Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - The Millstone
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The Millstone 05/07/2007 - 4:04 PM

I certainly hope she finds in marriage the things she didn't get from tennis, or at least things that may one day lead her to look back on a decidedly checkered career and say, "Hey, maybe that wasn't so bad, after all."

Kimmy Well, Steve Tignor has got Rome covered, live, so let's talk about the women. For those of you who were wondering what it would take to get WTA tennis back in the discussion (the WTA goes almost totally off piste at this time of year, leaving the men on the European clay-court circuit to hog all the glory), here's your answer: Champagne Kim Clijster's retirement, which she announced just the other day at her website, www.IhatetennisanddidyouknowI'

As I've already written in my Monday ESPN blog, the news comes not a minute too soon for me. Kim made a career out of being "nice", although I would put it slightly differently: she staked out the high ground of "niceness" quite effectively, but managed - especially near the end of her tedious and uninspired career - to use that apprehension as a handy shield while she kept ducking her head out to make it sound as if having a remunerative career as a global tennis star is a sentence worse than death (which, for me, would be watching an endless tape loop of a typical Kim Clijsters tennis match).

A few people have already written me, asking why I "hate" Champagne Kimmy. I think we've covered this ground pretty well over the past 24 months at this blog, so I'm only giving the short version. First, I don't hate anybody. Kim is a public figure who can - and ought to be -  be judged by her actions and words in the public arena, and on what she brought to her profession. To me, her actions and words often hit a false note, and what she brought to the profession was a solid but dull game and a deeply flawed competitive nature.

And I wouldn't be saying all this if Clijsters had handled this abrupt departure from the game (she's only 23) with something like grace, humility and charm. Instead, she backed out sniping and carping, like some disgruntled peasant milkmaid ruing her lot and making poisonous accusations against the Lady of the Manor - was it Madame Justine?

In fact, there is only one compassionate way to look at Kim's messy, clumsy, poorly orchestrated "retirement" process (this potential "farewell tour" ended up looking more like some rock concert that ends abruptly when everybody starts burning chairs and throwing punches). I suppose that deep down she might feel conflicted about leaving tennis, the game she purports to despise; that would certainly explain why she seems to feel so obliged to keep telling anyone who'll listen (is there anyone like that left?) that she's dying to get married, that she can't wait to have children, that she's so excited about starting her new life. Maybe she's trying to convince herself, along with us. I don't know and I stopped caring a while ago. Cut her some slack? Sure, whatever. . .

My fundamental antipathy to Clijsters goes way back, too. Most of the time, when I see a young player who's destined to be a Grand Slam champ, I'm either deeply impressed or I make a mental note: Keep an eye on this one. . . When I first saw Clijsters, I groaned. I thought: very good athlete, excellent movement for a girl so thickly built, a game with roughly the same degree of sex appeal as curling, but without the wacky bits that make curling fun to watch for 30 seconds. She might have moved me off my position if she had showed some heart and drive, won me over with her competitive character, but as time went on it became apparent to me that she was one of the least inspired players I've ever watched.

Perhaps Kimmy was the prisoner of a game at which she happened to be very good, but which brought out nothing great in her. Maybe there's nothing "great" in her, and that's okay - that would make her like me and some of you. It certainly could explain why she was as eager to "get out" as some lifetime mid-level manager stuck in a whopper of a bureaucracy. But the thing is, she wasn't stuck in a situation anything like that: tired paper shufflers don't get to see Paris, free, or earn over $15 million (just prize-money) in a nine-year career. It's not about the money, of course, except in the ways that it is.

What Kimmy did so routinely, and why I take some pleasure in poking fun at her, is drain the fun, beauty and spontaneity out of the game. She made it seem that tennis really is a just a dumb game featuring two people randomly batting a ball back-and-forth around over a net. I'm not sure she ever made an interesting comment or observation. I suppose it's not entirely fair to hold someone accountable for being terminally dull. But I had the feeling that there was more to it than that - that for Clijsters it was somehow not worth the bother to say what she really thought or felt, or perhaps even to know, herself, what she thought or felt. That it was not worth the effort to address her shortcomings as a player or competitor. That it was too much trouble to cowboy up and accept all the things that come with the territory of being a top player. It was easier just to go through the motions.

But wait, you say, she was always injured! I guess you can take that into account. But it seems that when someone like her promoter pal Bob Verbeeck called, she flung away her crutches like some New Testament leper and rushed to play - after all, the tournament was at home in Belgium, in front of her adoring fans. That was just one of the many things that didn't add up, or did, but to a different portrait than the one Kimmy wanted to see painted of herself. No wonder she ended up despising the artist.

But wait, she was nice.

In professional terms, "nice" is - at best - a value-added component. Evonne Goolagong Cawley was a great player and a charismatic, warm person who loved the game  - and she was "nice", too.  Monica Seles was a Grand Slam warrior princess and a charming ingenue, who also happened to be "nice." Martina Navratilova wasn't "nice" but who cared? She was an awesome champion, honest (if not always with and about herself) to a flaw, and she didn't give a hang about being "nice."

Being "nice" isn't all that different from being good-looking. It's great to be that; it's certainly better than being a grouch, in the same way that being handsome beats being plug-ugly. But being nice is not a virtue; it's a characteristic - just like being comely. The drama of a life is played out between the virtues (some of them, like honesty, are morally based; others, like courage, are psychologically and physically based) not the characteristics, and for higher stakes. If you're merely "nice" you may not experience that drama, or ever understand the finished work. That may be part of Clijsters problem, too. It would certainly explain why she seems so angry and baffled by her life and history in tennis.

Everyone largely writes his or her own story, and even if you love Kim Cljisters you have to admit that the story she wrote became a downer. She's a human buzz kill. She's even managed to make people feel indifferent to what is supposed to be a high and happy point of her adult life. So now I've convinced myself that Clijsters is a figure who deserves some measure of sympathy, for "niceness" might very well have been the millstone hanging around this girl's neck all these years.

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Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 05/08/2007 at 09:01 AM

Dunlop makes some interesting points about life on the tour - I watched an exo by a D-1 womens university team who has won their league a couple of times and they seemed like happy university students who were also very good players - ok not pro level and perhaps never pro level. They were on a team with peers and had a coach who wasn't a parent - having the higher education experience. Perhaps there is something there in terms of maturity before going from being a child to being on an international stage.

The NBA finally owned up to the problems created in drafting directly out of high school and deferred it for a year, so the guys can have at least one year at a higher level to see if they can make it = the NBA found (after being seriously pressured) that so many young guys (and alot of African American) were drafted to see if they could make it and when the majority did not they ended back on the street in the old neighborhood with no chance to go back and attend university and play there - where they would have either know quickly the next level was not an option or have a year or two or three to continue to learn and mature and perhaps try out again when they are more prepared.

The last thing on this is the whole growing physical thing = in the US where they start racing young horses early - two and three, they simply aren't strong and mature enough en mass to hold up and many end up broken down. In Europe, where they delay the stress on young horses it is easy to see them showing and hunting into their teens.

Perhaps it is a combination of the physical stress while the bodies are still growing that leads to some of the many physical problems on the tour as most guys are not strong enought to start as early as the women.

As to mummys = Ms. Bammer, I believe, her spouse, who is an engineer, has taken time away from work to help with her effort to play = so when it comes to children - someone - spouse, nanny, someone has to be there for all that is to be done - it is just something else to balance and add to the mix - obviously easier to do prior to school where, excepting a tutor, there is the physical location. Good on her and her husband for going for it.

Posted by Raptor 660 05/08/2007 at 09:21 AM

Peter, since when dyou start aiming at people just like that. everyone agrees her farewell-tour got a little out of hand but you got us thinking whether you know anything about tennis besides the rules of the game. you talked trash about her game being so sad. Think this, I've never seen any defensive baseline-gaming like Clijsters', on the offensive side I think she did pretty well too... don't forget she killed at least once or more all active icons on tour!!! so please stop pretending as if the woman can't play tennis, she'll beat you even blindfolded!!!

Posted by Todd and in Charge 05/08/2007 at 09:30 AM

Hey Pete, the only thing missing from this post is "Go Justine!" at the end. So much for your wedding invitation...

Can anyone dispute the way she has handled her retirement is bungled, immature, selfish, and bone-headed stupid? Also disrespectful in a sense to the sport, which may be driving some of the animus.

But I see a 23 year-old young woman who is making a decision that she may come to regret -- ostensibly "for love" -- not exactly something that out of the ordinary when you think of it.

And I completely disagree regarding her and her career. I was always excited to watch her play, I loved the athleticism and clean, deep strokes. I found her quiet power sexy and appealing.

"One hit wonder"? Let's see -- almost 15 million in prize earnings, number one in singles and doubles, grand slam at the US Open, wins over all the best players of her time, a deep field that included the Williams sisters, Hingis, Shrieky, Henin, etc.

As to the lack of killer instinct, I personally think this was a bit of a cliche. It's obvious that her post-match comments (the "niceness" factor, juvenile talk of her boyfriend, kids, cooking etc.) affected the way some interpreted her on-court behavior. Yet as recently as this year, in Australia, she came back to beat the latest sensation, Jankovic, in a thrilling match that anyone watching can see was filled with the drive, determination, and grit of a champion.

For all her talk of Betty Crocker, rainbows, puppies, and love everlasting, there was nothing "nice" about the way she came back and won that match. I will miss her and wish her well.

Posted by pot of gold 05/08/2007 at 09:49 AM

Pete - this is way to harsh you should have at least balanced this piece by extending afew compliments on her achievements the wta has not been happy ground for the last decade for me i could never stand kim or venus and serena, all 3 of them played with such a lack of grace and it was awful to watch them play but any player who wins a grand slam and becomes no.1 deserves a little more respect when they hang up their racquet even kim.

Finally - Lots of people search for something different in their life in their mid 20s i have written a piece on it and had it printed a Psychology journal(i will search for a link for you,you might like it).When i left university like many others the ideal job the ideal partner and ideal life was not waiting for me as i had anticipated, and it is at that stage in your life 23 - 27 that the feeling of invincibility that over inflated confidence and courage that all teenagers feel kind of gets knoccked out of you and many people asses their lives and adjust's their gaols.
She is a young successful woman moving on with her life cut her some slack.

Posted by James 05/08/2007 at 09:50 AM

I do think the public in general does discriminate against female athletes with the lesbian label. Its the reason Sharapova is so popular because in the white world having blonde hair, being tall and being a tennis player seems to mean you are popular. But I don't think Kim is getting married to buck a stereotype or anything.

Posted by Samantha 05/08/2007 at 11:02 AM

I think you can play great tennis, be married and even have kids. Guys remember Kim could still have a great comeback, she's only 23. Also, to me being a tennis player would be the coolest thing in the world. Go Justine!

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 11:16 AM

ptenisnet: feminism is about choice. However, the way she *chose* to do it hurt women tennis players. She was so incredibly unprofessional about it and immature that it brings up discussion about the tour on the whole.
Had Kim stuck to her original commitment, people would have been fine. But, no, she's had to bail on tournament after tournament of her so-called final "full" season.
Women have worked hard to get respect and her comes Kimmy.
BJK probably wants to strangle her by now...

Posted by Curt 05/08/2007 at 11:20 AM

First I'd like to start by mentioning this is the, I can't count them anymore, millionth article by Mr.Bodo which basically has nothing to do with it's subject... Instead of bringing some interesting topics our dear friend chose to get even by putting his personal vendetta on line...

Honestly: We know all Kim's decision to retire came all of a sudden, but some facts just can't be ignored. We are definitely talking of a true champ, a champ that might even irritate our eyes by every now & then spoiling some talent which other girls would've known what to do with, but then again who are we to judge..

Why do you think the woman repeatedly talked about the family-life, dogs, kids, cooking, generally life after tennis................. tell me now, why did she do that...???

Right, because she too never expected to rise to the top and immediately knew if she could give so much to such a small nation these people automatically would want her to go on till she had given every last ounce on the court... Well that's just what she didn't want, she knew form the start it wouldn't last as long as some had hoped... which is why she decided to put things to an end!!!

And for that reason, yes just this one reason, being able to put a nation's hope on the second place and to ignore the pressure caused by the media and to go on with your personal decisions she deserves a giant leap of respect!!!!

why don't you consider this for a moment Mr.Bodo..
and please do me a favor, next time you decide to write such columns, at least make sure your text is enjoyable to read....

Posted by temes 05/08/2007 at 11:20 AM

May I point out that what Pete wrote here is just a single persons opinion. I for one always found Clijsters to be one of the most exciting players to watch. She had really fantastic shots.

Posted by Nelson 05/08/2007 at 11:25 AM

I am not a frequent poster, but in this issue I can't bite my tongue.

I agree with those who have said that the true value of feminism is having achieved the right to choose, so "hard core" feminists who don't agree with Kim's decision should remember this is the free choice of a woman, you can disagree with her but also you need to respect her right to choose, just as you demand yours.

I respect Pete's position, but can't agree with someone, a professional commenter, journalist, or even her own mother, to think they have the right to criticize people in public this harshly to make a living out of it. It is no different from paparazzi, whom I despise.

That, of course, explains why the disdain for people who think being nice is important. It is so american! your heroes need to be ... what do you call it? ... badasses? or should I say you idolize a..les?.

A culture constructed, of course, of minimizing the intrinsic value of good and maximizing the the value of low ethics in people just because it yields "results" and those are all that matters, right?

I can see why people is feeling let down by Kim's way to fade away, I also think she could have handled it better. But as time and feelings are moving dimensions, anyone has the right to change their mind at any time they feel like.

The Sabatini comparison is interesting !!

Posted by temes 05/08/2007 at 11:28 AM

I also do not understand why Pete has such strong, negative words for Kim...sounds like controversy for the sake of controversy...boooring.

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 11:36 AM

There are perfectly good explanations for Kim blowing off tournies that dont involve feminism (or slaps in the face of). Surely, she is not the only one pulling out of tournaments?
You are right, she could have handled this a lot better. She could have handled it a lot worse too.
It occurs to me that her curtailing her season might have been a reaction to the feedback that she is getting for her farewell season.

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 12:13 PM


It maybe irritating that Kimmie retired early or possibly did not fulfil her potential or for that matter gave all the wrong reasons, but on the contrary she was injury prone and according to her it was becoming difficult to put her body through the rigors of rehab just to train and play again.

There is no need to harp on femisinsm here.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 12:17 PM

No, she's not the only one bailing out on tournaments. But the way she did this brings to light the tour on the whole and the way that so many of the top women aren't taking the tour seriously.
She was a pro but she handled things like a spoiled brat.

Now, have we also forgotten that Margaret Court was married, had children and played tennis at a time when women didn't get a dollar much less millions (choose your currency). And, Margaret has the highest number of slams than any man or woman.

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 12:20 PM

Good post Rosangel

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 12:21 PM

Suresh: feminism is the reason why Kimmy was able to earn the millions that she earned.
She needs to send BJK, Gladys Heldman and the other women a big thank you for being able to retire with millions to stay home and raise her babies.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 12:25 PM

Kim is the height of unprofessionalism. She chose to be unprofessional and now nonprofessional. Being a nonprofessional doesn't hurt the tour but being unprofessional in the way that she left the tour did erode what little credibility the women's game had left.
Whoever said it, got it right: Kimmy makes Justine look fabulous.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 12:25 PM

Kim is the height of unprofessionalism. She chose to be unprofessional and now nonprofessional. Being a nonprofessional doesn't hurt the tour but being unprofessional in the way that she left the tour did erode what little credibility the women's game had left.
Whoever said it, got it right: Kimmy makes Justine look fabulous.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 12:28 PM

I don't think the concept of feminism generally applies here. Kim was competing on the WTA tour with and against women. At no time in her career was a comparison to a man ever relevant. To the extent that the tournaments Kim played on the WTA tour offered less money, the WTA tour also had less depth, so it would not be surprising if Kim's career WTA prize money exceeded the career prize money of a similarly situated ATP player.

The question is, does this event illustrate anything about the differences between how men and women view the tour, and if so, should any action be taken?

I think Rosangel's post was one of the best at adressing the issue.

And throughout the thread you get a feeling that indeed, the WTA tour is not as attractive to the players as it could be.

I suppose we would need an actual player's opinion on this, but what would be an acceptable level of travel?

For the chica's out there, have you or did you ever turn down a job in your 20's because it was too much social isolation?

If so, what would you change about the WTA tour?

Posted by nadiafan 05/08/2007 at 12:29 PM

I agree with Rosangel post 05/08/2007 @ 8:57 AM .I read many interviews of jankovic and ivanovic (these two are blunt honest)and they admit that there are no real friedships on Wta tour.When your day consist of training,eating,resting and with all that you return in room where nobody is waiting for you ,that little sad.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 12:34 PM

Feminism is applicable here because she was a "face" of the tour and the way she handled things was simply unprofessional. What people read and think about her affect the other women, other pros may have that to bear as we talk about depth in the game.
Female players who do not treat the game with the level of professionalism that the name "pro" implies affects the credibility of it.
It's easy for a man to say that feminism isn't applicable here.
I'm not a pro tour but as a woman, the way the bailed is embarassing and shameful.

If she wants to get married and spawn, that's fine. She told us that two years ago. But she needed to fulfull the obligations of the tour. It's disgusting to see her in the rankings when there are other women who are working hard to get the spot that she abandoned.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 12:44 PM

Look, Kim's not the only unprofessional on the tour. How often have we seen Serena or Maria "injured" with a groin or hamstring injury but yet during the same tournaments that they've pulled out of, they're seen on party red carpets wearing 3-4 inch high heels?

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 12:47 PM


Its hardly a question of whether its "easy to say" -- as I don't see any men on the WTA tour, how is Clistjer's career choices in a field which consists 100% of other women a "feminist" issue?

Men and women are entitled to be different. But in most cases, where men and women are doing the same job, you can't leave it at that, not with the history of discrimination that is out there.

But Clistjers has never been discriminated against in her tennis career. Not once.

(Am a setting a new record, by the way, for misspelling Clistjers in one thread?)

If the women playes on the WTA tour don't find the tour compelling, it seems to me they ought to change the tour to make it more compelling.

Its their tour. The WTA players don't have to worry about what the ATP will think about any of this.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 05/08/2007 at 12:48 PM

Dm, while feminism may not strictly be at play here, notions of the proper role of women in the workplace, the competing demands on women in sports, and how their choices are viewed, most certainly is.

And what a stark example! Kim has used words that embrace the "traditional" notion of the proper feminine role of women -- she says she wants to be happily married, wants children, wants to cook, garden, and stay at home. She is also criticized for being too "nice" (traditionally a feminine trait) and not having a killer instinct in the sports workplace (traditionally a male trait).

Listen, I don't agree with any of the above, but it sets up the fault lines for an interesting discussion when you have a female star hanging up a $15 million career in order to be married and have children, and folks criticizing her for not being able to "cowboy" up and fight like a man (I'm paraphrasing the last part).

Posted by MrsSanta 05/08/2007 at 12:49 PM

The lack of depth and lack of attractiveness of the WTA to women should not come as a surprise. Again they are pretty much the same issues that affect say partners in law firms. Beyond the money, the social benefits of being a male athlete are out of this world compared to women. There is no extensive support for a female professional athlete. I'm not talking about endorsements a la Masha. I'm talking about social structures, perceived attractiveness, love life and potential fall back positions should the superstar athlete thing not work out. A journey woman has very little chance of being a coach, commentator, tennis writer etc after retiring. And we all know there is no women's senior tour for has beens to pick up extra cash. A female tennis player of any kind it seems has no chance of having a significant other willing to travel with them during their peak years. In addition the most important thing even in the premier women's sport is still being cute. Little wonder that most women look at this and decide that oh going to college and getting an economics degree is a better idea.

Behaving as if the collective decisions of women are some baffling mystery is odd. They are rational actors presented with a set of screwy options and they opt to do something else.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 12:58 PM

Maybe this discussion is suffering from the fact that equality in the workplace is relatively new as compared to other social structures.

But I'll tell you this much, in my capacity as a former player and a former big firm lawyer involved in hiring young associates.

If women don't think that having "ex-WTA tour player" on thier resume would be place them ahead of every other woman and, for that matter, every other man in competition for a law firm job, all other things being somewhat close to equal, that is, they have no clue.


But, Ms.Santa raises a point, considering that this is not some law firm, BUT THE WTA TOUR -- AN ORGANIZATION RUN SOLELY FOR THE BENEFIT OF WOMEN PLAYERS what should be changed?

For example, if the "boyfriends are not travelling enough" is a real issue, what would an acceptable schedule look like?

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 01:01 PM

Lisa, I don't think feminism need to be brought up as an issue here.

What should Kim have done ? To send thank you notes to Billie Jean and played out the tour as her fans deemed it appropriate?

On the other hand, is it not possible that Kim has had enough of the tour and wanted to call it quits. She is talented in tennis, probably not in showmanship ( or should I say 'showwomanship' - maybe the English language has a gender bias too!)

How did Borg retire ?

Yes, as a fan it is irritating to see Kim retire and probably not achieve her potential, but then again is it fair to say that she did not live up to the expectation of fans who expected something more from her?

Probably the price celebrity has to pay.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:04 PM

DM: it is absolutely easy to say that feminism isn't an issue here when you're not a woman. Many women were against the feminist movement and still are. In many respects feminism is the true "F" bomb.
How she has retired--the manner of doing it--NOT that she's doing it-- set back the tour financially and in the minds of people. We're discussing lack of commitment of women--i.e, weakness on their part. Tournament directors will lose money without a marquee player in Kimmy.
You don't have to be a man to discriminate against a woman.
I'm a housewife (not a homemaker) saying this. And, there is a difference. I don't do housework or clean but I don't have a traditional job anymore, so I am a housewife. I spend much of my time playing tennis or doing charity work and occasionally write or cover stories.
But whether I work or not, I'm an advocate for women and girls.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:09 PM

Borg didn't say, this is going to be my last year and I'm going to play a full season and concentrate my efforts on it and then poof! quits.

She made a verbal agreement with her fans and perhaps a written agreement (I don't know how that works) with the tour to play the full season.

Again, if you're not an advocate for women and girls, you don't see the repercussions to the feminist movement with this.

Do you realize that in the US, that the Equal Rights Amendment was not even passed? 15 states--including the state that I live in---didn't ratify it. In some areas of the law, women are still lessers.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 01:15 PM

I think you are off by a degree, Lisa.

Its not "weakness" on Kim's part or on the part of WTA players in general. They are free to play as often or as little as they want. I don't believe for a second that Kim has any responsiblity whatsoever to "the tour" -- all those sponsors are getting plenty for their money. Similarly, Federer has no general responsibility to "the tour" neither does Nadal.

Players have responsibility to themselves, because no other person or entity on either tour is looking out for them. No one.

"Sponsors" are not putting up millions of dollars as a form of charity for the players. The nano-second that they do not think they are getting full advertising value those dollars will be gone.

As far as I know, Kim played within the rules of the tour until she just retired.

Posted by MrsSanta 05/08/2007 at 01:15 PM

DM nothing. The WTA cannot create some isolated utopia that somehow mitigates the less than ideal options women face in negotiating a tennis career. In fact I think the WTA is just fine as it is and what needs to change is the mentality that a male Mirka is absurd, that female athletes need to be cute and babies still have to be incubated in female bodies and born as opposed to being ordered from Nordstrom’s.

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 01:17 PM

Not to put too fine a point on it, but even buying into a concept of a "Battle of the Sexes" can be considered an insult to feminism.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:20 PM

DM: isn't there a minimum number of tournaments that players have to play in, excluding the slams? To me, that means "obligation."

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:22 PM

ptenisnet: I absolutely agree that Battle of the Sexes was an insult. What accomplishment is there for a 20-something woman to beat a 50-something year old man?

Posted by Maplesugar 05/08/2007 at 01:23 PM

Pete, I am really surprised at your taking aim at Kim that way. You usually temper your remarks, but not today. Even if all were true, it wasn't very NICE.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 01:24 PM


Are you kidding? If that is the case, why in the world should Title IX be in existence? So that hundreds and thousands of women can be allowed to play collegiate sports that are so "less than ideal" to them that given the opportunity to play those sports for a living they find it barely tolerable?

While at the same time mens sports (including, by the way, at least 50 NCAA division one men's tennis teams) are cut?

That can't possibly be the answer. It leads down a very, very bad road.

Posted by steggy 05/08/2007 at 01:25 PM

ptenisnet: The BOTS itself wasn't the insult. The insult was that they paired her up against Riggs. They should've made her play a contemporary/equal, despite the immense probability of losing.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:30 PM

DM: I do think the tour should be changed and women should be held accountable for bailing. Several women get exponentially more sponsorship money for their tennis prowess than many men do, yet their diva-ness thinks they are above everyone else, including the rules of the tour. It's a shame because they are flaunting it and that's a case where they are poor role models (rambling still because I haven't had my day's tea).

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:31 PM

Steggy: thanks for making clear what I rambled on about.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 01:33 PM

I'm rambling as well, but, to change the direction, should the WTAs' committment be four tournaments only?

Let all the top playes, if they wish, hang out all year long and get together for the Slams only? Plenty of time for boyfriends, husbands or kids, or whatever?

Should the WTA try to condense the tour into a short period? Start with the French and finish, pretty much with the US Open?

If its not an attractive life at the moment, what would make it attractive?

It can't be the fault of men that the WTA tour is not attractive to women players.

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 01:36 PM

But Steggs/Lisa
I agree about the age disparity, But
Why was the BOTS even necessary? If you are the average feminist, who are you seeking validation from? Men? What's the value in that?

Posted by MrsSanta 05/08/2007 at 01:38 PM

DM ameliorating the conditions on the WTA to make it more attractive and Title IX are somewhat different. One is about providing opportunity no matter how flawed, which I’m all in favor of. The other is trying to figure out a way to make the provided opportunity as attractive and meaningful as possible. To you the issue with the WTA is isolated to professional sports. To me they are merely a reflection of the issues facing women in general which will come up irrespective of the organization. Your contention is that the WTA can somehow make changes to fix the situation of professional female athletes. My contention is that society needs to fix its screwed up standards vis a vis women so that the WTA does not have to do anything at all. Same results different methods. I just have a preference for the scorched earth approach to everything.

Posted by tlis 05/08/2007 at 01:39 PM

"Its not "weakness" on Kim's part or on the part of WTA players in general. They are free to play as often or as little as they want."

Technically, DM, that's true. But I think one has to consider the practical impact on the game. Yes, the individual women on the tour are free to play as often or as little as they want, but their choices have a direct impact on the whole of women's tennis.

The manner in which Kim retired--to me--reinforced too many negative stereotypes. I'm not even referring to wanting to get married and have kids, rather, the notion that women are fickle, passive, and can't buckle down to "take" the intensity and competition, etc. And these concepts still permeate a lot of society, be it in the realm of sports or elsewhere.

Posted by steggy 05/08/2007 at 01:46 PM

ptenis: No idea. I don't understand feminism, or feminists and their reasonings. To make a wild guess based on the era, on the surface it was simply a highly-promoted event which, from the women's point of view, wanted to say "We want to prove/believe that the sexes are equal."

Didn't work, considering that there had to be a winner, thus throwing the whole "equality of the sexes" issue out the kitchen window.

So, it became a cheeseball note in the history of tennis. BJK, the most unfeminine feminist that tennis has ever seen, went up against ageing blowhard Riggs, and proved to the world that the sexes aren't equal after all, as they play on an unequal playing field.

Proof's in the pudding, as they say. *shrug*

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 01:47 PM

Look, anyone, including Pete, who would try to imply that Kim Clisjters has no "intensity" is taking the definition of the word "intensity" to such a relative term (vis a vis other chamption tennis players) that it has no meaning to me.

Clistjers has more intensity in her pinkie finger than 99%+ percent of the rest of the world has in their entire bodies at the moment, or will have their entire lives.

To put the question in a sentence, the Borg retirement is an anomaly. Why is the Clisjters retirement dangerously close to a trend? And, if it is a trend, what can be done about it?

Walking around Indian Wells I'm simply hard pressed to see what the issue is with making a living playing that tournament. Its hardly a garment-district sweat shop or boiler room phone sales place.

Posted by derek 05/08/2007 at 01:48 PM

For the folks boo hooing about how bad these poor things have it on tour, well , give your heads a shake. The guys don't have constant hand holding either, and they start just as young, and suffer from loneliness too. But they're female so they must be victims 24/7. *rollseyes*

The ever annoying Kimmy probably doesn't know what the word feminism means so dragging that into the debate is ridiculous. The chick doesn't want to play anymore--period the end.Borg felt the same way at 25. Clijsters is a daddies girl through and through, and i think tennis was always temporary thing for her. I actually feel sorry for her future husband!

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 01:49 PM

And, at the moment, arguments that somehow the WTA tour is not getting enough respect from society does not strike me as a credible argument.

Posted by Pete 05/08/2007 at 01:49 PM

Thanks for the great comments, everyone. Here's one for you: does Champagne Kimmy belong in the International Tennis Hall of Fame? My own baseline as been at least two majors, but Kimmy is no One-Slam wonder on the model of, oh, Eva Majoli. I guess if Sabatini is in, Clijsters certainly ought to be, and I will vote for her. But the question that keeps popping up in my mind is how could a player who achieved so much (TaiC listed her stats)end up with just one Slam. It's almost surreal.

Posted by MrsSanta 05/08/2007 at 01:54 PM

“To put the question in a sentence, the Borg retirement is an anomaly. Why is the Clisjters retirement dangerously close to a trend? And, if it is a trend, what can be done about it?”

That’s the issue with non dominant vs. dominant groups. Dominant groups are allowed individual idiosyncrasies. Borg’s retirement was a freak occurrence because Borg’s a dude and it has been established beyond any doubt at all that dudes like competition. Kim’s retirement is a reflection on all women who we have always been to thought lack competitive fire and this just proves it.

Completely fallacious but there you go.

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 01:55 PM

Lisa, this is a tennis forum - and yes, I get your point, but it does not seem to be the issue here.

Yes, Borg did not say that he will quit, but he walked off after his last match - this IMO is not professionalism.

One does not have to look through 'feminist glasses' and attribute maybe in part the reason as to why Kim's quitting this way is bad.

Would it be correct to say that perhaps you are not holding Kim as the epitome of feminism perhaps?

Kim can be accused of flattering to decieve - in that she announce this will be her last year, and then she called it quits in a lame manner, depriving fans of 'something', of being a 'kill joy' perhaps. Or for building expectation, only to retire with a whimper.

At the same time, how would someone know if he/she is not a top athlete what it entails to bear the grind of the tour? Like Kim said she had to get fit (read go thru' rehab) just to be able to train effectively.

I am disappointed in the way Kim retired though .

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 01:57 PM

ptenis: the whole BOTS was a gimmick. Riggs, though an incredible tennis player in his time, was a latter years showman and I think he liked the dough.

Posted by Samantha 05/08/2007 at 01:58 PM

I don't think feminism has anything to do with it. You have girls who are barely out of their teens making millions and traveling the world. Most girls would die for this, beats working at Mickey D, doesn't it? You can have both tennis and a relationship, Justine did for years. And Hingis has dated half the ATP, she has no trouble finding a man. For Kim, Marriage wasn't the only reason for her retirement, she has said she didn't enjoy the tennis lifestyle constant travel, training and the lies the press told about her, marriage is just one part of it. To me feminism is the right to choose and that is what Kim has done. Go Justine!

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 05/08/2007 at 02:01 PM


Riding over the hill to save the day and set us all straight.

You know, that is a very straightforwad way of looking at it.

Posted by Samantha 05/08/2007 at 02:02 PM

Kim has definetly earned the right to be in THF, I mean if Pam S can get in and Sabatini then whyn't Kimmie C.

Posted by steggy 05/08/2007 at 02:04 PM

Pete: I'm sure there are many who would say yes to Sabatini while saying no to Clijsters, for one reason only: notoriety and glamour quotient. Sabatini had and dealt with both in spades, while Clijsters actively spurned both and chose to project a Snow White (as opposed to Sexpot) image.

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 02:06 PM

On a slightly different note - maybe it falls outside the purview of this particular topic, but since a post commented on the lack of respect the WTA tour gets from society, does anyone wonder as to why the year ending championships for women ( was it in Los Angeles) drew a small crowd? Can this be remedied?

The Men's year ending championships on the other hand held in Houston did very well as far as drawing a large number of spectators was concerned.

Maybe this deserves a separate post....

Posted by steggy 05/08/2007 at 02:11 PM

Suresh: The men's YEC hasn't been held in Houston for awhile -- for the past few years, it's been in Shanghai. No doubt it'll be moved again.

As for why, well, I've heard that parking was an issue, tickets weren't cheap, players dropped out, and the event was not promoted enough. In fact, pretty much every excuse in the book other than "The WTA is now a tennis niche slightly more popular than men's doubles."

Posted by Andrew Miller 05/08/2007 at 02:13 PM

I admit I do not like watching Clijsters play - it's not the most artistic or clever game out there. But I have to admit: she was excellent at playing tennis. The thing about it is that she does not like the sport, and decided not to keep doing something she does not like. In terms of her as a player, I think she held up pretty admirably until her 2006-2007 seasons, which were more or less "a few highlights mixed in with lots of injuries and not very inspired playing." She is likely the second best player in Belgian history, and there does not seem to be any player she has not beaten over her career. She has been 4-0 in her last four against Hingis; was 4-0 vs. Sharapova before 2006-2007 (where she dropped 3 straight); is 10-12 vs. Henin (sort of like the Agassi-Sampras matchup - losing at most of the big-time events); she has a win against the "Federer" of women's tennis, going down 1-7 in head to head against the less "nice" player Serena Williams; 4-6 in head to head matchups vs. Venus Williams; and 8-7 vs. Mauresmo, going down 0-5 in the last 5 matchups (since year end 2005, which is basically when Clijsters started playing not quite as well as her pinnacle, US OPEN championship); 3-3 against the former champ Capriati (going 3-0 in their final 3 matchups). So, I cant argue against her results, no matter how much I dont like her playing style and how much I cant stand her believing that she wont miss her tennis part of her identity, and how much she left at the table by retiring at 23 years old, or even recognizing, that outside of her, her professional life is pretty special, despite how ordinary it may seem to her. She was a cut above, as a player, anyone outside of the top 5 women in the world since 2001. I could never understand why Hingis could not put away Clijsters since coming back from retirement, but I have to settle with this fact: Clijsters is just better right now, and her being better represents how much the women's game has changed since the days of Hingis' torturing other top players, and also shows what an athletic scrapper can do. Her game bores me to tears, but she wins, and her record (427-104 in 10 years on title, one lap at the #1 spot on the world rankings) speaks for itself. She is the Canas of women's tennis in terms of her playing style. Probably what isnt likeable about her is that she doesnt want more. And hey, if she doesnt want more out of her professional tennis days and doesnt really care about it, so be it. It is her choice, and her record is nothing to look back on and say: "I am a choker of a player." The cold facts stand out: she got to the finals of 75% of the majors, her record is outstanding, who cares what I think of her exit.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 02:13 PM

Suresh: the YEC was sold out in Madrid. And, they did use Staples Center in LA, which has a far larger capacity than the arena in Houston, which only seats about 5,000.

Posted by derek 05/08/2007 at 02:15 PM

~"most of the men do not turn pro until their late teens".~

Not true. Not all of the girls start at 14, and many of the guys, especially europeans, start in their mid Gasquet.

Posted by Sam 05/08/2007 at 02:15 PM

Pete: Are there actual Hall of Fame criteria in terms of Slams won, etc., or is it just something that is fluid? I would imagine that some players got in for impact to the game more than their raw numbers. My own feeling is that when most people look back on a HOFers career, they should have the feeling that "Player X was great". To me, the HOF should be for great as opposed to very good players.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 02:19 PM

although I'm irritated by Kimmy, I guess if Sabatini gets in, perhaps Kim should---on the second ballot.

Posted by Andrew Miller 05/08/2007 at 02:22 PM

"Posted by Pete 05/08/2007 @ 1:49 PM

Thanks for the great comments, everyone. Here's one for you: does Champagne Kimmy belong in the International Tennis Hall of Fame? My own baseline as been at least two majors, but Kimmy is no One-Slam wonder on the model of, oh, Eva Majoli. I guess if Sabatini is in, Clijsters certainly ought to be, and I will vote for her. But the question that keeps popping up in my mind is how could a player who achieved so much (TaiC listed her stats)end up with just one Slam. It's almost surreal. "

My thought here: she's in. Sabatini went 632-189 and played only 1 more year as a professional, with something like 7 fewer titles. My answer to that - only one slam - would be as follows: Marcelo Rios. The guy teased other players, his one slam was stolen from him, and he just didnt get the job done. Ditto for Clijsters - she just didnt do it; she certainly put herself in position to do it, and didnt. I think her loss to Capriati in 2001 suggested that she was 100% capable of winning the titles, but somehow just didnt finish the job until it was her last best chance. So goes it.

Posted by Anna 05/08/2007 at 02:28 PM

I do not agree with the comments on Clijsters. She was a great athlete and in the early 2000s she was an excellent player. She used to have net play along with her baseline athelticism. Unfortunately she never had the heart. Being 5-1 up in the 3d against Serena at he AO during Serena's super dominance or beating her at the season ending chamionships talks about her skill. Losing to Serena during that same AO says it all about her mind. In terms of tennis, I believe she should have won another couple of slams. If anything, she used to be a superior player to the likes of Sharapova or Mary Pierce, who have 2. But she was the immature little girl with the amazing talent, who was just doing what everybody was expecting her to do. Once she reached her team's goal (the 2005 US open), she had no tennis goals left. She fired her coach, and from that moment on her tennis became boring. She started just chasing the ball, and she was still able to make it to the last stages of slams because of her athleticism.

Posted by Pete 05/08/2007 at 02:29 PM

Sam - there is no hard formula; those who get voted in, get voted in. I believe the ITHF should have a few baseline requirements (2+slams would be a start) and agree wholeheartedly that the Hall should be for the great. But you know, they're in institution like any other, always looking for a way to grow and improve, and to some degree the Hall is very attracted by the attention and exposure it gets by inducting "name" players (Agassi, Sampras, Graf etc.) year-after-year. Fine lines all around!

Posted by Samantha 05/08/2007 at 02:30 PM

Thanks DM, Did anyone consider that Kim has probably been playing tennis since she could pick up a racket and is probably just burned out and will return like Hingis and other have done. Look at Sampras, he's back playing in the senior tour. Sometimes we have to lose something to know how valuable it was. I remember Sampras on TTC talking about how bored he was without tennis. Kim will be remember as one of the best of the Belgium players. The rivalry between Kim and Justine is something I've enjoyed and I hope she's like Sampras and will return. I hope she get in on the first ballot. Go Justine!

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 02:31 PM

1. If Sabatini is a Hall of Famer, then Kim probably would make it too based on her achievements. Both won one major. Kim has 34 titles, Sabatini has 27. Kim held the number one ranking for 19 weeks ( someone correct me if I am wrong ), whereas Sabatini was never ranked number one.

Based on accomplishments, Kim is slightly ahead of Sabatini, but not in terms of longevity - Kim will be remembered for calling it quits!

...and of course, Gaby had the 'x-factor' going for her thanks to her looks.

2. As far as Kim not winning more majors is concerned, I felt that she was short in mental toughness. Again, I am speaking in relative terms. When considering the Williams sisters, Justin, Sharapova etc. Kim seemed to be a little short in that department.

That is one of the reasons why the majors separate the 'great champions' from the 'slightly less great ones'. Mauresmo was able to shake off the tag of 'perennial choker'. I guess some can and some cannot.

On the men's side players like Ljubicic, Rios, Blake seem to be afflicted with this disease.

Posted by JAG 05/08/2007 at 02:32 PM

Pete - I remember you writing a long time ago an incident you happened to witness, kimmy coming back to hotel/locker room with a bunch of shopping bags and a sandwich she picked out for
Hewitt, and how you felt she had an innate need to be a "mother". Maybe what you felt that day was truer than you imagined. :)

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 02:33 PM

Should entry into the hall of fame be based solely on tour records?
There should be more to it than that no?

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 02:36 PM

Steggy, I know the YEC has moved to Shanghai, I was pointing out to the discrepancy in attendance between the YEC for men and women when they were held in the U.S. - could be because of the reasons you stated.

Thanks Lisa.

Posted by Pete 05/08/2007 at 02:36 PM

Anna, I don't entirely agree with your analysis, but you make an excellent point re. Clijsters coach, and one of the reasons I feel justified in being a contrarian when it comes to Kimmy (it isn't a calculated position; it's my gut feeling) is that she has a lot of these really iffy situations - the weird way she parted with her coach and denied it was about money, the whole thing about Justine being a doper, the "miracle cure" of her "career threatening" injury. . . A lot of that stuff is just real dicey, and doesn't seem to jive with her persona. Few of the other players known for being "nice" had those kinds of problems and issues (but remind me if I'm wrong; I'm open to it). Bottom line is that hers was a downright strange career - marked by a few puzzling incidents.

Posted by Sam 05/08/2007 at 02:41 PM

Thanks Pete. I suspected that there was no hard formula. Totally agree about having some baseline requirements. Agree with your last point, which probably applies to the HOFs in other sports.

"That is one of the reasons why the majors separate the 'great champions' from the 'slightly less great ones'. "

Exactly, Suresh. Based on the precedent set by Sabatini's induction, Kim should get in.

Posted by Sam 05/08/2007 at 02:45 PM

Pete: I though the doping accusations against Justine (after the 2003 USO, I believe) were leveled by Leo Clijsters rather than Kim?

Posted by cyandream 05/08/2007 at 02:47 PM

According to the IHOF's website eligibility is :

A distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character

Despite possible poor judgement in ending her career, something I think she mentally did when she stop using a coach, I for one don't question Kim's integrity, sportsmanship and character. She's won the WTA and ITF sportsmanship honors repeatedly. Those awards alone should buffer the 2nd half of the criteria.
So that leaves the first half. What constitutes a distinguished level, and who is it measured against - past HOFers or one's peers?
And don't Kim's SF/and Final appearance count for something? Plus, she was on the winning Fed Cup team in 2001.
And I think being Belgium's first # 1 gives her bonus points as well as the fact she held the # 1 in singles and doubles at the same time.

One thing though, to consider, is at this point she'll make first ballot about the same time Lindsay does I believe. If given a choice between voting in Lindsay or Kim, I'd say Lindsay would win hands down.

Posted by Samantha 05/08/2007 at 02:49 PM

Pete, I agree with some of the things you wrote about Kim's image of being nice not squaring with some of the incidences in her career, but nobody is perfect and yes she made mistake, but that is part of being young, and forgiving those mistakes and giving her the respect she has earned and her place in tennis history is only fair. Go Justine!

Posted by Ray Stonada 05/08/2007 at 02:51 PM

It's funny how throwing the word feminism out there tends to cause a bit of a stir. If there is a feminist component to this issue, it has nothing to do with Clijsters choice to retire. Anyone who doesn't enjoy the lifestyle, would rather do somthing else, or has made as much money as they want, should retire, of course.

NFL running backs, whose shred their knees playing, do this all the time: Robert Smith of the Vikings a few years back, Tiki Barber just this year. If being a professional athlete is making you unhappy or unhealthy, why do it? This is not an issue of sexual politics.

Rather, what annoyed me about Clijsters is the thing Pete first made clear to me: the fact that she consistently plays up her niceness as some kind of compensatory quality to what we can only call her poor record in Slams. She made it to the semifinals of 12 Slams and to the finals of 5, and won 1.

In a way, she is the female David Nalbandian: a talented all-court player who stays near the top but never resides there. And if Nalbie were to call it quits, citing burnout, it would of course be no reason to think something is wrong with the men's tour.

But Nalbie never vocally announced that he was looking forward to quitting soon and how much he enjoys other things (though this may be true: rally cars and eating, perhaps).

Kim Clijsters did, and she has tried to play up niceness and desire for a family and her marriage as the reason why. To me, this seems like an affront to tennis, and especially women's tennis, in which a generation of feminists fought to have women's tennis be taken seriously. That was the meaning of the Battle of the Sexes in our larger culture: people generally wondered if women could compete even with a old, out-of-shape hustler like Riggs. And they could.

I have no problem with Clijsters retiring, but she should have shown some respect for: 1) the sport she played and in which she earned fifteen million dollars, and 2) the women who paved the way for this opportunity, which after is by far the best-paid and most-watched and most-respected women's sport. She should have just... retired, without trying to paint tennis as the villain for keeping her from her precious home life. That, to me, is how feminism comes in to this argument.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 05/08/2007 at 03:01 PM

I'm with Wertheim when it comes to the HOF, erring on the less rigorous side. The institution is there to help promote the sport. So while many did not like Kimmy, it's clear she also has millions of devoted fans. To these people, she must be doing something they like and admire.

Pete made an interesting observation: "But the question that keeps popping up in my mind is how could a player who achieved so much end up with just one Slam. It's almost surreal."

Humm, I'm thinking of a player, big serve, nice corn-fed Nebraskan.....parted on odd terms with his coach....

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 03:07 PM

It's not like she was making a sweeping statement about every player on the WTA tour when she spoke about tennis getting in the way of home life. You can't take it as an affront to feminism that SHE wanted to follow her own path.
Nobody would've cared about her retirement had she not made it to 12 slam semis, 5 slam finals and won one. We wouldn't be discussing this if it was about say Emma Laine or Emile Loit. That bit at least has nothing to do with whatever pioneers paved the way for her.

Posted by Andrew Miller 05/08/2007 at 03:12 PM

"Sabatini: Began 1985, Retired 1996"

"Clijsters: Began 1997, Retired 2007"

Sabatini played 1 more year than Clijsters; made 1 few GS final; won 200 more matches. Amazing as it may seem...Clijsters has been on tour for TEN years! In 1998& 1999 she began playing a lot more at the age of...15/16. So...playing one fewer year than Sabatini, and quite fewer matches, with a similar winning percentage, but better overall results, no matter how it's sliced.

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 03:17 PM

The institution is there to help promote the sport

I dont agree that the institution is there to help promote the sport. It exists as a reward for the contribution to and promotion of the sport.

Posted by Andrew Miller 05/08/2007 at 03:19 PM

Here's the difference:

632W-189L Sabatini
427W-104L Clijsters

in a career lasting a little more than 1 year more than Clijsters, and earling only about 60-something % as much as Clijsters.

For fun:
Rios, Marcelo: 10 years on tour, 391W, 192L.
Korda, 410W-248L, 13 years on tour.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 03:19 PM

it has to do with her being a woman of high profile who acted unprofessionally about her commitment to the season that she gave a full pledge to. It's not about her fans.
But her actions compromised the respect of the tour. So, yeah, feminism does come into it. Her actions harm (in the area of perspective)other female players.

E-Z Bake Kim can go home and cook and clean all she wants (I wonder if she'll trade travel for scrubbing toilets), but she needed to commit to the tour.

Many of the voices who say this doesn't affect other women are either men are females are who not advocates for women and girls.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 03:20 PM

Yo Pete: what about Kimmy choosing not the play the Olympics because of her clothing sponsorship. She chose her sponsor over her country.

Posted by Ray Stonada 05/08/2007 at 03:23 PM

ptenis, of course she can do whatever she wants without needing to worry about representing women as a general cateogry. I'm with you there. Here's where I'm not:

If you are blessed with the truly rare athletic talent and mental fortitude to be able to play top-level tennis, but you'd rather retire at 23(!!!!) to get married and maybe raise a family (which you could as easily do in anywhere from five to ten years), um, I personally think you're crazy, but if absurd priorities float your boat, hey.

But thinking that your lack of attachment to the thing you can do that makes be interested in you in the first place is somehow an appealing trait, that you are somehow above the other competitors who are trying to win? Burning out psychologically is one thing, but saying that you'd rather be eating ice cream and watching movies with your boyfriend than be one of the five best people in the world at something, that's just silly and regressive and offensive to your sport and your talent.

Posted by MrsSanta 05/08/2007 at 03:23 PM

The choices of high profile women are a statement on feminism whether or not they want them to be.

Kimmy though belongs in the HOF without a doubt. The Gabby precedent requires it.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 03:25 PM

thank you, Mrs. Santa.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 03:27 PM

There are plenty of married women on the tour so it's not like you have to ditch the the tour when you get married. And, 23 is so young to have a child these days. But even so, you can still be a momma and play. I don't think Margaret Court was any less of a mom because she played tennis.

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 03:34 PM

Lisa, I disagree.

It may have been an issue about feminism if she were competing against men or coerced into making a decision by someone else - I feel none of that happened.

First and foremost, it is Kim's decision, and I may add in jest 'it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind'.

On the contrary, if Kim does feel that her body is not upto handling the rigors of touring, why should she prolong her career just to be seen holding the 'feminism' flag high and clear?

Posted by Sam 05/08/2007 at 03:34 PM

"It exists as a reward for the contribution to and promotion of the sport. "

And the front of their website even says: "Home to the legends of tennis". Sounds like a home for the great to me. It should be an exclusive club.

Posted by Rosangel 05/08/2007 at 03:36 PM

Oh, I thought this entry was closed! I must have been hallucinating!

By the way, is it true that it's not the fault of men that the WTA is not attractive to WTA players? (at least some of them - let's face it, the journeywomen may be the ones who have least going for them).

Larry Scott is a man. Most of the coaches on the WTA tour seem to be men. There are a number of unpleasant 'tennis fathers' around - it's good that Damir Dokic is no longer seen, but what effect did he have on his daughter? Then there's the abusive Jim Pierce and the ever-manipulative Richard Williams. That's just three. And what proportion of the journalists covering the tour are men? Then there are the officials, tournament directors, agents and others involved. Mostly men.

Can't the tour do something about the age at which young women start playing professionally? Can't it do better in protecting young women from unreasonable pressures being put on them by others, whether fathers or other parental figures? And if it really is true that many young women on tour end up having affairs with their coaches - what kind of unhealthy situation is that? And can anything be done about it?

Posted by kiwibee 05/08/2007 at 03:36 PM

I sure hope Kimmie would come back and play.She's only 23 and how many kids does she want? Look at Bammer and few other players, they went away and come back strong. So Kimmie will return to WTA tour when she's 25.

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 03:36 PM

The choices of high profile women are a statement on feminism whether or not they want them to be.

I can't argue this point Mrs Santa, because this is a matter of opinion. I will say this: When it comes to adopting a 23 year old as your role model, caveat emptor.

Posted by Suresh 05/08/2007 at 03:37 PM

Agreed, Ray, if Kim is offering those reasons, it probably does not do justice to her talent and potential.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 03:38 PM

It's scary of the thought that Kim's word is her bond. Eeek, hope her word in her marriage is better than that to the WTA, which has min. tournament requirements for its players---and Kimmy didn't meet them.

But, Suresh it looks like we can't agree so I'm not trying to convince you.

Posted by ptenisnet 05/08/2007 at 03:39 PM

It should be an exclusive club.

Exactly Sam. I dont think Clijsters belongs in the Hall of Fame. Especially given that she gave up on it with 5 good years left in her career. I do defend her right to give it up but those are the consequences.

Posted by cyandream 05/08/2007 at 03:53 PM

Okay, I never disagree that Kim making this decision is a blow to feminism. Feminism was never about making women work if they chose not to, but rather giving them the option to do so if they wanted. No one is stopping Kim from working. However, her body and heart apear to be, and that's what's important. Tennis is so much a mental game, and if mentally you don't want to do it, why should you? If she's losing in the first round, how is that satisfactory for her or her fans? I have no problem with Kim retiring from the tour. I also don't think just because she's not playing on the tour, means she's not going to be involved in tennis. Doesn't her sister have an academy? I don't see how making a career change when you are no longer mentally, emotionally and/or physically able to compete at the highest level is bad thing, whether its to become a homemaker or a tennis instructor. To me it would have been more unprofessional for her to have continued trying.

Lisa, you brought up Court. I suspect Margaret and Evonne are exceptions not the rule. I don't think a lot of women are going to have babies and then come back to the top. You are asking women to leave the tour for a year at least. More are going to be like Lindsay Lee Waters and stick to the circuits.

Posted by Lisa 05/08/2007 at 04:16 PM

I agree with 23 year olds as role models are a suspect pick. God knows, I was not anyone's role model at 23 years old. And, athletes are also another category of suspect role models since most are egomaniacs (which makes champions champions).

Posted by Moderator 05/08/2007 at 04:23 PM

Please remain on topic here, folks.

Posted by cyandream 05/08/2007 at 04:25 PM

Oh come on Lisa, when was Kim anything less than committed to the WTA. The only time that Kim didn't meet her commitments was 2004 when she was injured and the end of last year when again she had an injury. I think you are seeing her retire the way she is because she feels she no longer can make that commitment.

Posted by cyandream 05/08/2007 at 04:36 PM

Roseangel, Have you been reading "Ladies of the Court" and if you have what does it say that those issues not only haven't been addressed in all this time but seem to be even more the norm.

I ask this because your thoughts of 3:36 echo some of the things I'm been thinking after reading LotC.

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