Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Seoul, South Korea
The Problem With Tennis
The Problem With Tennis
People sure like getting mad at the Williams sisters. First it was that their games were too reckless, that they'd never evolve into tennis champions because they lacked the discipline needed to capture Grand Slams. (There was also the bit about them playing too few tournaments, remember that?) Then Serena won a Grand Slam, and it was poor, poor Venus, she's been surpassed by her kid sister, how's she gonna cope? Then Venus herself won and won and won, and then it was poor Serena-but wait, now Serena has won three Slams in a row. Over Venus. So now it's poor Venus again-who, we're told, was a little dour after losing in the U.S. Open final, and now wants a little time off. Imagine that. Fax machine breaks down in my office, and folks want a little time off.
People get mad at the Williamses because they don't hang out off the court with the other players on the tennis tour. That's understandable, since the only thing real tennis fans care about more than good tennis is making sure everyone on the tour gets along with each other off the court. Why just the other day, my father and I were having a long conversation about whether or not Anastasia Myskina and Magdalena Maleeva get along off the court.
People also think that Venus and Serena care too much about careers in fashion, and that's also understandable, because if you spend a lot of time around young women in their early 20's, the last thing they think about is fashion. People gripe that the outfits that Venus and Serena wear are too risqué. The Williamses should understand: If you're going to get ahead in this country, the last thing you want to be is a young woman in risqué clothing.
People get mad at the Williams parents. But they've always been mad at the Williams parents, especially the dad, Richard Williams. Remember - "That Richard Williams, he's crazy, he doesn't know the first thing about tennis, he needs to get them a real coach." Women's tennis has a proud tradition of stable parenting, of course, and Richard Williams must be the craziest know-nothing-about-tennis who's ever had two daughters ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the world. People even seem to think it's crazy that Richard Williams now wanders around the tennis court with a big camera, taking photographs of his daughters. And it's true. Whenever I go to a Little League game, the last thing I want to see is parents taking photographs of their kids.
Now the big complaint is that Venus and Serena are too dominant. True again. Women's tennis has prospered because it never had dominant champions-except for Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills Moody, Alice Marble, Pauline Betz, Margaret duPont, Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis.
There's also the grievance that the Williams' Grand Slam showdowns are too boring. True: Their matches haven't exactly been triple tie-break nail-biters. What's interesting is how people explain the lack of suspense in the Williams-Williams jousts. There was the claim that the matches may have been fixed by Richard Williams-a neat charge, since no one has ever produced a shred of evidence. Then there's the belief that Serena and Venus like each other too much to be blood-lustily competitive with each other on the court. That's a shame-sisters liking each other too much to want to kill each other.
The solution, of course, is for Venus and Serena to move to the men's tour, and the women's tour could free up space for exciting competitions between Daja Bedanova and Silvia Farina Elia. But wait: Haven't male tennis players complained that the Williams sisters couldn't compete with men? Maybe Venus and Serena should start thinking more about careers in fashion.
Teacher on Walkabout
Kiss My Kimchi
Surving in Seoul South Korea since 2007