What did it all mean? Not much, in the end, I think.
I concur with Slice-n-Dice above that BJKs instincts with respect to increasing the attention given to tennis don't align with mine. I heartily dislike cheering and noise during points, harlequin-shaded courts, no ad scoring, let serves and the like.
If BJK and WTT can get people to pay to watch it, fine. Just let's not call it tennis.
The same really goes for exos in general - if you don't have a chance to attend a major tournament, going to an exo can be great fun - you get to admire the skill and athleticism on display. Just don't mistake it for a competition. And I don't mean to say that the scores are rigged, just that the participants aren't bringing all their powers to bear.
Media events are fine - no one gets hurt, someone deserving gets praised, some people are modestly overcompensated. Worse things have happened at sea.
My one and only experience of tennis in Madison Square Garden was back in the mid-1970s, when I saw Brian Gottfried versus Harold Solomon. Not exactly heavyweights, but not also-rans either. It was akin to watching Davydenko versus Ferrer.
Posted by yello fuzzy
03/04/2009 at 01:15 PM
Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *ReRe hollywood starlet ;-) 10-time grand slam Champion*
03/04/2009 at 01:21 PM
"Being a huge Venus fan, I'd been hoping that Serena would pull one of her famous low starts (sorry avid :))
I had to laugh when Serena was pouring it on in the final, and someone sitting among the mid-section seats where I was shouted, "Serena, that's your sister you're playing." LOL"
Ruth - apology accepted ;-) After she took that tumble, even I was like, hey it's ok, It's just an exo LOL!
And to those who say the matches were scripted and that an All Williams final was in the works, I will have to disagree with you.
For those interested, nice pics of the ladies from the luncheon before the match ;-)
"So on that basis, am I to understand that any person of historical significance should recognize that the value of their contribution to society is measured entirely by how well they're remembered by the great unwashed?"
not really. every person (not just those of historical significance) should understand that people might not like them or care about their accomplishments, and, no matter how big those are, if they keep pushing them on people who are not that interested in a particular domain where you excelled (like tennis) to begin with, they will slowly become resented.
look, i am actually talking from the perspective of billie jean. it's really for her benefit. personally, i am not particularly bothered by it though i am not likely to tune into an event because of her. but if one wants to remain popular (and it seems to me that she does) then one should take into account other people interests and preferences. from what i read here, it seems to me that those preferences were not takne into account.
Posted by Ruth
03/04/2009 at 02:22 PM
avid: There were lots of Ana and JJ fans sitting around me, and I don't think that they would have been unhappy if Ana or JJ made it to the final. Neither would I -- especially if it were Ana? :)
Michael Barkann said that Venus seemed to injure her leg in the final, but she pooh-poohed the idea in the post-match interview, as she always does with injuries. And I really thought that Serena had hurt herself when she fell hard because she just could not let Venus's amazing backhand volley beat her. I guess that was in the "script," too. I hope that, as Andrew said upthread, no one got hurt. But if there were any small injuries, V&S have 3 weeks to take care of them.
I have always heard and believed that it takes an enormous amount of skill to delibarately sing or act or dance -- or play tennis --badly if you normally do so very well. I think that I'd be able to recognize a thrown set or match if I saw one. And I didn't see one on Monday night.
skip1515: I thought that Sampras legitimately won the sets he won in Pete-Roger exos. But I guess my skepticism or cynicsm needs to be a lot more toxic. :)
BTW I don't like those outsized replicas of the prize checks that they lug onto the court after matches, but a friend of mine just called to get a report on my NYC adventure, and here is her theory on the $400,000.00 check: The tennis honchos are hoping that there's another Richard Williams looking at the exo on HBO and thinking, "Four hundred thousand dollars for one night? I think I'd better make my girls play tennis." LOL
Posted by skip1515
03/04/2009 at 03:50 PM
Ruth: I think Sampras won those sets fair and square, too. In the case of those exhibitions I didn't believe it was Split Two Play The Third, though there have been others where that was the case.
Whether or not the level of play at the Federer/Sampras exo's, or any exhibitions, is as adrenaline fueled as a real tourney is another matter. In that respect I'm not sure the Federer/Sampras matches were indicative of anything definitive outside of fun and the occasionally interesting point and dramatic moment.
Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D.
03/04/2009 at 03:54 PM
..."My mind is made up; don't confuse me with the facts."
Ruth, I see you've met my mother.
I enjoyed the match last night (at least I thought I did until I read the post/comments). Unlike some of you, I'll never tire of watching Venus and Serena play each other. There's something about competing against a family member that draws me in each and every time. I admit I may be more focused on their faces for reactions than I am on the tennis.
Posted by Heidi
03/04/2009 at 03:55 PM
I am really interested in the discussion here... and going back to Pete's post, possibly the thing that he pointed out that strikes me as the heart of the problem is the $50,000 donation compared to the big prize money. I do see the issue there about... well, it's a self-congratulatory exo with no real sporting or historical impact and it's not for charity. So if you're going to make the night about BJK and women's rights (bear in mind I didn't hear the speeches), it does sit oddly.
OTOH, as "Tennis Night in America," it makes sense. Perhaps as I suggested before, it was poor staging/marketing?
Posted by Jenn
03/04/2009 at 05:04 PM
Interesting comments, and nice to see Tim gearing up for the clay court season - I know you are looking forward, Tim!
I have always been indifferent to exhibitions, but if they generate more "populist" interest in the game and allow people to see more of favorite players, then great. But Pete's comments about the guaranteed money really rung true for me. Wouldn't it have been nice if these players, who have more money than they could spend, chose to donate all or a substantial chunk of that money to some kind of charitable cause related to women or otherwise tied in to the focus of the event? or heck, any charitable cause. To me, that would have made the evening more significant than a $50,000 donation, 1/24th of the guaranteed appearance fees paid to the players. Just my idealistic 2 cents this afternoon.
Posted by darthhelmethead
03/04/2009 at 05:35 PM
I didn't read the post, or see the exibition. But I felt the need to leave a comment just because of the post's name and my moniker..
May the Swartz be with everyone.
Posted by steve
03/05/2009 at 12:54 AM
It does seem like an obscene amount of money to pay the 4 players for so little time spent on court, but it's obviously far less than the actual revenue generated. If the money hadn't gone to the players it obviously would've gone into someone's pockets, unless the organisers lowered the admission or transmission fees...
I guess we're seeing what they're actually worth... :|
Loved your write up and I pretty much agree. I thought there was a lot of overreaching at times that led to missed opportunities. I guess I was expecting a celebration of the players and what they had accomplished in 2008, but they didn't really touch on that.
I had a fine time. But the whole experience was a bit hollow.
Posted by Nobady
03/07/2009 at 04:12 PM
Its shameful for Ana and Jelena that was making a photo with that terrorist Bil Clinton, same one who was bombarding them 10 years ago! They should spit his face!