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View Full Version : Journalists Arguing Over Venus/Serena Final


CC
Jun 9th, 2002, 01:19 AM
That is the impression I get when I read this article. The author has a very defensive tone, and he's basically saying that it's only the non-US press that are critical of the match. Read on:


The Serena-Venus final: an on-court defense


By Matthew Cronin
********************




Susan Mullane
Camerawork USA, Inc.
FROM ROLAND GARROS – If you were around the press room on Saturday after Serena Williams 7-5 6-3 thrashing of her older sister, Venus, in the final and listened to what many of the non-U.S. press had to say, you would have thought that the Sisters Sledgehammer had just staged the worst performance since Natasha Zvereva was double-bagled by Steffi Graf here in 1988.

And I mean, staged, not played naturally.


EUROS QUESTION COMPETITIVENESS, BUT TR.NET DOESN'T
One Euro paper reportedly began its story with the headline "The Death of Women's Tennis," because it is the writer's contention that the Williamses will never play a high-quality match against each other and that because they are supremely talented they will likely play many more important finals against each other. Since the Roland Garros final was at least a 25 percent improvement in the U.S. Open final, it's hard to find much weight behind that argument. What would make sense is to believe that the more they play each other, the easier it will be come to dispense of sibling protectionism once the first ball is struck. Serena believes that and since she followed through with every promise she made over the past two weeks, I'm inclined to believe.

A group of Southern Europeans contended that Venus laid down for Serena, because there was no way that the four-time Grand Slam champ could have come off the court with only a handful of winners.

Oh, yes there is, because although Venus has not gotten the yips on her first serve in quite a while, she spent much of 1998 and 1999 getting the elbow on her serve, which is why Lindsay Davenport used to own her. Venus was nervous because she knew that Serena was playing better than she was coming into the match and knew if she didn't serve extremely well, she'd lose the contest. Consequently, she served terribly, Serena munched on her second serves and she went down. When Venus' base (her serve) is gone, she always struggles. And when she's up against a player as good as Serena, she's bound to start questioning herself.

VENUS SHEDS TEARS
But that does not mean that both women didn't fight – they did – and that there was no intrigue to the match. That does not mean that Serena didn't play beautifully in closing out the match, or that Venus felt like it was time for Serena to get another Slam title when it was her that was facing in the final. Venus did cry a little after losing and those were not fake tears. She was seriously disappointed in her play and anyone who has covered her for a fair amount of time and spends some time watching her facial expressions would know that.

Serena simply has played better tennis than Venus has since early March, snaring four titles and only losing three matches. She put in the work on clay during April and May and was riding high after taking out the reeling Jennifer Capriati. Her forehand was a bigger weapon during the fortnight, her backhand just as good, her return much more lethal and her serve more consistent. Plus, she's faster.

Sure, Venus had a psychological edge coming into the match, but Serena had stated loud and clear over the past two weeks that she wasn't going to going to go into a deep freeze against anyone anymore. Wasn't that pretty obvious when she wiped Venus out in Miami?


The final was not of the highest quality, but never lacked drama, not when the two of the world's biggest serves were being broken constantly, not when Venus jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the first set, or when Venus climbed back to 3-4 in the second set. You didn't really know the match was over until Serena jumped on Venus in the last game and that's what drama is all about.

Now, on a scale of 1 to 10 with the Graf-Seles 1995 U.S. Open final being a 10 for drama and quality, the Williams-Williams Roland Garros version rates about a 4. But at least when they play, there's a tremendous amount of interest leading up to the match all over the globe, which cannot be said of tomorrow's men's final, even if we tennis aficionados can't wait for Al Costa to whack his first inside-out forehand.

The bet here is that by 2004, a Venus-Serena final will be as well-played as any women's match we've seen in the past decade.

tennischick
Jun 9th, 2002, 01:29 AM
Sister act stutters again

Straight sets for Serena

JonHenderson at Roland Garros
Sunday June 9, 2002
The Observer

To Serena the spoils, but episode eight of Williams v Williams once again failed to fulfil the high expectations placed in the meetings between the American sisters.

Twenty-year-old Serena beat 21-year-old Venus 7-5, 6-3 on a bright and blustery afternoon to become the 2002 French Open champion, but the contest fell some way short of answering those critics who dismiss their matches as family charades directed by their father Richard. Those hoping that the red clay of the Roland Garros centre court would stage a red-blooded contest were sadly disappointed.

Even so, it would be churlish not to salute the achievement of the sisters, particularly Serena, who was collecting her second grand slam crown having won the 1999 US Open. She now moves on to Wimbledon with every prospect of becoming the first player since Steffi Graf in 1996 to add the grass-court game's greatest prize to the premier clay-court championship.

The conspiracy theorists surely underestimate the difficulties that two sisters as palpably close as the Williamses have in giving full vent to their competitive drive in matches against each other.

The closeness of the relationship between the sisters, who share a home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and are the two youngest of five female siblings, is never more evident than at the end of their matches when it's hard not to feel you are intruding on a moment of private communion.

On this occasion, Serena, having beaten her sister for only the third time in their eight meetings, stood for a moment in quiet disbelief before moving to the net to wrap Venus in a warm embrace. Venus then emphasised that this was very much a family occasion by going to the stands to collect a camera from a friend, before joining the press photographers shooting the presentation of the trophy to Serena.

Valiantly, Serena attempted to address the crowd, who had found it hard to get behind either player in an error-strewn contest, in French. But after a few sentences she sensibly reverted to her mother tongue and thanked Venus 'for supporting me the whole way and being the best sister in the whole world'.

Richard Williams, as usual, did not come to Paris, but his estranged wife, Oracene, was in the VIP enclosure and beamed an indulgent smile -- as a mother should - as her daughters collected their prizes. There was a cheque for £475,300 for Serena and one for £237,650 for Venus.

But it had hardly been a contest to relish with both players noticeably unable to give of their best. In the 21 games, there were 13 breaks of serve with Venus holding only three times in what must have been one of the of direst serving performances in a grand slam final.

Venus, who regains the world number-one ranking after this tournament, with Serena also overtaking Jennifer Capriati to move into second place (as foretold by père Williams many Florida moons ago), had the more straightforward passage to the final, not dropping a set and comfortably mastering the one opponent who might have upset her, the sixth seed Monica Seles.

Serena, on the other hand, contrived to drop a set against the 17-year-old Russian qualifier Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round and then came through a drainingly competitive semi-final against Capriati, who, characteristically, gave up her title only after a monumental scrap.

Venus, though, looked like the one who had been put through the wringer in the earlier rounds as she let slip two doubles faults in the first game to drop serve straightaway. After falling behind 2-0, she did manage to rally for a 4-2 lead but it was her only period of dominance in the match.

Not only was her serve not working, but her groundstrokes also lacked their usual depth and penetration. Serena played the best tennis of the match to jump into a 3-0 lead at the start of the second set and, although she wobbled slightly to see her lead cut to 4-3, Venus produced a suitably incompetent service game to close out the match.

Even though it was an all-American final, this year's French Open has demonstrated the extraordinary strength in depth of the women's game in Europe, particularly eastern Europe, where the fall of the totalitarian regimes has not left sport in the same dilapidated condition as some other sectors that were formerly state-sponsored. Now, a combination of central funding and private enterprise, attracted by sport's huge financial possibilities, has made Europe the game's powerhouse.

Of the last 32 in the women's singles in Paris, 21 were from Europe, including four Russians (none of them Anna Kournikova) and three Slovakians. Perhaps the most exciting of these is Daniela Hantuchova, a 19-year-old from Bratislava in Slovakia, who dropped only 13 games in winning her first three matches - fewer than Capriati - before succumbing to the wiles of Seles.

Hantuchova, a statuesque 5ft 11in, took a set off Venus Williams at this year's Australian Open - 'She makes you realise the places where you have to work a little bit harder,' said an admiring Venus - and easily beat Martina Hingis in the final in Indian Wells in March.

If there is a player among the rising generation capable of preventing a Williams oligarchy dominating the first decade of the 21st century then Hantuchova seems most likely to be the one.

tennischick
Jun 9th, 2002, 01:32 AM
Serena beats Venus to claim French Open title
08 June 2002

By Sports.com's MARK DOYLE

Serena Williams claimed her first French Open title after beating her older sister Venus 7-5, 6-3 on Saturday.

Serena beat sister Venus to win the French Open (Reuters)
Serena added to her 1999 US Open victory after a match fraught with unnecessary errors as both sisters struggled to find rhythm in a nervous final.

Venus, the reigning US Open and Wimbledon champion was guilty of double-faulting nine times and committing 47 unforced errors proving yet again that an all Williams final is hardly a thrilling affair.

It was the first time two sisters had featured in a Roland Garros final and the slower clay surface suited the younger sister better as she upped the ante to win four consecutive games and come from behind to clinch the first set.

The second set was a less cagey affair as Serena powered to a 6-3 victory to win the Championship in 91 minutes.

It was to be revenge for Venus' US Open victory in which Serena was emphatically beaten 6-2, 6-4 last year.

There were mixed emotions for Serena who is likely to be named world number two behind Venus when the world rankings are announced on Monday.

"It's a dream come true, I can't believe it. I had been waiting for a grand slam for so long," Serena said.

"It's a bitter sweet victory because it comes against Venus."

Venus shook off the disappointment of defeat immediately after the match by laughing and joking with photographers as she took pictures of her sister revelling in the post-game glory.

"I'm disappointed but also happy because Serena won. I will now try to share her pleasure," she commented.

CC
Jun 9th, 2002, 02:02 AM
The Observer (the second article) is a European paper I take it? Maybe Brittish? I'm not sure, but there is obviously a resentful tone. Then the author admits to US dominance in the final, but mentions Europe's "prospects." They were definitely arguing over the match.

Richie77
Jun 9th, 2002, 05:51 AM
I agree with Matthew Cronin (who wrote the first article). The European journalists are being a little snooty.

Cronin's article seemed to acknowledge that the final wasn't going to be a classic (and it wasn't), but as time goes on, all-Williams finals will get better, which they will:

What would make sense is to believe that the more they play each other, the easier it will be come to dispense of sibling protectionism once the first ball is struck. Serena believes that and since she followed through with every promise she made over the past two weeks, I'm inclined to believe.

That's what I've been thinking all along.

Meanwhile, as for Jon Henderson at The Observer, I liked how he tried to cover his butt with the following statement:

Even so, it would be churlish not to salute the achievement of the sisters, particularly Serena, who was collecting her second grand slam crown having won the 1999 US Open. She now moves on to Wimbledon with every prospect of becoming the first player since Steffi Graf in 1996 to add the grass-court game's greatest prize to the premier clay-court championship.

This of course coming after the following statement:

To Serena the spoils, but episode eight of Williams v Williams once again failed to fulfil the high expectations placed in the meetings between the American sisters.

Twenty-year-old Serena beat 21-year-old Venus 7-5, 6-3 on a bright and blustery afternoon to become the 2002 French Open champion, but the contest fell some way short of answering those critics who dismiss their matches as family charades directed by their father Richard. Those hoping that the red clay of the Roland Garros centre court would stage a red-blooded contest were sadly disappointed.

C'mon, Jon. We are still relatively early on in the Venus-Serena rivalry. I think it'll still take a few more matches between V&S before they're fully comfortable playing each other.

And bravo, Mr. Cronin, for recognizing that. If I see his byline on an article again, I'll be sure to read it.

Brian Stewart
Jun 9th, 2002, 03:04 PM
Well, Cronin's article makes up somewhat for his "thuggish" reference from earlier in the tournament.

What gets me is, in many of the articles throughout the fortnight, writers tried to denigrate the quality of the women's play by including references to the number of service breaks. How the hell are service breaks indicative of bad play? Quite the reverse I should say. It means both players have a shot at winning every single point.

Diamond
Jun 9th, 2002, 04:25 PM
What else is new.

tennischick
Jun 9th, 2002, 04:45 PM
it's bec they don't understand the difference between men's and women's tennis and judge them by the same standard. a break of service means a whole lot more for the men than it does for the women. some of these tennis writers seem not to know this. makes you wonder how someone gets qualified to write about the game! many writers seem to be sports writers assigned to the "sports desk", so and may not really give a crap about tennis.

Originally posted by Brian Stewart
Well, Cronin's article makes up somewhat for his "thuggish" reference from earlier in the tournament.

What gets me is, in many of the articles throughout the fortnight, writers tried to denigrate the quality of the women's play by including references to the number of service breaks. How the hell are service breaks indicative of bad play? Quite the reverse I should say. It means both players have a shot at winning every single point.