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Mrs. Peel
Apr 1st, 2007, 06:25 AM
Excellent article and spot on about what great champions Serena and Justine are based on their mental fortitude alone. :lol: @ Richard running to coach Serena and she in turn ignoring him.

I just love this pictue of them at the net.

I had great respect for Justine before the start of this match. I really thought that Serena was a goner this morning. She is such a powerhouse in her own right. She's the real deal. Even though she lost today, it is apparent why she is #1 in the world.

http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/columns/story?columnist=desimone_bonnie&id=2820384

Serena solves Henin, on her own, in final



KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- It would have been hard to find two more different-looking athletes than the two women who stood on the Sony Ericsson Open awards podium Saturday, smiling and chit-chatting, the old rusty hatchet apparently buried.
If you were seeing them for the first time, which car would you take off the lot for a three-hour drive, the flashy, broad-shouldered sports utility vehicle or the nifty low-to-the-ground sports car? Both Serena Williams and Justine Henin are champions, with superbly engineered games that bear little resemblance to each other.
http://assets.espn.go.com/photo/2007/0331/ten_a_williams_275.jpg
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Serena Williams, left, lost the first seven games of the final before rallying to beat Justine Henin.



One thing they obviously share is pride in their psychological fortitude, which is why the final didn't feature any third-party intervention in the form of on-court coaching, the WTA experiment that began last fall and is continuing this season up until the French Open.
Williams recognizes this for the made-for-TV sideshow it is and calls a coach only when her opponent does, as a sort of mild spoof on leveling the playing field. A family visit -- why not? She's done some professional acting and no doubt appreciates the theatrical impact of a cameo by her father or her sister, both of whom served as coaches during this event.
Henin, who has worked with coach Carlos Rodriguez since she was 14 years old, expresses something close to contempt for the concept. "I think I'm old enough now to know what I have to do on the court," she said. "I don't need [Rodriguez] beside me to tell me. I know what I have to do.
"I didn't see a lot of top players using it. Maybe for players that are not as high ranked, maybe they need it, but I don't think it helps the players themselves."
In fact, most of these on-court consultations have amounted to rather banal pep talks. If ever there was a situation that seemed to call for that, it was when Williams lost the first set at love -- only the fourth time in her career she's been the hole in the bagel.
Richard Williams made his way down from the stands, notebook in hand. He stood at the mouth of the tunnel looking expectantly at his daughter, but Serena stared straight ahead, writing her own script.
"I'm all about competing," she said later. "That's the beauty of the game, is to figure it out by yourself. You know, you're down 6-0, you're down two match points and you're able to come back. And I was able to do it on my own, not by calling out my coach.
"That's what tennis to me is all about. It's about you versus the other player, nothing else."
On-court coaching has been touted as a TV-friendly spectacle, another way to build personalities for the casual fan. But isn't it more revealing and engaging to watch an athlete manage herself as Williams did Saturday?
The mid-match comeback is truly an impenetrable process anyway for those of us who have never tried to collect ourselves while in pain, or humiliated, or baffled, sitting alone in front of a packed stadium. That observed mystique is far more engaging than hearing a coach tell a player to relax, or move their feet.
Many players, male and female, oppose on-court coaching on the grounds of tradition. Andre Agassi probably best summed up that constituency at his farewell press conference last year.
"You're out there alone," he said. "You're playing a sport that requires you to problem-solve. It requires you to do it in somewhat of an emotional state. It's a bit of life there. You learn to trust yourself and you learn to push yourself."

"… you're down 6-0, you're down two match points and you're able to come back. And I was able to do it on my own, not by calling out my coach. That's what tennis to me is all about. It's about you versus the other player, nothing else." -- Serena Williams



But there's another subtext, and Henin's acerbic assessment addressed it: the raging gender stereotypes raised when coaches parachute into a match. It sends the message that women need their hands held, and men do not. That perception is further strengthened by the fact that women's coaches are overwhelmingly male.
Women begin playing tennis at a high level when they're still young girls. Too many of them have been tethered to oafish characters while they're learning the game. Henin is not one of them; she has grown up under Rodriguez' tutelage, and he has given her the ego-tools she needs to be a self-sufficient competitor.
"The goal of Carlos is I take a little of my own responsibilities on the court," Henin said before the final. "So it wouldn't help me if he comes to me at the end of the set and give me another solution, I have to find it by myself."
Mental toughness, as Williams said Saturday, often springs from a person's experience off the court. She was probably referring to her own experience growing up in Compton. Henin, raised halfway around the world, has had her own personal challenges. These women, a world No. 1 and a former world No. 1 who wants to reclaim her place, are well-prepared professionals, not baby birds craning their necks up from the nest and waiting for a few morsels during set breaks.
At a time when all four Grand Slams have agreed to dole out equal prize money to men and women, on-court coaching is a regressive step, as unnecessary and inappropriate as the fishnet-and-stiletto clad dancers who provided pre-match entertainment in Miami. Tennis players deserve better than to be treated as damsels in distress.
Bonnie DeSimone is a freelancer who contributes frequently to ESPN.com.

formulaferrari
Apr 1st, 2007, 06:37 AM
Good point by Henin about the gender issues. Never thought of that one.

ZeroSOFInfinity
Apr 1st, 2007, 06:50 AM
Wonder what Maria and Yuri have in response to this.....

By the way, that should be the "WTA Picture of The Year" winner (if there ever is one) :yeah:

shirgan
Apr 1st, 2007, 06:59 AM
I love these two players :yeah:

amazing personalities

In The Zone
Apr 1st, 2007, 07:24 AM
I have been against on-court coaching all along. It's so degrading. Get off the Sharapova-TV-exposure-bandwagon, WTA! I also feel that Serena did not call Richard so as to not look weak in front of Justine. These girls really butted heads today, it was a great fight and display of personality. I want both girls to be well-rested and prepared for the French and Wimbledon, it'll be great to see those two do battle on those surfaces.

fufuqifuqishahah
Apr 1st, 2007, 07:25 AM
this whole TV-FRIENDLY thing for on-court coaching hasn't worked. half the time they dont show what happens, and when they do show the footage, its usually done half-baked and retarded.

acetoace
Apr 1st, 2007, 07:31 AM
Excellent Article!!

On court coaching is an aberration that only serve to promote mediocrity over qualitative play and on-court thinking by individual players.
Why did this came about in the first place?

Look closely and you will find that the WTA and the Sharapova camp are the parties responsible for this mess. Prior to Sharapova coming to the scene, this problem was never on the table. Players and coaches alike were more about upholding the integrity of the sport.

However, as the hype that was built around Maria had to be sustained by any means possible even if that means on-court coaching, the WTA hype machine in coordination with the media, resorted to protect Maria by piloting a rule she and her camp can exploit. Haven't we on many occassions witness what Yuri does all the time in the stands since 2004? Well, since the WTA would swallow any dirt dished to them by the POVA camp (their supposed "IT" player), the WTA had to sign on to the BS........hence, what we have now.

In sum, just examine the position of the camps who are opposed to this travesty and the position of the camps that are supporting it and you'll get my drift........

terjw
Apr 1st, 2007, 09:47 AM
this whole TV-FRIENDLY thing for on-court coaching hasn't worked. half the time they dont show what happens, and when they do show the footage, its usually done half-baked and retarded.

I agree - and when they do show it you either can't hear what is said or it's in a different language that you can't understand or both. If Larry Scott has any sense he'll drop the whole experiment as soon as he can. Not one of his brightest ideas.

You know I also follow some women's golf on the LPGA. There with most girls - the male caddy lines the girl up for her shot telling her exactly where to stand. Tells her exactly how the putts are going to break and what she should do etc. etc. Jeez I think why don't they just tell the women to stand aside and let the male caddies just play all the dammn shots themselves. But you know a few of the women - like Annika Sorenstam - make their own mind up and only ask their caddy when she wants to. And look how she's done in her career - she dominated the game between 2001 - 2005 And she had more wins in the 90's than any other player. So women's golf could take a lesson from tennis here. Because the best players seem to get better results in both sports when they work it out for themselves.

Mileen
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:13 AM
Thanks, great and interesting read!

laurie
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:21 AM
Thank you for posting this very interesting article.

terjw
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:21 AM
Excellent Article!!

On court coaching is an aberration that only serve to promote mediocrity over qualitative play and on-court thinking by individual players.
Why did this came about in the first place?

Look closely and you will find that the WTA and the Sharapova camp are the parties responsible for this mess. Prior to Sharapova coming to the scene, this problem was never on the table. Players and coaches alike were more about upholding the integrity of the sport.

However, as the hype that was built around Maria had to be sustained by any means possible even if that means on-court coaching, the WTA hype machine in coordination with the media, resorted to protect Maria by piloting a rule she and her camp can exploit. Haven't we on many occassions witness what Yuri does all the time in the stands since 2004? Well, since the WTA would swallow any dirt dished to them by the POVA camp (their supposed "IT" player), the WTA had to sign on to the BS........hence, what we have now.
........

Naa - Load of :bs: if you believe that this was orchestrated by Maria and Yuri. It's nothing to do with her. This was all about a half-baked Larry Scott idea trying to copy the ATP and make "good television" and making the players "more fan friendly" :rolleyes:

Mind you - they should get tougher with Yuri though. Evict him if necessary if he tries to illegally coach. But I doubt that on court coaching does her any good anyway.

Ben.
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:51 AM
does anyone know if there are going to be any more tournaments that are going to have court coaching? hope this year's miami is the last one.

mauresmofan
Apr 1st, 2007, 11:08 AM
Yes I agree with Henin - they should have to solve it by themselves and she'll never use the system because it undermines her ability to figure it out. I like how Serena didn't use it for the final. Let's hope for more finals from those 2!

Hashim.
Apr 1st, 2007, 11:20 AM
on court coaching isn't that good..

volta
Apr 1st, 2007, 11:24 AM
does anyone know if there are going to be any more tournaments that are going to have court coaching? hope this year's miami is the last one.

till RG all Tier I and Tier II gonna have it

i agree with both of them it's just plain stupid and im glad that Rena didn't use it even though she lost the first one 6-0 :worship:

dania
Apr 1st, 2007, 11:34 AM
:clap2: :clap2: :clap2: I have more respect for these ladies right now!
Henin is right,this only gives more ammunition to the detractors of female tennis,it`s a useless rule that only makes the players look like puppets.

tennisbum79
Apr 1st, 2007, 01:03 PM
Bravo Henin!

lecciones
Apr 1st, 2007, 01:36 PM
I agree that coaching should not be done during matches.

sweetpeas
Apr 1st, 2007, 01:42 PM
I agree that coaching should not be done during matches.
__________________

So true?