Re: The Gabriela Sabatini Thread!
Thanks. I'll read it now.
I found this article in a Tennis Newgroup. It was written at the time of her retirement by fan. Enjoy!
by Victoria Weiss Burns
Gabriela Sabatini is gone from professional tennis, the
suddenness of her departure overshadowed by irony as she
leaves, and remains, the most beloved and the most widely
panned player of her time. In the wake of her retirement,
the sheer volume of press spent telling us she's not worthy
of the attention is its own kind of oxymoron.
You'll excuse me, I'm sure, if I've tired quickly of the
phrase "only one Grand Slam title" offered by anyone who has
-- and always will have -- none. And the news reports all
dutifully tack on mention of her two victories at the year-
end Championship, just as dutifully leaving alone another 24
titles, as though little more than dead-ends along a greater
In fact, what Sabatini has achieved on court are not Little
League credits by most standards that apply to professional
tennis. A different set of standards has been applied to
Sabatini, every day of her career and, so far, every day of
Sabatini has been held, not to common standards of success
but, to the standards of common dreams, of desires not her
own, and a level of "potential" manufactured by the media
hype occasioning her rare combination of beauty and talent.
And, for need of some quantifiable measure, she's been held
to a standard invented by -- and achieved only by -- her
extraordinary contemporary, Steffi Graf.
Beyond the false assessments driven by shallow priority, it's
clear Sabatini's place in tennis history is as large as it is
intangible. Sabatini is one of the very best things ever to
happen to professional tennis. Her impact is unprecedented
and unequaled, and unlikely to dissipate or be duplicated any
For twelve years now, Sabatini and Graf together have lead
the WTA in forging its current place of prominence in the
sporting world. Graf did her part by winning nearly every
title there is to win, Sabatini hers by winning nearly every
heart that beats. No matter where Sabatini might appear, the
fans, the press, the world's TV cameras appear in droves to
meet her there.
Yet, as she embarks on retirement, Sabatini's enormous
contribution to the phenomenon known as 'women's tennis' has
been boiled down to a simple list of titles she didn't win,
goals she didn't meet, heights she didn't attain. Whether
print or broadcast media, whether professional talkers or
ordinary folk, tennis-correctism demands that Sabatini just
hasn't done enough for us lately.
She's an "underachiever", I hear. Her legacy is "unfulfilled
potential". To sum it up, if she's not a candidate for the
title "Greatest of All Time" there's something illegitimate
in the adoration she evokes. She's wasted her time and ours.
What all this really means is Sabatini didn't do what so many
were certain she would do, nor what they wanted her to do.
It means that press hounds, self-appointed pundits, and their
gullible public take themselves and their own hype much too
seriously. Sabatini isn't what they wanted her to be or what
they tried to make her. And they blame her for it.
If what was declared her "potential" didn't come to pass, so
be it. Failure to act out the predictions of others, or to
achieve another's goals, isn't failure in a meaningful sense.
Neither can anything of Sabatini's career be so categorized
by any but sufferers of chronic sanctimony.
Professional tennis resides in the world of entertainment, no
matter how hard we try to assign it something more noble and
profound. In that, Sabatini is unquestionably one of the
most successful and accomplished in the history of the sport.
She brought immense pleasure to millions in the simple act of
being on court and playing her style of tennis. She makes
people give a serious damn about what is otherwise a mere
ball/racquet game, and so personifies the miracle of fun.
"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" is the joy of
sport. That phrase has no meaning to bandwagon types. Their
concern is with appearances; with being seen to support the
winner at all times. They refrain from predictions for fear
of being wrong. Their 'analysis' is unfailingly steeped in
Sabatini's are the truest kind of fans -- the kind whose
favorite player is always the same after a tournament as it
is before; whose passion means the desire for victory, but
is never cheapened by dependence on it, and wasn't created by
it in the first place. In 632 of Sabatini's career matches
they were pleased as punch. In the other 189 they loved her
just the same.
It's that invincible fan loyalty that makes Sabatini both
unique and necessary in her sport. No other tennis player
commands the same unconditional devotion from so many. Hers
are the "Stand by the home team, win or lose" folks, so
typical of football, baseball, and the like, whose relative
absence in the tennis world condemns professional tennis to
its place as a secondary spectator sport.
Sabatini has been the home team for millions the world over,
for more than a decade. There is no other like her, now or
visible on the horizon, to fill that void. Winning or not,
Grand Slam titles or no, her absence is the worst news for
tennis in a good long time.