sometimes happens when the writers give into what the fans want. Sometimes it ain't so pretty because it ruins the dynamic of the show.

Like Randy I got the impression that you felt Mouratoglou wearing a cap with the insignia of his Academy was somehow wrong. When Tio Toni wears his cap featuring the "Iberostar" insignia at every match is that wrong? When Nike athletes are required to wear the brand in all official appearances? Patrick's hat is no different from any of the situations mentioned. In the world of sports you are who you pimp. Serena and many others pimp Nike. Patrick pimps his academy. Nothing to see here. Time to move on.

Still, you are entitled to your opinions and have the right for them to heard and I'm glad my better judgement won out and you and Randy had a chance to "talk" to each other. We tennis fans are a cantankerous bunch and if all of us ever agree on something that is rare.
I used to say trying to get all tennis fans to agree on something is like trying to herd cats. I still think that's the case. :)

glxy55 said...

Randy: Everything I said was and is also a statement about myself. I wrote from that perspective. I am a rather clear-eyed individual when it comes to my own weaknesses and flaws. Everything I write, or at least mostly everything I write, is a result of what I have experienced in, of and about the person I was, am and am striving to be. Nin's words are as true as any ever written about human nature and, of course, human nature includes me.

Savannah: I made my comment to Randy not as confrontation, but for clarity. I am pleased to see that he received it as intended. Clearly, what any of us write is always subject to interpretation.

As for the reference you made to Tio Toni, I don't know who he/she is. I don't know what "ship the two" means, though I can infer meaning from the context in which you used it. Of course, I could google the term, but since I'm not focused on the personal relationship of Serena and Patrick (at least in the sense implied), I'll defer on that.

Just to sum it up . . . I think in terms of appropriate/inappropriate, and that, in terms of my personal values; not right and wrong, or good and bad. Like any, I tend to be (mistakenly) incensed when my values are affronted, but I always remain mindful that what I am feeling, thinking, saying and doing is as much about me as the object of those thoughts ,feelings and actions. I am always consciously or subconsciously asking questions of myself that inform me whether a situation or experience is in or out of alignment with what I value. We all do this, but most people are totally unaware that they're doing it. I try not to make the mistake of believing that others share my values with the same level of passion, interest or concern; though like any I relish when that happens (a rare experience indeed!).

For what it's worth, my values clarification inquiry, includes questions such as: Does this situation reflect what matters most to me? Can I relate to this? Do I identify with it? Can I trust it, feel safe with it? What is it telling me about me that is in the shadow that should be brought to the light? The answers to those questions often lead to and result in opinions. Those opinions are not expressed for the purpose of judging others, but to inform me of what I feel or think about a situation, and more importantly why I feel and think as I do about it. When I express my opinion, write it, my personal truth becomes real enough to deal with, meaning I can embrace it or let it go.

I enjoy the entertainment value of tennis immensely, but it is interactions on sites like this, the misunderstandings, differences in points of view, that give tennis its highest value for me-- the opportunity for healing, growth and expansion. I call that spiritual. I call that good.

Enjoy the tennis!