This was taken from the current issue of tennis magazine in the US on chris everts page
First, the good news: As the 2002 season unfolds, the Sanex WTA Tour looks very strong. The players are more athletic (the Williams sisters get much of the credit for that), and there are a lot more good ones. It's no longer just Chris vs. Martina or Steffi vs. Monica. Now you've got the Williamses and Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis at the top, with Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin nipping at their heels. That's good for the fans and good for the sport. And with TV contracts in place for at least another few years, the game is on firm financial footing.
Another plus: As of January 1, the tour has a new ranking system, one which gives added weight to the Grand Slams. Did we ever need that! My gut feeling has always been that to be No. 1 in the world, you should have to win at least one Slam. And let's face it: Lindsay (left) finishing the year on top, without having won a major, just didn't feel right -- even to her. The new system, with the Slams now worth twice as many points as the Ericsson Open and Indian Wells, and the nine Tier 1 events a shade below that, should help address the problem.
Now, the not-so-good news:
Clearly, the women's tour suffers from a lack of leadership. And I'm not talking about the new CEO, Kevin Wulff, and his people. I'm talking about the players themselves. I'm talking about all the late pullouts, and lack of camaraderie, and lack of loyalty. Those things need to be addressed, and only the players themselves can address them.
I know it's a different game today. When I was playing, you rarely had a 'real' match until the quarters or semis. Now, with all the depth on the tour, every match can be tough, so players have to train harder. This leads to more mental and physical exhaustion, which leads to injuries, which leads to pullouts.
What to do? I think the players need to get themselves in a room together and say, listen, maybe we do need to cut down on the number of tournaments. Or hey, it's true that the rankings don't give the majors enough weight, and maybe we need to be more vocal about it.
I remember playing Billie Jean in the final of the Philadelphia tournament back in the '70s. I beat her handily -- 6-0, 6-4, I think -- but it wasn't until later that I found out she'd been utterly exhausted on the court. And why? Because she'd been in New York City all day meeting with tour sponsors, had taken a train back, and had gotten into Philly just an hour before the match.
Now that's leadership.
Personally, I'd like to see Lindsay continue to demonstrate her leadership skills. She's got a lot of common sense, a good pulse on many of these issues, and I think the players and the press and the fans would listen to her if she spoke.
I know I'd listen.