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Hungry, Famished, Eager to Feed 01/27/2007 - 5:04 AM

I'm sort of burned out here, but this material from Serena Williams is simply too good not to give you raw, right now - inconsistencies and all. Don't ask me how I got it, either. I'm going to identify the reporters who asked the different questions to the best of my ability:

Bud Collins: Petrova had you in a pretty tough spot. Did you consider it could have been all over in three minutes?

Serena: That would have been third round. She had me in a tough spot. But the funny thing about that match is, I never thought I was going to lose. She beat me like, 6-1 in the first. But I thought I was playing really well. When I was down 5-3, I thought "this is awful." But as long as I keep doing what I'm doing and just making sure that I look at my notes, look at the ball, do this, do that, it will come together.  My balls were going out, but I remember my dad always said it's better if the ball is going out than in the net, so I was thinking it's just a matter of time before they start falling in.  I just never felt I was going to lose that match. I always thought it was going to come together, Down 5-3, I was like, okay, it's got to come together right now.

Me: Do you remember Monica Seles' comeback at the U.S. Open by any chance?

Serena: I know she won Canada. I don't remember the Open. Did she win? Oh yeah, lost in the final then she won here. She was one of my favorite players to watch, I love Monica, to this day. That's what I always think of when I'm coming back. Wow. She came back, she won Canada. That was a huge tournament, Tier 1. I thought about that. If she can do that, nothing is impossible. It's been done before, so I can do it as well.

Doug Robson: What was it like coming here to play a Tier 4 event (Hobart)?

Serena: You know, that Tier-4 was special. I stayed at this really amazing hotel. It wasn't like those horror stories I'd heard about. I was a little nervous, but nothing like I expected. I was expecting something totally different. I was really nervous. But when I got there, the court was small, but really romatic. This background, like the ocean. I felt like i was practicing. I really liked it.

Chris Clarey: No youth hostel?

Serena: No, I've heard some war stories, and this was not one of them. there are worse Tier-4's than Hobart. The tournament director was really nice, facilities were great. There are a lot worse Tier-2's out there.

Bud Collins: Was the loss to (Sybille) Bammer discouraging?

Serena: After I lost to Bammer I locked myself up in my room. My mom wrote me, like, eight to ten emails. Serena, it's okay. She wrote me, like, where are you? She wrote, yo need to come out, you need to train. Like, she wrote me so may emails. I was so upset I lost that match. So I left the hotel, Ieft my sidekick and my phone. I ran, got in shape. Went to this field where no one was at - it was like a Rocky moment - I was like in this big park in Hobart. I had no water. I just had all my workout gear.

I was determined not to let that happen again. I was doing all the exercises that  my physio had me doing. I did some squats and then I was doing some sprints. I was doing shuttle runs, when you run and run back. . . I was doing like six sets of shuttle runs. I had no water. I remember I had my Ipod on, I walked to get some water. I came back and did squats on one leg, then I'd do the other leg, like on these stairs. Then I was running. I was, like, so mad I lost that match and I just did, like, the ultimate workout, basically. I think it paid off.

Then I flew in here and I went for a run later that day. That's how I knew I was fit. Because I was still running. I got here, said, Okay I'm going for a run. I ran up this big hill. I ran around and ran back to the hotel.

Clarey: Was it because you lost to Sybille Bammer, or you just couldn't handle losing in a Tier-4?

Serena: She, by the way, played unbelievable. Not only that, it was the fact that I hadn't won a tournament in a while. I was sure I was going to be a winner. I didn't do it. It was a disappointment to me, I let myself down.

Me: Do you understand how some commentators, and ultimately even many of your fans, almost gave up.. like what's Serena doing with her career? She's letting herself go, is it ever going to happen for her again?

Serena: I can definitely see how some people were like, what happened to Serena? I hadn't played in a while. But when I did play there was a lot of coverage. For tennis players, it's really weird, you play like once, twice a month at the very least. I can understand some of it. I was dealing with a lot of stuff, and I was just tying to figure out my game, what I wanted to do. All I wanted to do was be the best tennis player and at the same time I wanted to do what made me happy. I love winning, the thing that makes me happy is playing tennis,. I love winning, I don't care if its Uno (a simple card game) or running a race. I love winning.

Matt Cronin: Your mother said you've been playing since 4, you needed a mental break.

Serena: Like I said before the Open, I not only wanted to take a physical break, I needed to take a mental break. I really needed it. My career has been like always, whether playing or not, I've always been like in the spotlight, or in the media. I needed time to reflect, pull myself together, get myself together physically. So when I had that break, I was able to get a mental break as well. I desperately needed it. I was going through my sister's death, my grandmother's death (maternal side). Surgeries. I just needed to re-group. Once that all came together. . . Then I was able to take some time off and look at some matches and say, wow, I can be there again. I got my hunger back. Nothing like being hungry for sport of tennis. I was like really hungry, famished, eager to feed.

Serenaao07Jon Wertheim: Taking nothing away from your ability to fight, do you sense the intimidation factor is back?

Serena: I would like to believe that it is. I think of Roger, how many matches does he win because he's Roger Federer? On the name alone. And that's always fun. But you gotta still work, and you gotta play. In '03, I would win matches on reputation alone, like Roger. But I don't sense that I won any matches in this tournament because I'm Serena Williams. I do feel that people were wary, even though the press were saying some things. The players were sensing something different. They knew that I was a competitor, that I was in good form, and I have a good serve and a great return. Obviously, a top competitor. Maybe in the second set in some of my straight sets matches, they would realize, "Oh I'm not going to win this" anyway. Maybe it had a little something to do with it.

Me: Leaving Venus out of it, can you think of another athlete who has the kind of character you have, who shows comparable combative skills and hunger?

Serena: Well, I would never compare myself to Michael Jordan, but. But, seriously, I do not compare myself to Jordan. I remember one time he was really sick, and he retired obviously, and he came back and won three championships. I would love for my career to be like that. He was really awesome.

Doug Robson: Serena, are you in better shape than people give you credit for?

Serena: I definitely think so., Just because I have large bosoms, and I have a big ass (laughter), I swear, my waist is 30 inches -  29 to 30 inches, it's really small! (Steggy notes: That's a modern size 10) I have the smallest waist, but just because I have those two assets, it looks like I'm not fit. Just in the locker room staring at my body, I'm like, "Am I not fit, really not fit? Or is it just that I have all these extra assets?" You know, it just looks like I'm not fit. I don't care if I didn't eat for two years, I still wouldn't be a size 2. No matter how slim I am, I always have this and that. We're living in a [Mary-]Kate Olsen world (gales of laughter now). I'm just not that way, I'm. . . bootylicious, so to say. That's just how it is and always going to be (sheer anarchy, with Serena laughing as hard as anyone).

Doug Robson: At 5-0 you took an overhead into the body, can you comment on that? Do you think she was gong for you?

Serena: You know, I think she was going for me. I think she was going for me and I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing. At that point, you gotta either take your opponent out - to survive. At that point it was like, take me out -- it was her only hope. I definitely would have done the same thing. I didn't see the replay. But for the record, I didn't say any bad words. Someone said I said the "B" word, but I didn't. I said something else. I won't say what I said. It was no curse words, and nothing negative toward her.

Chris Clarey: Today, no watch controversy. Just tennis.

Serena: Today was just two Grand Slam champions going out to play tennis. Two great athletes who played great tennis. I just happened to play better. You can bet that Maria's going home tomorrow to try to get better, and I'm not going to sleep on it. I'm going to go home and train.

Me: We're more worried about you, actually. We need to keep you around for 5 months.

Serena: (laughs) Somebody said that - Hey Serena, when do you play next, the French Open?

Clarey: Who said that?

Serena: John Roddick (Andy's brother) . It was a couple of days ago. We always joke. It was funny. I was like, "Shut-up, John, I'm not. . ."

Cronin: What happened after the U.S. Open. You said you were going to play in the fall and you didn't.

Serena: I definitely wanted to play.  I just didn't make it. I don't know what happened, really.  I remember my dad, and Nick Bollettieri, said I would be better off training. No matter what I did, the year was a lost cause. Why not let go and start the New Year over? It's funny, I thought I was striking the ball better at the U.S. Open. But I just felt I needed to just practice. And I think it paid off.

Doug: Your serve bailed you out so often in this tournament.

Serena: My serve. I'm so happy for it!  My serve was awesome this tournament, even in that second game of the second set today. I thought that was a really important game for me to win. She had a break point. I aced out the T. My serve is back and when I'm serving well, I'm playing well.

Me: You looked really disorganized and in disarray at the Open. The tide seemed to have turned against you.

Serena: I'm still trying to figure out what went wrong there. I felt good, but then I was overconfident. It was going so right - I felt I was playing so well, though.

Wertheim: Colts versus Bears (Super Bowl)

Serena: You know what, I love the Mannings. I obviously root for Eli, because he's the younger brother. I always root for younger bro'. But you gotta want Peyton to win.

Clarey: Did you have fun playing with no pressure based on your ranking?

Serena: It's over now. I'm so excited, I'm number 14 now. It was nice to have no pressure but in a way it sucked. You always had to get wild cards. You had to meet seeds in third round. I don't want to play Petrova in third round. That wasn't fun. I'm back on track. It took me a while. I got a little off the train tracks, but I'm back on now.

End of interview

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Posted by 01/27/2007 at 05:23 AM

I am sorry, but I was so frustrated while I was watching the women's final, I couldn't even put it into words.

How the heck did women tennis evolve to this... disaster? How is this even tennis? Are you kidding me? Maybe Serena put a lot of work to come back from her injuries and stuff, but from as far as I can tell, she has major problems with her movements, and yet barely any player was able to exploit that MAJOR weakness. Not only that, but Sharapova couldn't buy a first serve during the whole night.

Was there any rallies over 10 shots during the match? I don't think so. This is just getting downright ridiculous. As one-sided as the 2 men's seminfinals were, at least both matches had all court tennis being played, with one player of each match playing out of this world tennis, and just hit winners from everywhere off the court. I didn't see any of this in the women's final. TERRIBLE match.

Posted by Clubber Lang 01/27/2007 at 05:44 AM

Serena is an incredible player. She is fun to watch both on and off the court. I'm a big fan of the Williams sisters and was very happy to see Serena step it up during this tournament.

I can't wait to see how the other top WTA players respond when she meets them in other tournaments. Will she have the "Federer" effect on them? My guess is that she will. She has lots of class and uses that to her advantage when it comes to intimidation.

People should learn from the way Serena carried herself during this tournament. She took the hits and kept going. Reminds me of Rocky Balboa. (a great movie by the way)

"It's not how hard you can hit. It's how hard you can get hit and keep moving... forward."

Posted by mrstarstuff 01/27/2007 at 05:50 AM

Serena just beat Tiger without the clubhead on his driver (the glitch in Sharapovas' toss). Any pro would have won that match against Maria w/o her serve.

Posted by steggy 01/27/2007 at 05:58 AM

This is just a reminder for everyone to take another good look at the rules, located in the "New to TennisWorld" category.

Follow them, or your comments will be deleted (or you'll be banned).

Posted by ro'ee 01/27/2007 at 06:17 AM

Equal prize money for this?
Less sets, lower quality, only time a tournament starts before the quarters is when a player hasn't played in 6 months and so is unseeded...
Oh, yes, and I wonder how many tournaments Rajah would take when he's carrying around 10 extra pounds.
"None" would be a good bet.
God, I can't believe I got up at 4:30 for that!!!

Posted by M. 01/27/2007 at 06:30 AM

What a great interview transcript, Pete! Thanks so much! I really enjoyed it. Made me an even bigger Serena KAD. *scratches head in bewilderment* How on earth did that happen?

And WHY do American tennis players have, by and large, such a great sense of humour and the ability to be self-deprecating? First Roddick, now Serena ... it's wonderful!

Thanks again, Petey, you're priceless!

Posted by M. 01/27/2007 at 06:33 AM

PS: Next time you get the opportunity for a Q&A with Serena, you MUST ask her how she gets her hair looking so fabulous!

Posted by steggy 01/27/2007 at 06:58 AM

M.: Heavy conditioning and weekly styling. That much I can tell you. I know she wears extensions (I'm guessing they are woven in, not bonded), and those extensions are likely very high-quality hair - low quality would frizz beyond belief, especially in the heat and humidity of her home state or Australia.

You can tell that Serena has her hair "set" often with hot irons (it's not something that can be done with a regular old $30 ceramic flatiron - the results are massively different). As a result, her hairstyle keeps its shape for quite a long time.

Posted by jadad 01/27/2007 at 07:04 AM

How can the detractors bee so mean....this woman worked hard to get to the final and win is still not enough? Well, I guess success is the best answer and she has answered her there. Next time do not get up at 4 (whatever am) when a Williams reaches a final.

Posted by Rafterfan 01/27/2007 at 07:20 AM

I think I was in agreement with the "Serena's run makes the WTA look weak" camp until this final. The final wasn't about the WTA's inability to throw up good competition. It was about Serena's true talent and determination. Sharapova's serving woes aside, Serena would not have lost this match to anyone no matter how well that person was playing. Much like the two men's semifinals, the value in this match wasn't the competitiveness or the drama - it was the watching of excellence.

Have to tip the hat to Serena.

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 07:28 AM

I see the hater have come on board. Even when Justine lost to Sharapova at the Open, I was the first to say congratulations to her and give her the credit she deserved. Serena deserved to win that match and none of us, unless we have counted the hours she puts in, can say how hard she works or doesn't work. Stop making excuses and give credit where it's dued, Serena won those matches, not by intimination or her opponent losing them, she was the better player. The only match in which her opponent played equal to her was Peer and as Peer herself said Serena played better on the bigger points. Sharapova didn't lose that match because from the time of the first strike of the ball, Serena didn't allow her in and as Sharapova said she played "flawless" tennis. The haters can't change this. I think that picture of her is very beautiful and I just wish Serena would learn to share her assets with a girl who has no butt. She could give me half her top and half her bottom and I would be perfect. Long live American tennis, Pete great job, I died when she talked about her breast and butt and the Olson twins who look sick, they're so thin. Go Serena, ignore the haters and keep on winning, you go girl!

Posted by rob sullivan 01/27/2007 at 07:35 AM

Way to go Serena! No womens player is as ferocious and Likeable! She's guts and determination, and to me, that IS what sport is about, win or lose. She IS A CHAMPION!

Posted by maira M. 01/27/2007 at 07:45 AM

Serena is a wonderful champion and it is a hard pill to swallow for those who wanted to see he fail. Were Maria able to come up with such a great match like Serena did, such comments as "it wasn't a great match and anyone could have beaten Maria playing the way she did" wouldn't be made. Many would have said, she is the worlds number one and it speaks for itself.
Maria commited even more unforced errors and double faults during her match with Ausie Kim, and played worse tennis during that match and yet Kim was unable to beat her. No one commented on how terrible Maria was playing. As a matter of fact they praised her ability as a champion to win after playing so terrible stating she is almost unbeatable.
Now the tennis genius of Serena Williams puts her act together finally and gives Maria a lecture "tennis 101" and what do our greatful fans and tennis family say? "It wasn't such a great match, any one could have beaten Maria".
All I have to say is this, there is also pride in admitting it when someone is too good.
Serena has proven that in so many different ways despite all odds. Applaud her and learn not to be detrimentally blind and negative.

Posted by daylily 01/27/2007 at 07:48 AM

Pete hon, thanks for sharing Serena's high-spirited spontaneity with us. Temes, wherever you are, i hope you were able to watch Serena make this come-back, and that you are feeling better. This one was for you, babe. You're missed.

Posted by Viv 01/27/2007 at 08:34 AM

I echo daylily, thanks for providing us with the lively content of this press conference. I loved the forthright and humourous way she tackled the issue of her anatomical and physical attributes!

Posted by James Hue 01/27/2007 at 08:46 AM

Last year chris evert wrote a letter to serena williams in tennis magazine. She basically said that if serena was hungry and if she fully commited herself to want to win slams again and play a full year injury free she was and still is unbeatable ! Serena has more
than proven herself whither her ranking is 1 or 81 she can beat any player out there today ! If she can stay injury free and continues play well as the year gose by i absolutely believe a serena slam can happen all i can say is maria, justin, & emily watch out because the queen is back !!!!! Go serena !!!!!!!!!

Posted by vivia 01/27/2007 at 08:57 AM

thanks serena you did yourself and your country proud, now we can hear about someone else other than maria who despite all she have achived in this country do not have the decency to AT LEAST BECOME A US CITIZEN, AND REPRESENT THE COUNTRY THAT HAVE GIVEN HER SO MUCH, THANKS SERENA THAT WAS A SUPER SUPER DISPLAY OF SHEER BRILIANCE GOD BLESS, AND MOM AND DAD WE ARE AS PROUD AS YOU ARE .

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 08:59 AM

Serena is bringing American tennis back from the brink of total destruction. Down with the Russians, Czechs, Euros, and the Belgium from the Flemish part. Hail American tennis. Go Justine!

Posted by caro 01/27/2007 at 09:04 AM

hehehehhehe Serena has really made the hater reporters like shriver and anabel croft eat crow. I loved it, and now tennis is exciting as ever.

looking forward to what maria is going to do now.

Posted by incredulous 01/27/2007 at 09:09 AM

i love how people can't be happy when something good happens to other people

i was trying to predict how soon it would be before the haters came out again after Serena's win...and soon

congrats to Serena...she played out of her mind...

it was so surreal

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 09:16 AM

Steggy, I'm not off topic so please don't delete, because I'm kind of worried for Justine, so I had a question for the board. Guy, if Serena continues to play at her current level and Justine plays at her best, who do you think wins at the French, remember it's on clay which neutralizes power? Go Justine!

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 09:27 AM

was that a tennis match or a mugging? wow

poor Yuri looked like a psychotic escapee, didnt he?

Posted by kelvin mcclamb 01/27/2007 at 09:32 AM

Well, personally I hope that Justin Gimelstabe was watching that final. If anyone read the article he wrote on, about the state of the WTA. He said that Serena in the final means a lack of quality players on the WTA. And just because Lindsey and Kim want to retire to have a family, their biological clocks are going off at the same time etc.

What he also failed to comment on is that, Serena was winning matches against a lot of these players when she was competing full time. She's had a lot going on in her life in the last two years. Her grandmother and sister's death, her knee surgery. Her businesses. Tennis has given her the strenght to deal with all of that. I never thought she had lost her desire to compete or play tennis. She may have gotten distracted or lost her focus, but anyone can see the way she competed that she still loves to play.

Also, the comments about her weight really were quite harsh. Serena is a a thick girl. The older she gets the bigger her thighs and rear get. Yes she could probably stand to lose 10-15 lbs, but it obviously didnt mean she wasnt in shape. I really wish our society would get out of that have to be thin to win mentality. And people wonder why young girls grow up with self esteem issues.

Congrats to Serena.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 09:34 AM

Im warming up a bit to this whole story, the part about Yetunde in the speech truly stirred the heart, but i gotta say, the 'in your face' glee of many Serena fans here last night was so distasteful i was shocked... enough said on that..

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 09:43 AM

Oh Tim give it a break, the Serena fan were no different then any other fans who are happy when their favorite win. You didn't want her to win and that's what you find "shocking." Tim even posted a comment about Kim and Sharapova bringing the WTA reputation back. So, of course he's not happy with the outcome which he what he really find "distasteful." Steggy, I'm a playing nice because Tim should have at least come in here and said Congratulations to Serena, just like I did for Sharapova over Justine. Tim, what would Roger have done, he would have done the right thing and congratulated a person even if he disliked them. Go Justine!

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 09:44 AM

and look guys, if Roger Federer played four touraments a year and put on 25 lbs and such, he'd get all the heat Serena does, and more ... but you can bet he wouldnt get away with coming back to win a Slam and make the currernt No. 1 player look like a one trick pony...

this isnt 'hating' as Samantha puts it, its a reality check, plain and simple ... good for Serena for putting her demons to rest, but the WTA is a disaster zone right now, fragile bodies, fragile minds, and it took a Serena in top form to expose the truth...

Posted by Ray Stonada 01/27/2007 at 09:44 AM

Pete called this one: Serena, Human Warrior Moment.

Two things that impressed me to no end:

1) On balls where she was stretched wide to the forehand, Serena usually tries to amp it up and sprays the forehand wide or in the net. In this match, she calmly steered every such ball down the line, with extra top to keep it in, and those shots, though not hit that hard were winners or error-producers every time. Great discipline.

2) After each highlight-reel winner, I'm used to seeing Serena scream defiantly and pump her fist, losing control a tiny bit. Kinda like Old Gonzo - one amazing winner followed by two unforced while you regain you composure. In this match, Serena was so New Gonzo: after each of those roughly 30 electrifying winners, she reined it in and got ready for the next point. So good. So so good.

I am really happy for her.

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 09:50 AM

Intended to say which is what he really find distasteful. Tim, I'm really surprise at you when you always talk about how nice and graceful Roger is and no congratulations from you. Hmmm!

Posted by Vee 01/27/2007 at 09:57 AM

Serena girl, you made me proud. This entire tournament, I was praying--wishing that you would go all the way; but I was just so happy to see you back and playing so well. I knew that the Petrova match would be a test and even if you didn't win, I was still so very proud of you. But, you came through that match and all of the others. It's just so sad that people are so blinded with fear and hate that they can't see all the work that you have invested to get to this point. Your labors have yielded abundant fruit--1st the Australian Open title and I'm waiting on the others. Anyway, if Maria had taken you to school like you just schooled her, the haters would not be saying that this match was terrible; or that any pro would have beaten Maria serving like that. The bottom line is that Serena DID NOT allow Maria in the match--plain and simple. When Serena shut down every aspect of Maria's game, that's when Maria's confidence began to crumble; thus her serve suffered immensely. Serena put on a text-book clinic. Go Serena and may God reward you abundantly for your hard work. I am so very proud of you.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:01 AM

like I said, Samantha, serena's speech stirred my heart, and Im warming a bit to this, but that match was terrible, no rallies, no drama, nil ... I guess I could jump up and down just to make you happy, but I imagine you've got a shopping spree planned for that!

Posted by christopher 01/27/2007 at 10:01 AM

Congratulations Serena! I am glad to see Serena kick Sharapova’s butt so badly. And yes, I agree with Maira, the cheater (Sharapova) played terribly in the semi against Kim and no brought that up. The cheater (Sharapova) was just lucky because Kim was tired from a full month of tennis. The cheater (Sharapova) should be extremely low in confidence right now because she was injured-free and couldn’t even play one good point against Serena who is just coming back from so many injuries within the last two years (and was even having a cold throughout the Ausie Open). Can you imaging what other damages Serena can do to the cheater (Sharapova) as she gets healthier along the way? In short, the cheater (Sharapova) could only win through cheating and luck (when other players are either injured or tired). GO SERENA.

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 10:03 AM

The WTA isn't a disaster zone, the best player won pure and simple, no excuses about fragile minds and broken bodies.The ATP has a one man competition going in which Roger can only lose to himself and the WTA is a disaster zone? Give me a break. Are those blow out matches like the Roger/ Roddick exciting to the fans who want to see a competitive match in which we DON'T know the outcome? When you have matches like Amelie vs Justine and Peer vs Serena which scored the highest rating ever on ESPN 2. I would say the WTA is very interesting and part of the resugents is Serena. Her matches are widely view, more so then any other player. Pete said it best, tennis is about winning, not the should of, could of. Serena should of been more fit and could of had more matches and should have played more then 4 tourneys. Nonsense, winning a grandslam is the ultimate goal in tennis.

Posted by Ray Stonada 01/27/2007 at 10:05 AM

Hey Sammy, to answer your query, I think Serena with the control and focus she showed yesterday would be the favorite over Justine playing her best, even on clay. JMO.

Posted by Ruth 01/27/2007 at 10:06 AM

Pete: Thank you very much for this post. I guess these delicious Q&A's came from the small-group meeting that you mentioned because they are not part of the post-match interview published on the AO site. Serena's comments about her running and running after the Hobart loss reminded me of what I'd posted re: Shriver's saying how she saw Serena runing and running alone very early in the morning at another tournament (I think it was the LaCosta tourney.)

I also enjoyed Serena's discussion of those -- ah -- assets which, as I indicated in another comment, are actually accentuated by that very small waist of hers.

Don't worry, Serena, some of us know that you're fit, that you have a physio, that you train hard. We know that you don't roll out of a bed full of Doritos and McDonald's and turn up on the court. Others will think otherwise, regardless of your performance on court, and we'll just let them stew in their unbelief. :)

Samantha: Justine is wisely taking some time off, just as Serena did last year, because emotional health is often as important as physical health for an athlete who must be intensely focused on the field of play. The only thing that I can predict is that, if Justine and Serena meet at the FO and both are fully healthy, we can expect to see one of the toughest and best tennis matches that the women's tour has seen in quite a while. I can't -- won't :) -- predict who would win.

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 10:06 AM

Tim, why no criticism for Maria who you think will restore the reputation of the WTA, when she tried to hit Serena with that drop shot. Mary Carillo said it best, when you can't beat your opponent, you beat her with the ball. Yes, I understand that hitting and going right after your opponent is legal in tennis, but it's still wrong, period.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:09 AM

oh my Gosh stop the insanity, Serena in this form would beat Justine 6-3 6-2, on clay, grass, or glass! be careful what you wish for...

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/27/2007 at 10:10 AM

Mr. Bodo! That was awesome. These posts you are writing are the most honest and best tennis writing out there. And thank you for asking Serena Williams about Ms. Seles: couldn't help but notice the angles and the fight. AWESOME.

Posted by Ian 01/27/2007 at 10:12 AM

People talk like Serena played so horribly at the U.S. Open last year, but she beat Hantuchova and Ivanovic before losing to Mauresmo in a three-setter that included a 6-0 for Serena. No one should have left that U.S. Open thinking there was no hope for her for the near future.

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 10:12 AM

Guys, at least I got him to say something nice about Serena even if I disagree with it. Remember clay will neutralize a power hitter and the serve isn't as important. Also remember the 03 FO. Go Justine!

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:13 AM

Sammy, kick up your heels and hit the stores, dont forget to buy me a present for all the fun you have kickin my rear admirals!

Posted by Victor 01/27/2007 at 10:13 AM

Ro'ee, you woke up to watch it??? What were ya thinkin'? Women's tennis is such a bore right now, I hardly watched a couple of games, let alone mathces, during the AO.

At the risk of sounding sexist, which I think I'm not, who would possibly want to watch women's tennis when there's men's tennis at the same time?

Posted by kelvin 01/27/2007 at 10:16 AM

Ruth you said it best. I even questioned myself if she would make it to the 2nd week of the tournament. She's proven to everyone that she may not have been match fit yet, but she was in shape physically. That extra weight will definitely start to come off as she plays more tournments. Her belief in herself is immense and it has to be. Like her mother said when she was a kid it was up to her to instill that. When she grew up it was up to her to believe, and she did.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:17 AM

Samantha, I even had to say it TWICE, just for you!

Posted by Ian 01/27/2007 at 10:20 AM

Pete: Revealing quote from Serena's hitting partner about wanting to take Sharapova's time away. That contradicts somewhat from her assertion that it's always about her, not the opponent.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:27 AM

WTA NOT in trouble?? lets look at the truth here...

Sharapova has two shots, a flat forehand and backhand...she's horrible to watch... Serena exposed ger immense lack of flexibility and bashing doesnt work, this gal is lost... and when did she steal Dementie's serve?

Mauresmo is back to her feeble, cant crack an egg tennis...expect antoher 4th round loss in Paris... how can you get overpowered by Lucie Safarova??

Henin's body and personal life are both so fragile, who knows what's next for her?

Petrova, Vaidisova, Ivanovic, Dementie, Kutzy, are all interchangeable, and dull, bashers with zero chance of being No. 1

Clisters? she'll be baking cookies asap...

Hingis is fun, but will never challenge for no. 1 or a Slam...

what's left? More Venus and Serena finals? I think I'll start watching The World Series of Poker during the next Slam finals if this keeps up...



Posted by rchargingthunder 01/27/2007 at 10:30 AM

Missed the match. only saw the celebration and thought there would be a re-broadcast. anyone know if there will be one?

Posted by steggy 01/27/2007 at 10:31 AM

rchargingthunder: You might see if ESPN2 or ESPN is having an afternoon rebroadcast of the Women's final.

Posted by Rosangel 01/27/2007 at 10:33 AM

A big thanks to Pete for this and his earlier post about Serena and Oracene Williams. I was wrong - until seeing her at this AO, I thought Serena had lost some of her will to win, especially after the terrible death of her sister, followed by other things in her own life, including injuries. She played a very good match last night if winning was what was needed. I'd agree with Tim that there was no drama - it was an execution. In that light, and given the way Sharapova's serve broke down, the only surprise is that Sharapova got any games. I wasn't surprised that Serena beat Sharapova - not after seeing her earlier-round matches against Petrova and Peer. But surprised at the manner and swiftness of it.

Mentioning the inspiration provided by Yetunde last night was indeed a real moment of truth about Serena's life.

The WTA has problems beyond Serena Williams. To that extent I don't see how having her back in the mix, assuming she keeps on playing with this kind of fire, can be bad in itself for the WTA. If it's true that having her come back after two years and win lke this 'shows up' the rest of the tour - well, maybe that's needed.

It would be very interesting to see Serena play Justine Henin. But it probably wouldn't be a beautiful match to watch.

Posted by caro 01/27/2007 at 10:36 AM

Pete, i just wanted to say thank you for posting that.

i'm still deliriously happy with serenas' performance. maria had no idea what hit her. top player beaten in a final in 63minutes, ahhh tim, even you have to give it to serena. she literally thrashed maria.

mens' final. am a big feds' fan, but i have this feeling gonzales is going to beat him in 4sets.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:43 AM

Oh Serena made a fool of Sharapova, but in that, she also made a fool of the whole womens' tour, no? how can a part time player beat the NO. 1, 6-1 6-1?? it makes Serena look like a worldbeater, not sure how it makes the rest of the women look... pretty foolish, id say

Posted by ADam 01/27/2007 at 10:49 AM

serena is the best diva in tennis now people said she can't do it look at her now she won her 8th grand SLAM title!.and maria needs to watch out because if she thinks she is miss thing over there venus and serena will take her down GO SERENA I LOVE U!!!!!!!!!!! p.s this year is a serena slam stay tuned!

Posted by Sam 01/27/2007 at 10:50 AM

Good stuff, Pete. I'm really happy for Serena. She had her game face on all match and played great. Well done.

I'm a huge Henin fan, but Serena at her best is better than Henin. Sorry Samantha.

Posted by 01/27/2007 at 10:52 AM

Tim, I dont see it that way. But I do understand where you're coming from with that. My guess is that its just an example of how much talent Serena does have, that she's able to do that. I dont think its something she should make a habit of doing. If Justine and Lindsey were still were playing the outcome may have been a lot different. But they arent.It doesnt diminish her accomplishment. All it did was prove that she does still have the fire of competing still in her and that when her game is on, she's difficult to win against.

But yes I wouldve liked to have seen a more complete match from Maria. But I do think she took her loss gracefully and with maturity. She'll be back in a final as a winner I'm sure. This time Serena just played better

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 10:53 AM

oops I wouldnt go there Samantha -- a Serena fan would point out that the FO semifinal in '03 was stolen by Justine with that hand gesture during Serena's serve that you can bet Serena hasn't ever forgotten... baby S. gonna give some serious pay-back over that one !

Posted by Helen 01/27/2007 at 10:55 AM

I agree that Serena’s victory has highlighted the relative weakness of women’s tennis in general although I thought her performance in the final was excellent against any benchmark.

For as long as I’ve been watching women’s tennis (on and off for about 20 years), I’ve generally only ever watched women’s matches from the quarter finals onwards since there’s always been a sizeable gap between the top 1-5 and the rest from what I can remember. However, between the top players, I can remember matches that were competitive, close AND high quality and it is the latter component which has been really lacking for me over the last few years (mindless ball bashing, masses of unforced errors, lack of finesse and lack of flexibility in strategy, all the usual complaints). So much so that I’ve stopped enjoying Slam semi-finals and finals (women’s).

That’s why I enjoyed the final so much yesterday: even though it was one-sided, I enjoyed watching a woman player play so well against a top-ranking opponent.
I hope it does have the effect of spurring on the rest of the women but for the moment, I’ll settle for Serena back in the mix, hopefully playing her best, against Maria, Justine and Amelie (although I’ve always liked Kimmie, she could retire tomorrow for all the difference she’d make, in my opinion). That’s why I have renewed hope for Slam semi-finals and finals though not for much else at the moment in women’s tennis.

Posted by Andrew 01/27/2007 at 10:56 AM

How can anyone not congratulate Serena Williams? She came through the top players in the field, had opponents serving for the match, was dismissed (or worse) before and during the tournament - then delivered a total thrashing of the world no 1 in a GS final? How can you not give it up for her and say every compliment you can think of?

Now, thinking of this match as a spectacle, just in and of itself, I can see two ways you might have enjoyed it: one as a Serena fan, roaring approval after every put away of a weak second serve. As Seinfeld would say, "not that there's anything wrong with that." When our heroines do well, go nuts! GEs all round!

The second is as a Maria disliker. If you wanted to see Maria crushed, last night you had your wish. Just as many people like X, others dislike Y. Nothing wrong with that either. a lover of high quality tennis, this wasn't it. Again, I am absolutely not saying Serena played bad tennis. The number of winners she hit off her first or second shot were frightening. And that's what really frightens me: the world no 1, on point after point, couldn't sustain a rally from the base line for more than two shots.

The evolution of women's singles in the last eight years or so has brought us to here: it appears to me that the speed of the top tier of WTA player's groundstrokes has passed the speed that players can recover court position. The court has essentially got too big in the WTA, and the Bollitieri bash style is producing top ten players producing fundamentally unattractive matches.

All hail Serena! And please, can we have some great WTA singles matches in the next decade?

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:03 AM

cmon, that match wasnt even a contest, in any way shape or form... Sharapova couldnt win a rally, and she lucked out to win the games she did... lets not downplay the Grand Canyon between their skill levels last night... and anyone that thinks more Venus Serena finals is good for tennis or the WTA needs to look back a few years and remember those error riddles, hideous matches ...

I FAR prefer the serve and volley diversity of the Momo-Justine final in Madrid, I mean, which would you rather watch?

Last night wasnt tennis, it was a one strike and you're out snuff fest ..

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 11:07 AM

Tim,The ATP has a one man competition going with the gap between Roger and the other going wider. If you think the Serena match was a blowout just look at what Roger did to Roddick, and what he's going to do to Gonzo will make the WTA look like the most competitive sport. What is Gonzo record again Roger? Has he ever beaten Roger? At least Sharapova and Serena were tied 2 and 2 inspite of the blow out.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:08 AM

I have to agree Andrew, the game has become so fast, and the strokes so powerrful, that no one has time to set up, devise strategy or take a breath... Shriekie, the ulimate basher, was bashed to bits by an even bigger basher! not one rally went 10 strokes... you think 15,000 fans are gonna keep showing up for that?

however, it was great to see MJF speechless for a change, the Maria PR machine shut down cold!

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:10 AM

Rogers' matches are entertaining, shotmaking, 7-5 sets, close games, etc., you cant compare the two, Sammy... um, dont you have some shopping to do?

and we'll see about tnight, its gonna be close, im almost sure of it.. but if Roger wins 6-1 6-1 6-1, Ill buy YOU an apology gift, ok?


Posted by jeremy 01/27/2007 at 11:10 AM

But samantha I have to say something about Justine beating Serena in 03 at the French Open. I feel it was cheap how Justine won it. And im not gonna say that Serena could've or would've won but like Peter says there are no could of or would of in tennis. Also if Serena really would've she wouldve beaten Justine in the second set. But yea im rambling right now. The point is is that Justine relied on cheating and her dumb Belgian fans to beat Serena. And if you really look back at that match you know its true. Lets see it was Serena serving at 4-2 in the last set. I think she was serving at 30-something, sorry if im a lil off, its been so long, and then Serena serves but its a fault for that Justine put up her hand at the last second. Then Justine didn't even acknowledge that she did put her hand up and that led to Serena dropping her serve and eventually losing the match. There's no doubt in my mind that Serena did have a mental lapse but still i feel that in my heart Justine and her Belgium fans caused this lapse. But thats all i have to say and I hope Samantha that you realize that Justine's win was sort of a sham. But i will congratulate her on that win against Clijsters because she obviously was the better competitor out there. Ok, im done.

Posted by dc rock 01/27/2007 at 11:11 AM

Big Tubby (BT) Came through. She served well and deserved to win. We're going to Sizzler. We're going to Sizzler

Posted by keith 01/27/2007 at 11:14 AM

The WTA is so much more interesting than 'The Roger Federer Show' right now it's amazing. Serena's run was amazing; I had doubts she could beat Maria but they were destroyed quickly. If the Serena haters (along with wta haters) want to keep on talking trash, go ahead, but you will all continue to look like fools.

congrats serena!!

Posted by 01/27/2007 at 11:15 AM

I agree with that comment Tim. In the article MJF wrote on, she said something to the effect that she swore that she could see the pounds coming off Serena every match she played. What was that all about, after bashing her the entire first week of play? About her weight, fitness and focus on tennis. Lack of match play(which I did agree with btw).

She then does a 180 and starts to basically imply she's the fave to win it all the next week. Her comments to me really seemed to focused on that issue, which obviously wasnt much of an issue at all. But I guess its only because the competition was so inferior.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:17 AM

Keith, if u want to revel in 6-1 6-1 Grand SLam finals without ONE decent rally, be my guest..some of us prefer watching tennis..

Posted by AB 01/27/2007 at 11:18 AM

I'm really glad Serena won but that wasn't a good match. No matter how tired you were when you watched it. There were no rallies to speak of. Sharpie served like Dementieva (commentators where saying that many of her serves could only go one place). And Serena does make the WTA tour look like idiots, I'm sorry to say. I know she fought hard and I know she served well but to hardly be challenged by any of the top players after being out so long?Doesn't seem good.

btw if I'm lucky enough to actually get this post up-why does the site seem to think I'm a spammer?

Posted by Leila 01/27/2007 at 11:21 AM

Yeeehaaaa Serena!!!! Killer looks, killer drive, killer serve! My Mom, my Aunt and I (avid fans of yours!) have been waiting for you to heal, find yourself and tennis again. There was never any doubts in our minds that once you really wanted it again it would be yours!

I am so glad that Serena is back...and, in a big way. Showing fans and players alike that she still has what it takes. Her aggressive looks and play on the court is awsome. Her determination to be a champion shows in her ferocious focus and her ability to come back when she's down and almost out is amazing!

For those of you that aren't Serena fans (all two of you) give the girl some credit! Not that it really matters, all of the nay sayers are eating their nasty comments for breakfast this morning.

Now...we just need to get her to share some of her secrets with her Sister and James Blake. We want to see Venus back too! And, Blake has all the makings but he could use a little of Serena's ability to keep or regain her focus when she's down in a match and fight her way back.
Hehe Serena!! You showed 'em!!

Posted by Andy 01/27/2007 at 11:24 AM

Sharapova sucks. I was hoping Serena would beat her with double- bagel (6-0, 6-0). Camille Pin would probably played a better match than Sharapova. Anyhow, cheaters like her and her dad do NOT belong in any final in the first place. CONGRATUALTIONS SERENA

Posted by Sam 01/27/2007 at 11:24 AM

Ruth: Good thoughts in your 10:06 post. I'd love to see some good Justine-Serena battles. Clay would be best for Justine. On a faster court it would be a tougher task.

"The court has essentially got too big in the WTA."

Interesting, Andrew. Dunlop brought this up during the first week of the AO, and it is a topic worth looking closer at.

"I FAR prefer the serve and volley diversity of the Momo-Justine final in Madrid."

Same here, Tim.

Posted by Andrew 01/27/2007 at 11:28 AM

Sam: do you recall the post Dunlop commented on? I'd like to go back and re-read it.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:30 AM

I find it depressing to look forward to more of these types of matches, where there's barely a rally in the lot... anyone remember Serena beating the tar out of Ivanovic at the Open last year... great tennis from Serena, hideous to watch, slap happy, 3 ball tennis, not a drop shot, slice or hint of strategy, just all out aggression ...

i guess Im old school, but as I said, Id find watching Poker more interesting

Posted by Alonso 01/27/2007 at 11:34 AM

Just wanted to stop in and say congrats to Serena for an amazing match. This was the most 'clean' I've seen Serena play since her match against Lisa Raymond at Wimbledon 2000. Anybody remember that one? About the same scoreline I think. Serena was phenomenal last night!

Also, Pete, thanks for this transcript. It's great to be able to identify the various reporters as well. Great amounts of appreciation for that, and for this site in general.


Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:34 AM

Leila, all credit to Serena to be sure, but the thought of her dominating the game again almost reduces me to tears for the lack of watchable tennis with any strategy, finesse or any hint of what the game used to be ... i am sad about that ... I dont expect Justine to in any way handle these big bashers, given her fragility, and Mauresmo is clearly unable to as well... its power and more power, at least Roger has great rallies before he spanks his opponent down...

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 11:36 AM

Jeremy, I'm not going to Bash Serena about FO, 03 because I respect her too much, but Serena herself said that the hand incident wasn't the reason for the loss and she said how great Justine played. I just think people need to accept that Justine won that match because she was the better player on clay and Serena won the Wimbledon match a few months later on grass because she was the better player on that surface. When people are saying that Serena can beat Justine in her present form they're NOT taking into account that the clay is Serena's worse surface and it's clearly Justine's best. Even the best don't win on clay, just look at Roger, this is the only time he's vulnerable and I think this is true for Serena. The clay will eliminate the edge that the power and great serve gives to her game. Go Justine!

Posted by Destiny 01/27/2007 at 11:40 AM

Serena proved to the tennis world that no matter how much they praise certain players accomplishments by building them up to be unbeatable that the Williams game is still the best there is when they are healthy and hungry for the game.

Posted by Curvy 01/27/2007 at 11:50 AM

I just don't get it. There is no way you would go to france, Russia or anywhere in the world and find people supporting another country against their countryman. Americans are the only people on this planet I see putting down their own. Serena Williams is 100% American, and it should not matter what the color of her skin is,she's AMERICAN! Why not give her full support. The Williams sister are the ones who brought women tennis to where it is today, so people should at least be greatful and thankful. Without the wWilliams sisters, what position would the U.S be, in women tennis for the last five years. It breaks my heart when I hear the American commentators like Mary Carillo, Tracy Austin, Pam Shriver diliberately enjoys tearing down the Williams sisters, especially Serena, and lift up Maria Sharapova, who is not even American. I think it all has to do with race and it is so sad. If the Williams sisters were white with blonde hair,it would have been a totally different situation. I must say that I am proud of the way These girls handle themselves inspite of all these adversaries. Serena,Thank you for being a great inspiration to our young upcoming U.S tennis players. Thank you for giving them hope.Thank you for another major tile. Thank you for making America proud. Congratulations!!! Job well done. I wish you God's continued guidance and great continued success for the rest of your career. Who God BLESS, no man CURSE. One love!!!


Posted by Ruth_YUL 01/27/2007 at 11:55 AM

I will not and cannot disagree that the WTA can benefit from a little dose of the Williams-resolve, Sharapova-tenacity or even the Henin-mettle. I think that someone, something needs to happen to have at the very least the top twenty gain SOME of these qualities. Personally I`m of the belief that these qualities are more easily acquired by our male counterparts (their practically instinctively there).
But this aside the Williams will got her to the final but her tennis skill got her the trophy pure and simple. Sure Sharapova wasn`t serving well, and in fact she should have never gotten past Clijsters with that kind of serving. But somehow she did and Serena never allowed her a chance to get into any kind of rhythm.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 11:56 AM

oh brother, now we have to bring patriotism into tennis? i cheer for players i like, i dont care what country theyre from ...

not appreciating Serena's brand of tennis isnt 'hating' for pete sake, enough already, arent we evolved enough to be allowed our own tastes, opinions and favorites?

Posted by THOMAS 01/27/2007 at 11:59 AM

Anybody out there know how Serena's right shoulder is? She pulled something at the end of the 1st set & was easing up on her 1st serves a bit. She was touching the area at the end of the match. Hope it is just a strain.

We don't want any more injuries this year getting in the way of Serena reclaiming her #1 tennis crown...

Hail to the Queen!

Posted by Neil 01/27/2007 at 11:59 AM

Curvy, first of all noone is bashing Serena. And secondly her race really has nothing to do with this discussion. All we're saying is that we would rather see a competitive match in a grandslam final. Its not bashing Serena. Kudos to her for showing shes still got that fire for the game. But, look at who she had to beat to get there. Not one of them besides Maria had any extensive grand slam experience. She was supposed to beat all of them. The match against Maria was onesided and actually pretty dull. Thats not bashing Serena nor her race. People just want to see some competitive tennis and that was not it. Serena played probably the most perfect match Ive ever seen her play in a final.

We'd just like to see more of a match than just batting practice, which is what it looked like.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 12:02 PM

lol dont worry Thomas, if Serena serves like that injured, she could probably win next time with her arm in a sling ...

Posted by Samantha 01/27/2007 at 12:03 PM

Curvy as a person born in Europe, I don't understand it, not rooting and cheering for your own.It's weird because some American actually think Sharapova is more American then Serena. Go figure, Maria is Russian and has said so many times. I cheer for Serena because let's face it, American tennis is in sorry shape and we need our best players to do well. Davenport and Capriati are gone, and Shaugnessy should be gone and Harkleroad isn't going anywhere, so Serena should be supported by all those who want to see American tennis do well. Long live American tennis!

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 12:06 PM

u said it, Neil, and if Serena IS at her best, we'll be stuck with more finals like it, barely a rally, just aces, and bashing returns of serve, but it sounds like thats what turns many people on today ..

again, no matter how easily Roger wins, at least we get some fun rallies, variety and a competitive set or two ... when Serena plays like that, no one else can even keep the ball in play

Posted by THOMAS 01/27/2007 at 12:06 PM

Yeah I hear you Tim. Probably if Serena's arm was in a sling they would say she was not eligible to serve. But seriously: Does anybody know what she did to her shoulder?

Posted by rudy3 01/27/2007 at 12:06 PM

Serena: I definitely think so., Just because I have large bosoms, and I have a big ass (laughter), I swear, my waist is 30 inches - 29 to 30 inches, it's really small! (Steggy notes: That's a modern size 10) I have the smallest waist, but just because I have those two assets, it looks like I'm not fit. Just in the locker room staring at my body, I'm like, "Am I not fit, really not fit? Or is it just that I have all these extra assets?" You know, it just looks like I'm not fit. I don't care if I didn't eat for two years, I still wouldn't be a size 2. No matter how slim I am, I always have this and that. We're living in a [Mary-]Kate Olsen world (gales of laughter now). I'm just not that way, I'm. . . bootylicious, so to say. That's just how it is and always going to be (sheer anarchy, with Serena laughing as hard as anyone).

You go girl!!!! I really enjoyed watching Serena win (and truth be told, watching Maria eat a little humble pie). It reminded me of her first USO title, all joy and elation. I hope se comes back, dedicates herself, and begins a federesque type march through the draws.

As a teacher of high school girls, I love her comments here. Just love 'em!!! And straight up, I never thought I would be saying something like that about Serena Williams words! Count me among the converted.

Brava Serena...way to win the battle of the Nike girls!!!

Posted by mmy 01/27/2007 at 12:07 PM

"Americans are the only people on this planet I see putting down their own. "

From which I can comfortably deduce that you have not traveled to some of the places in which I have watched tennis. And if you have you have managed to avoid noticing things that were quite obvious.

Just for example, I have seen Canadian crowds boo Canadian players before they so much as hit their first serve. And if you want to see just how much a people can put down their 'own' players just check out the coverage of poor Tim Henman in England.

Posted by Ray Stonada 01/27/2007 at 12:09 PM

Curvy and Sammy, come on, rooting for someone only for their nationality is narrow-minded. It so happens that I'm American an so is my favorite player ever, but, sometimes, giving your "full support" to a compatriot is impossible: at the USO 2002, I couldn't very well root for both Andre and Pete, could I?

You gonna impugn Lucy's patriotism for not liking Hewitt? Or Temes for loving Serena above all else despite being Finnish? Or Rosangel for loving Borg more than John Lloyd?

Root for who you LIKE.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 12:11 PM

*pins honorary American citizenship medal on Samantha*

we in the US are totally spoiled of course, part of the reason we dont automtically cheer for Americans ... lets face it, plenty of Americans embarrassed us over the years, too (Connors, McEnroe, early Agassi, sometimes Roddick, etc.), it took the women like Evert, Davenport to make Americans seems sportsmanlike and respectable to the world...

Posted by Ray Stonada 01/27/2007 at 12:14 PM

We did have Arthur Ashe!

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 12:18 PM

Stonada, the man of reason, good post ...

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 12:19 PM

and Stan Smith! and cranky Jim Courier, for that matter!

Posted by Paul Ryan 01/27/2007 at 12:20 PM

Me cheer for an American? Please. Sure I cheered on Agassi and it took a while but I also cheered on Davenport. Now I'm a Blake fan. But I'll always be a Swiss KAD because Hingis and Federer made me FALL IN LOVE with tennis. Can't really say that for any other players.

As for Serena's win, I applaud it. Is the WTA weak because of it? Perhaps, but like Roger's domination hopefully it will light a fire into the tour to get better. I just hope Serena stays put. That's all we can really ask of her.

Posted by Sam 01/27/2007 at 12:29 PM

"Sam: do you recall the post Dunlop commented on? I'd like to go back and re-read it."

Sorry Andrew, I don't recall which thread it was in.

" for someone only for their nationality is narrow-minded"

Same here, Ray. Nationality had no impact on who I root for - I'm more interested in their tennis. Over the years I've liked players from various countries. If you root for players from your own country, that's great, but you shouldn't expect everyone else to do the same. Either that or I'm not patriotic since my favorite players are Federer and Henin ...

Posted by mmy 01/27/2007 at 12:32 PM

Sam, when I am watching tennis I would say that my 'nationality' is 'the world of tennis.' Over the years I have supported players from countries all over the world -- but I have not supported them as Aussies or Swedes or Swiss or American -- I have supported them as citizens of the world of tennis.

Posted by ... 01/27/2007 at 12:37 PM

Honestly, that match was bad. I don't mean to be a 'hater' or anything, but Serena Williams is letting her ego get to her. Maria was in bad shape the whole tournament (First round win against Camille Pin and the heat and all that.) Its rather upsetting. I hope they both do better next time.

Posted by Sam 01/27/2007 at 12:37 PM

Thanks mmy, you expressed how I feel more eloquently than I was able to.

Posted by Tim 01/27/2007 at 12:41 PM

there's a great clip on about everyone being called a 'hater' by Serena and how contrived the whole concept it .. cant link to it but its a good read ...

Posted by Andrew 01/27/2007 at 12:45 PM

Well, I think there's a difference between rooting for a national team, an individual competing in an event like the Olympics where one attends in large part as a representative of one's nation, and an event like a tennis GS where the national identity of the players has next to no bearing on who gets to play.

I will cheer the English national team on in soccer, rugby and cricket even when I think their level of play is well below their opponents.

If Tim Henman plays well, I tend to enjoy it a bit more because of his nationality. Andy Murray not so much, because I'm not attracted to his playing style or on-court demeanor.

Posted by Scott 01/27/2007 at 12:52 PM

Just wanted to chime in to say I thought it was an enjoyable match. It always surprises me when people say they like tennis -- but only if it is played in a certain way. Different players have different methods. I remember those who said that Sampras was killing tennis because his brand of tennis killed rallies. Big serve, quick putaway. And I remember those who said Lendl was soo boring. The nonsense never stops. Stunning display by Serena. To hit those type of shots, with those extreme angles and that agression, and to make so few errors. Remarkable. Just remarkable.

Those who want to find a reason to dislike Serena will continue to find their reasons. I didn't hear some of these same people bemoan the lack of rallies and suspense when Federer undressed Roddick just the other day. Didn't hear the concern for the boring state of men's tennis when Gonzo used wicked power and winners to leave his side of the draw looking shell-shocked and bloodied.

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/27/2007 at 12:54 PM

I think that Pat Cash has got some apologizing to do! He better write a better follow-up column; after all that is what a good columnist should do when they are dead wrong. Acknowledge what he missed and why. That will make him more credible in the long run as a commentator and columnist. Aside from being pretty stark and unflinching in terms of his opinion of many players who simply had a much more brilliant career than he had (not slighting him: that's just reality), do you think his column motivated Serena?

"The Times January 14, 2007

Williams is lost cause
Pat Cash
For all her talk, Serena Williams will never return to the top again

IF ANYBODY is qualified to make deluded statements about tennis, it is a former world No 1 and winner of seven Grand Slam titles. But when Serena Williams arrives in Australia on her first foreign playing trip in a year and announces that it is only a matter of time before she is again dominating the sport, it’s time to tell her to get real.

Tennis is unforgiving. You can’t let it slide down the list of priorities, only to realise suddenly that playing the sport was what you wanted to do all along. Many have tried to turn back the clock, but nearly all have failed. That list includes Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Martina Hingis and, for different reasons, Monica Seles.

Admittedly this quartet experienced some success. The exploits of Hingis reaffirm the belief that a good champion never completely loses the gift, but she has gone only a fraction of the way and the No 1 ranking she held for a couple of years is far out of reach. Why? Tennis moved on in her absence.

The only players I can recall who let things slip, only to climb back to the top, were Andre Agassi and Jennifer Capriati. Williams should ask herself if she has the same dedication. And is she prepared to make the sacrifices? The answer is obvious.

As the saying so often used by McEnroe goes: “The older I get, the better player I used to be.” I take issue with Mac over many things, but not the merits of those words.

Williams may be in better physical shape this year than when she pitched up for the 2006 Australian Open, but her three matches in Hobart last week were her first in tournament play since the US Open almost four months ago. Add to that the fact that last year she opted not to play outside the US after losing in the third round in Melbourne and you cannot fail to agree that her application is lacking.

The Williams sisters changed the face of women’s tennis, taking power play to previously unimaginable levels. They blazed everybody else out of their path. But Serena clearly has a limited attention span. At her peak she had no patience in the way she played her tennis. Now she does not appear to have the fortitude to stick at what she is trying to do.

I never experienced a fraction of the success and dominance that she enjoyed, but there came a time in my career when everything associated with being a top player seemed suffocating. I wanted to do different things and the thought of heading to the practice court seemed like purgatory. Eventually I realised how much tennis meant to me and tried to make up for lost time, but although the spirit was willing, the body was not. And it made for years of frustration.

In the same way I maintained that my main interest was aspiring to be a rock musician for a couple of years, Williams said she was an actress. She also got involved in the fashion world and seemed to love every second of it. Good on her. She is entitled to do whatever she wants, and if it made her happy, what more could she ask?

Everybody knows she and Venus had no real choice when their father, Richard, decided that much of their childhood would be spent hitting tennis balls. Who can be surprised that this promotes a desire to do something different? But to make

such a crass statement on her arrival in Australia was an insult to Amelie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova, who have risen to the top of the game in her absence.

They are the new winning breed. They are tall and hit the ball just as hard as the Williams sisters, if not harder. Coming through are Jelena Jankovic, Nicole Vaidisova and Ana Ivanovic, who possess similar firepower and just need a little more experience.

There is so much more depth to the women’s game nowadays. No longer do we disregard the first week of a Grand Slam as a warm-up for the real confrontations that are to come.

I still don’t expect too many upsets before the quarter-finals, but neither do I expect Serena Williams, currently the world’s 81st-ranked player, with eight Americans above her in the rankings, to be in the mix at the sharp end of the tournament."

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