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Spice
May 16th, 2012, 03:33 AM
Serena provides lone bright spot as WTA stumbles through Madrid
Story Highlights
The WTA side of Madrid was tainted by a lack of TV coverage and attendance
Even the more intriguing women's matchups produced less than compelling results
Always a welcome sight, Serena Williams at her best was WTA's saving grace



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Serena Williams dropped Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka on her way to the Madrid title.
DOMINIQUE FAGET/Getty Images
There's nothing like a command performance from Serena Williams to put contemporary women's tennis in perspective. Charging through the field in Madrid, completely dismantling top-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the final, Williams was a superior athlete at the top of her game, demonstrating once again why she belongs in any discussion of the all-time greats.
Good thing, too. This tournament needed her in the worst way.
As much as the blue clay courts dominated the headlines, complete with boycott threats from Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, this was a discouraging event for the WTA. When Djokovic said the transition to Rome's clay courts felt like "paradise," he certainly spoke for most everyone on the women's side.
Right off the bat, the women's draw was a complete mystery to television viewers. Tennis Channel aired men's play exclusively until the women's quarterfinals on Friday, and until that point, there wasn't a highlight, a glance at the draw, or any hint that women were even playing in Madrid.
It's true that ESPN3 aired a few of the early-week women's matches, using tournament-provided video and audio, but few fans were aware of that, and from this point of view, there's nothing fresh or satisfying about watching sports on a computer screen. Not when you should be relaxing on your living-room sofa.
This was the explanation from a spokesman at Tennis Channel: "It's a resource issue, and another example of why we've fought so hard for TC to be treated like Golf Channel and other single-sports networks that aren't stifled by limited-audience sports tiers. We have the rights to show both the men's and women's matches in Madrid, and for this event we use the ATP and WTA feeds. The difference is that the ATP offers a fully produced feed, with graphics and on-air talent, and the WTA doesn't. This means that when we take the WTA feed, we have to produce it (i.e., get it ready for air) by adding graphics, music, a play-by-play person and analyst, etc., which we don't have to do with the men's feed. As an independent network with limited resources, we weren't able to air as many women's matches as we'd like."
This is an issue that needs to be resolved between the WTA and Tennis Channel, because a number of intriguing matches -- including Azarenka-Ana Ivanovic, Williams-Caroline Wozniacki, Sam Stosur-Christina McHale and Francesca Schiavone-Varvara Lepchenko -- fell on the dark side. At a tournament of this magnitude, ranking just below the majors in significance, that's just not acceptable.
A number of women, including Stosur and Azarenka, made it clear that Madrid's clay courts were slippery and inappropriate, given that the tournament is such an important warmup for the French Open. What should concern the WTA more, though, is the attendance. As the first balls were struck in two matches of the highest order -- Serena-Sharapova and Serena-Azarenka -- the stands were shockingly vacant. You could have stashed all of those fans into the bleachers of a collegiate stadium.
One reason, truth be told, is that "shrieking" is not being tolerated by the general public. That goes for viewers turning down the sound on their television sets, as well as on-site fans who simply won't put up with Sharapova's or Azarenka's inexcusable howling. And the scene in Madrid hardly represents an isolated state of affairs. We've seen a dropoff in WTA attendance at a number of big tournaments in America, including day matches at the U.S. Open, and this has to be a matter of concern within the Tour's executive offices.
Madrid also suffered from a lack of compelling matches. Just when McHale looked capable of making a major statement, Stosur blitzed her 6-0 in the third set. Wozniacki vanished after winning the first set against Serena, and tour observers mocked her ostensibly pointless on-court coaching sessions with her father, Piotr. Serena simply blasted Sharapova off the court, 6-1, 6-3. Venus Williams was similarly dispatched by Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 6-1. Not that anyone should be terribly surprised at this point, but once again, Agnieszka Radwanska had no answers against her ongoing nemesis, Azarenka, in the semifinals. Then came the sight of the world's No. 1 player looking thoroughly outclassed, as usual, by Serena.
As the draw progressed, Serena wasn't just up against miniscule crowds, blue clay and an extremely strong field, but a Spanish coach, as well. Ricardo Sanchez, who has coached Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic in the past and now works with Nadia Petrova, decided that both of the Williams sisters "do not want to play tennis. They compete now just to make the London Games. They are more into celebrity and fashion."
Sanchez claimed that if Serena played a normal amount of tour events, "She would be the best in the world. But the Williams are like sprinters -- they cannot stand the long rallies, and if you get four balls back, they can't play. When you go from there, they die."
My goodness. You're really not sure whether to laugh at Sanchez or toss him into a nearby river -- a really cold one, the better to restore his perspective. But enough of all that. Serena's career does not need defending, nor does her lifestyle or competitive spirit. She has qualities that Sanchez never could instill in Petrova, Jankovic or Wozniacki, for they cannot be taught.
So as the women move on to Rome, get out the trash can for Madrid. Throw out blue clay, forever; it's not "visionary," it carries no aesthetic value, and it's phony. Dismiss the sight of that empty stadium, look for future improvements in the television coverage, and forget the sight of the disconsolate Azarenka.


Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/news/20120515/serena-williams-madrid-wta/#ixzz1uzqZTYdZ

tennisbum79
May 16th, 2012, 04:13 AM
Good rebuttal


As the draw progressed, Serena wasn't just up against miniscule crowds, blue clay and an extremely strong field, but a Spanish coach, as well. Ricardo Sanchez, who has coached Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic in the past and now works with Nadia Petrova, decided that both of the Williams sisters "do not want to play tennis.

They compete now just to make the London Games. They are more into celebrity and fashion."
Sanchez claimed that if Serena played a normal amount of tour events, "She would be the best in the world. But the Williams are like sprinters -- they cannot stand the long rallies, and if you get four balls back, they can't play. When you go from there, they die."

My goodness. You're really not sure whether to laugh at Sanchez or toss him into a nearby river -- a really cold one, the better to restore his perspective. But enough of all that. Serena's career does not need defending, nor does her lifestyle or competitive spirit. She has qualities that Sanchez never could instill in Petrova, Jankovic or Wozniacki, for they cannot be taught.

duhcity
May 16th, 2012, 04:32 AM
This is an issue that needs to be resolved between the WTA and Tennis Channel, because a number of intriguing matches -- including Azarenka-Ana Ivanovic, Williams-Caroline Wozniacki, Sam Stosur-Christina McHale and Francesca Schiavone-Varvara Lepchenko

http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lopd9s1mnR1qbpnt3o1_400.gif

Beat
May 16th, 2012, 08:22 AM
well, this report is an even biggger mess and sounds like it was written by a very new TF member.

Kuti Kis&Monica
May 16th, 2012, 08:47 AM
What should concern the WTA more, though, is the attendance. As the first balls were struck in two matches of the highest order -- Serena-Sharapova and Serena-Azarenka -- the stands were shockingly vacant. You could have stashed all of those fans into the bleachers of a collegiate stadium.
One reason, truth be told, is that "shrieking" is not being tolerated by the general public. That goes for viewers turning down the sound on their television sets, as well as on-site fans who simply won't put up with Sharapova's or Azarenka's inexcusable howling. And the scene in Madrid hardly represents an isolated state of affairs. We've seen a dropoff in WTA attendance at a number of big tournaments in America, including day matches at the U.S. Open, and this has to be a matter of concern within the Tour's executive offices.



Yeah, right. Empty seats because of the shrieks :rolleyes: This analysis is based on what ?

And yep, sure, there are no competitive matches at the WTA, that's why they don't show it :rolleyes: As if the broadcasters knew by advance it would be one-sided matches. BS.

Yonexforever
May 16th, 2012, 12:44 PM
Valid points but the reasons given where very silly. The Tennis Channel needs to come up with a better excuse. Y do they leave there commentators in California? Can they NOT afford a hotel room and airline tickets?
Might I add the same thing is happening so far in ROME!

Juju Nostalgique
May 16th, 2012, 12:51 PM
And they want the Olympics AGAIN!!! :rolls: Bunch of envious people! :tape:

Marc23
May 16th, 2012, 12:52 PM
A mess!

denny5576
May 16th, 2012, 01:08 PM
The author made too many conclusions contradicting the reality.
The audience of WTA is increasing every year.
If the men were playing in Madrid's morning and had the same ads like women the attendance of their matches would have been the same

HippityHop
May 16th, 2012, 01:43 PM
While it's true that the women's attendance was not great even for the latter rounds. I didn't see the stands overflowing with people on the men's side either. Especially in the early rounds.

Rolling-Thunder
May 16th, 2012, 01:58 PM
The Tennis Channel could and should just play the doggone matches. Frankly, there's no need to have commentary. The viewer is capable if watching with constant "expert" interruption. Play the satellite feed period. Or they could stream them on their website.

I've had the TC while in the USA. Great concept, but underutilized.

Yet I have to agree with the author on the WTA's continued poor administration of the game. They honestly are amateurs who don't know how to promote the game. How can't they see to it that the women's matches are available. I have ESPN360 or its online version. There were no matches, not even in replay. That's insane. If you can't show it on tv, then have it available in video.

P.S. you left out the last line of the article:
"Retain just one thing: Serena Williams at her best. There's something that stands the test of time."

barmaid
May 16th, 2012, 02:58 PM
There are valid parts of this article that are noteworthy, for instance the WTA do not have the quality of matches that the ATP provide, they are simply "superior in play" than the women's side,:worship: the fact that Serena can still destroy her opponents with one hand speaks volumes of the competitive side of the WTA (and she's 30 years old)....it's just too fluffy, too load, and to "ho-hum" to look at compared to the men's excellent high quality tennis. Yes, the blue clay was too slippery but almost all the men's matches were "nail biters" and that was the difference. Its not Serena's fault she has zero competition but the WTA suffers because of it.:sad:

Barmaid:wavey:

HippityHop
May 16th, 2012, 03:30 PM
The Tennis Channel could and should just play the doggone matches. Frankly, there's no need to have commentary. The viewer is capable if watching with constant "expert" interruption. Play the satellite feed period. Or they could stream them on their website.

I've had the TC while in the USA. Great concept, but underutilized.

Yet I have to agree with the author on the WTA's continued poor administration of the game. They honestly are amateurs who don't know how to promote the game. How can't they see to it that the women's matches are available. I have ESPN360 or its online version. There were no matches, not even in replay. That's insane. If you can't show it on tv, then have it available in video.

P.S. you left out the last line of the article:
"Retain just one thing: Serena Williams at her best. There's something that stands the test of time."

I noticed that too. I thought WTF is posting the entire article and then put "read more" for two sentences? :confused:

miffedmax
May 16th, 2012, 03:39 PM
Valid points but the reasons given where very silly. The Tennis Channel needs to come up with a better excuse. Y do they leave there commentators in California? Can they NOT afford a hotel room and airline tickets?
Might I add the same thing is happening so far in ROME!

That actually validates their point about the WTA's feed not being ready for prime time. I know most of us are hardcore enough fans that we could watch (and maybe even enjoy more) a live feed of a match without commentary, but many viewers would be unsure as to who was even playing in some matches.

On the other hand, Tennis Channel's whining about not being carried by enough cable/satellite stations to have more resources--well, it's kind of your job to market your product, isn't it? :shrug:

It is ridiculous that I get the NFL, MLB, and Golf Channel all as part of my basic package, but whose fault is that? Put together a better media kit or something, don't whine about it.

LUVMIRZA
May 16th, 2012, 04:18 PM
Sounds like an article written by Serena Williams herself.

King Halep
May 16th, 2012, 04:24 PM
well, this report is an even biggger mess and sounds like it was written by a very new TF member.

us journalist