Here's a quote by Jon Wertheim that I thought might be interesting:
Question:I've heard a lot of people complain that American TV's coverage of the French Open seemed to concentrate almost exclusively on American players, especially on the men's side. I'm sure that the TV networks would suggest people prefer watching U.S. players, and the popularity of women's tennis (as opposed to men's) in the U.S. would seem to prove this. But is it a vicious circle? Is there little coverage of foreign players because there is no interest in them, or no interest because there is little coverage?
—Craig Michaelson, Portsmouth, England
Agree, agree, a thousand times agree. The vast majority of people who watch tennis at noon on a Tuesday (on a cable network, no less) are going to be serious, well-informed fans. It is an insult to show them, say, James Blake playing Taylor Dent or Capriati beating some qualifier when infinitely better matches are going on. It's totally a vicious cycle (or a "viscous cycle," as Serena called it last week.) The networks and USTA suits conspire to shove Harkleroad and the like down our throats; then, when superior players like Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova make the latter rounds of tournaments, viewers tune out because "unknown foreigners" are playing. I should add that Sports Illustrated is guilty of this, too. I know that if Agassi or the Williams sisters make the final, my story will get more space than if -- just to pick two names at random -- Ferrero and Henin-Hardenne win.
Here's some advice we could all stand to follow: SELL THE TENNIS. If you just do the honest thing and cover the most compelling tennis (nationality and personality of the players be damned), it's best in the long run. You might sacrifice ratings in the short term -- why are you giving me Gonzalez and Coria when Agassi is playing? -- but it is imperative to impress upon Americans fans that players who happen to hail from other countries are worth watching.