Category Archives: Serena Williams
So today Justine conducted a lengthy Belgian television interview. They apparently spoke about everything, and of course “everything” includes all those gamesmanship accusations that have popped up at the most important moments in her career. Like, you know, “the hand”, or “the call”, or “the retirement”.
I’m sure there are many gems to come out of this interview, but the best one?
“Perhaps I should have said that I raised my hand even though in honesty I still think that this didn’t change the course of the match because if I thought she was really perturbed by that, I think I would have reacted. Now, there’s a lot of tension, we act according to our instincts, so it’s true that this is not the best memory.. but in the same time, what happened beneath was magical. So there, I don’t know if this turned around the match. I hope I’m not in bad intentions when I say this.
It was perhaps a way to respect me, because it should be known that the Williams sisters have attitudes that are sometimes difficult… They have played enormously on intimidation. It should be known that when we play a Williams, and we walk on court, towards the entrance of the court, there was always the second besides. Because they show themselves that they are two together. One already makes a big impression, and it’s two.”
So basically she decided to use gamesmanship/cheat (whatever you want to call it) because Venus and Serena are bullies, and she wanted to get them back and force them to “respect” her? That is just too good.
Back when it happened, my immediate thought was that she just wanted to win at any costs. She has never had the outside interests of the Williams Sisters, Kim or the rest. And of course when she tried to, Pierre-Yves Hardenne happened. So, yeah, clearly tennis was only actual thing going on for her.
But this? This just blows any other possible conspiracy theory out of the water, and yet it comes straight from the horse’s mouth. What a way to justify cheating! It says a lot about her as a person, really. That she can see two women, two minority women, not afraid to stand up tall with confidence and strength, and that’s a problem? From where I’m standing, it only shows that she herself lacks/lacked confidence and she also lacks any strength of her own.
But most importantly, it’s just goddamn hilarious.
To add to it. She also admitted seeing the ball as ‘in’ against Clijsters, yet she still protested and eventually convinced the umpire to overrule on the most important point in the match. And in addition to that, as shown in the picture, they played back the “hand” incident to her and she just sat there laughing. Man, that woman is classy.
Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova are to participate in the “Nike Clash of the Champions” exhibition on March 8th at the University of Oregon, in Portland. The setup will be a singles set between Maria and Serena, mixed doubles and then Roger and Rafa rounding off the night with a singles match of their own. More info and phone numbers can be found here.
I’m glad Nike got it right this time. I remember their little exhibition in New York last year in which they brought these random “celebrities” on, which just completely killed the whole show. Hopefully they will stream it again as it should be fun. And it will especially be great to see Maria and Serena reunited once again.
(pic via SharapovaTennis)
Check below for the full quotes.
With 2011 fast approaching and the excitement of a brand new season slowly mounting to a fever pitch, I’ve taken to my trusty crystal ball to see what awaits us in the new year. I still wear my Schiavone French Open prediction like a crown, so will lightning strike twice in 2011 or will I be stuffing my face with humble pie this time around? We shall see. Remember, this is all in good fun so don’t take my word for gospel or anything.
Usually, 6-1 6-2 drubbings aren’t even considered noteworthy. Especially in Women’s tennis where they seem to happen so frequently in Grand Slam finals, and are usually met with the same ol’, same ol’ skepticism. But if there ever was a beatdown that has bypassed the usual rules, heading straight into the history books, it’s the 2007 final between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Why? There are just so many reasons. Too many reasons.
Though I’ve steered away from the evaluative year-end posts, it’s been interesting to see the general consensus on the best matches of 2010. While it is pretty obvious which men’s match tops the list (Isner and Mahut, duh), the women’s vote has been a lot trickier due to the fact that there haven’t been too many great matches this year. Many ended up settling with Serena Williams’ defeat of Justine Henin at the Australian Open final. I do see the argument behind picking this match; obviously they are two of the three best players of this generation (yeah, now isn’t the time to be getting into a Justine vs Venus debate), they are massive rivals, it was gripping, absorbing, and the first Women’s 3-set slam final in 97 years. But even so, I feel that though there were numerous moments of brilliance from both players, the quality of play was patchy and inconsistent, and for that reason, it cannot be classed as the match of 2010.
My nomination would, without a doubt, be the quarterfinal match at that very tournament between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. I don’t know how Vika has managed to amass so much bad karma to be drawn against Serena Williams so many times at the Australian Open, but over the last few years, she has landed herself in Serena’s tiny section of the draw so many times. In 2008 she was aced 15 times by Serena in a straight sets match that didn’t last much longer than an hour, and in 2009 she was forced to withdraw with heat exhaustion after taking the first set from her. So going into their 2010 quarterfinal, she had plenty of reason to be angry and determined to play her best tennis.
And she did. She came out onto the court all guns blazing – placing her typically weak serve well, attacking fearlessly off the ground and finishing most points at the net. Her play for the first set and a half was categorically flawless. That backhand… Easily one of the top five backhands in the world, it showed us all exactly way that day. Serena, though sluggish, wasn’t even particularly bad -- she was just being completely outclassed. The first set came and went, and before anyone knew it, Victoria was up 6-4 4-0 and two games away from bageling the then-four time champion.
At this point, quite literally any other player in history would have gone on to lose the match. Vika was not in the mood for choking, and she continued to play at an unwaveringly high level. The only way to beat her would be to pry the match away from her death grip. But that’s exactly what Serena did. The turning point was at 0-4 on Serena’s serve. The game dragged on to several deuces, and with some inspired passing shots and a couple of titanic rallies, Serena toughed out the game and her trademark confidence and self-belief slowly began to seep back into her game. Suddenly her serve was beginning to fire more frequently, she was moving better, she was hitting the ball cleaner, she was making more returns and looking to be aggressive off them – she was a new player. Azarenka did her best to stay close to Serena by bravely fighting to take the match into the tiebreak, and for a while the pair found themselves in a massive scuffle with some blistering and long rallies won by both, but Serena continued to improve and eventually took the second set 7-6(4).
The final set saw Serena hit full stride – acing and hitting return winners at will, but no matter whose side you were on, you had to feel sorry for Victoria. She would have murdered almost any other player in two easy sets that day, yet all she could do was stand there and watch as ball after ball flew past her. An amazing match.
A serious title for a serious post. Serena has officially withdrawn from the Australian Open. After last week’s withdrawal from the Hopman Cup, it was pretty likely that this gut-wrentching announcement was to follow, but even so, that doesn’t detract from the shock and pain of seeing such a great champion withdrawing from yet another tournament. She needs tennis, and tennis needs her.
It’s especially sad considering the fact that the Australian Open has come to form the most successful tournament of her career. Not only has she won a total of five slams there, but it has also been the setting for some of her greatest victories and moments on a tennis court - from most likely the greatest performance of her career against Sharapova in the 2007 final, to her multiple matchpoint-saving semifinal comebacks against Sharapova in 2005 and Clijsters in 2003 (from 1-5 down in the third), to the clinching of the Serena Slam as she defeated Venus in the 2003 final.
The reactions to the news have been pretty interesting to say the least. While most are genuinely sorry for her withdrawal, many seem to be writing her off for the rest of her career. And it’s such a dangerous thing to do. I mean she’s Serena Williams, after all. How many times has she proved her detractors wrong? She didn’t get to where she is by following trends. Steffi Graf may not have won any Grand Slams past 31, but did she limit her tournaments and keep herself as fresh as Serena has done throught her career? No.
I also get a sense that Serena herself is fully aware of the fact that she won’t be young forever. Her serve has always been a great weapon, but in recent times she has taken it to even greater heights. At Wimbledon she was practically unbeatable simply because there wasn’t a girl in the world (no, not even Rihanna) who could touch it. The genius thing about that is that it means that rather than sweating it out in every service game, she can just smack down three aces and an unreturnable and the game is hers. Say hello to longevity.
But in general, I think it’s quite pointless and even disrespectful to start writing a player off before they have even hit a ball again. If she comes back and loses in the first round of her next four slams (touch wood that doesn’t happen), then sure, go for it. Hell, even if she comes back and wins the next four grand slams it would be fine to write her off - stupid, very stupid, but perfectly fine. But at least give the girl a chance to get back on court before you start writing her tennis obituary.
One thing that will be interesting is to see who takes advantage of this meteor-sized gaping hole in the Australian draw come January. There is so much talent on the tour of today even without Serena - from the older Williams, to the Belgians, to the Russians, to the Serbs, and so on. The problem is that most of them have had an absolutely abysmal 2010 and have played far below what they are capable of, and indeed far below the level they have performed at in the past. But the new year brings a clean start and a fresh beginning, and so if the aforementioned do decide to turn up and play elite tennis, then we could still be in for a cracker of a beginning to 2011. I sure hope they do.
“Of course it’s disappointing. The whole team was really looking forward to having Venus & Serena on the team.”
Mary Joe Fernandez
Over the years Elena Dementieva has been involved in her fair share of battles. Battles with Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport… everyone. So many became instant classics, showcasing everything that made Elena Dementieva such an incredible tennis player and character. There was the good; her courage, her resilience, her incredible athleticism, her unrivalled fitness, her goofy celebrations, those legendary one-way arguments with Mommy Vera and, of course, that trademark Full-body Rotation Screaming Forehand of Death. And there was the bad; that thing (also known as her serve) and of course her well-documented mental fragility. So many of these classics ended in complete heartbreak and bitter disappointment for Elena, but not many came close to the agony of last year’s Wimbledon semi-final.
Throughout the years, the one surface that Elena struggled to conquer was grass. Between 2000 and 2007, she made the quarterfinals only once – her serve holding her back on the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon. However, as the years went by she finally seemed to master the serve that had troubled her for so long. In 2008 she reached her first ever Wimbledon semi-final. She would eventually lose to Venus Williams in straight sets, but that was okay, it gave her the preparation she needed to go that one step further next year. And she did… almost.
In 2009, serve improving with every match, she again raced into the semifinals, where she would take on Serena Williams. This time, she was ready. She sent a message down the court from the very first game, immediately breaking Serena to take an early lead. As the match wore on, the rallies raged. The pace they were bludgeoning the ball at was impressive, but not more impressive than the pure athleticism that both players exhibited. They both broke boundaries that day, reaching balls that so few could reach and turning defence into offence in the most unlikely and unbelievable positions.
Eventually the pair found themselves tied at a set all and 4-4. At this point, though the score was so painstakingly close, it was Elena whose groundstrokes were by far the more reliable and impressive of the two. She held, and then at 5-4* she fought her way to 30-30 and finally, she had a chance. The Russian took it with both hands, and after a lengthy rally she smashed down a trademark crosscourt forehand winner. And suddenly she was one point away from her first ever Wimbledon final.
She may have lost confidence in her misfiring groundstrokes, but there is a reason why Serena Williams is the greatest player of her generation. Rather than panicking, Serena attacked and then moved forward to the net, forcing Elena to come up with the goods to win the match from her. As we all know, Elena couldn’t. She ended up taking the backhand pass far too low, and had no choice but to roll it crosscourt. Serena pounced on the volley, and that was that. Serena would go on to win the match 6-7 7-5 8-6, while Elena would be left distraught.
She may have lost the match, but she put on an incredible show. She wowed hourdes of fans with her game, and charmed the rest with her personality. Just as she did wherever she went. And that’s precisely why we will all miss her.