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"Asterisk" women's final big news, just not in the U.S.

By Santosh Venkataraman
SportsTicker

FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) - The term "asterisk" has always had a dubious distinction in sports.

Baseball used it when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's home run record in 1961 and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson used it in basketball to describe the San Antonio Spurs' title in the lockout-shortened season of 1999.

Saturday's all-Belgian final between Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters will be remembered the same way. Yes, Henin-Hardenne won, but Venus and Serena Williams were not present.

"I really don't think about the Williams sisters right now because because they dominated the tour for so long and they're still great champions, both of them," Henin-Hardenne said after her 7-5, 6-1 victory over Clijsters. "I think everybody hopes that they are going to come back on the tour very soon, because we want all the players, all the top ones, and we will see."

Without the injured Williams sisters, the final certainly took a hit. The duo drew such diverse fans as rap mogul P. Diddy, basketball players Marcus Camby and Allan Houston, actress Vanessa Williams and David Letterman sidekick Biff Henderson to the first prime-time final two years ago.

This year's celebrity list was considerably weaker. Who really knows exactly how to classify Carolina Rhea?

The final can also be considered an "asterisk" event for another reason - the show of total apathy by the United States for the Belgians.

Even a representative of a tournament sponsor, who was complimentary of the two finalists, inadvertently referred to Henin-Hardenne as "Christine" in the trophy ceremony.

But for a country like Belgium - roughly the size of Maryland - the U.S. Open final was indeed a big moment. Belgium became the third country to have both participants in the women's final, joining Australia and the U.S.

Of course, it was shortly past two in the morning in Belgium when this final began. The French Open final between the two drew large crowds on the streets throughout the country, and prime minister Guy Verhofstadt traveled to Paris to attend the match.

Belgium is an extremely diverse country, although most people are divided as Flemings or Walloons. Clijsters is from the Flemish-speaking part of the country while Henin-Hardenne is from Marloie, which is in the heart of the French-speaking area.

"I'll be happy to go back in Belgium," Henin-Hardenne said."It's been six weeks here in the States. I've really enjoyed it, but I'm going to have a new apartment when I get back to Belgium."

Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters are sporting icons in Belgium. At the U.S. Open, however, it was quite a different story, as witnessed by the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, which was closer to a Carnegie Hall audience than one at a Grand Slam final.

"Maybe in a way, its normal, I think," Clijsters said. "Because I'm sure it would have been a completely different atmosphere out there today if there would have been two Americans or one American."

Although much has been made of differences between Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters and their rivalry, the Belgian public has embraced them both. The fans do not root for either player based on their ethnic backgrounds, rather for their playing style or upbringing.

Henin-Hardenne had to endure a rough childhood, losing her mother to cancer and her sister to a car accident before she was born. Clijsters is the daughter of a father who played soccer and a mother who was a gymnast, going through a more stable life in her formative years. But the country has admired both players for their on-court ferociousness.

"I think that Kim and me, we are both fighters," Henin-Hardenne said. "I hope that - I think that we represent Belgium very well."

Although the final between Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters probably will not be a lengthy story in American papers, rest assured readers of French-language Le Soir and Dutch-language Nieuwsblad will have plenty of stories about the match.

There are approximately 10 million readers in Belgium who have no complaint about this U.S. Open final - or any other involving their beloved heroines.
 

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As the cameras panned the audience, there were quite a few vacant seats in the stands. It'll be interesting to see how the audience for the Roddick final looks. I personally didn't see all of it as I had to pickup my niece from the skating rink, and didn't bother to tape the event. Hey, but, that was my own personal preference...!!!
 

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For whatever reason, Justine and Kim have just not found a huge fan base in the States like other foreign women have before them.

I think it's a shame because they are both very good tennis players. If they ever meet in a U.S. Open final again in the future, perhaps it will be a different story.
 

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"Even a representative of a tournament sponsor, who was complimentary of the two finalists, inadvertently referred to Henin-Hardenne as "Christine" in the trophy ceremony."

What a fucking ignorant bitch... If only she could be fired on the spot for making a huge mistake on international tv. I know I'd slap her.

Heh, was it even inadvertent? lol
 

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Quote from article:

The final can also be considered an "asterisk" event for another reason - the show of total apathy by the United States for the Belgians.

From the inappropriate and irreverent opening ceremony to the lack luster trophy presentation, the USTA managed to convey their total disregard for these two accomplished women. They really deserved better than that. They rose to the occassion when others would not or could not. I'm embarrassed for them having to act gracious while representatives of a whole nation were really insulting them. I'm embarrassed to have to witness it and I'm embarrassed that it seems to be O.K. with the vast majority of fans and business people connected with this event. Fortunately, they're young, resilient, and very much loved in their native Belgium.
 

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jmp - that is so true. I thought exactly the same thing. The US crowd and USTA behaved appalingly and immaturely all fortnight IMHO. I don't understand at all how Americans can be so blind-sighted in who they support. It's a sad but true fact, I hope it changes.
 

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Sonic The Hedgehog said:
"Even a representative of a tournament sponsor, who was complimentary of the two finalists, inadvertently referred to Henin-Hardenne as "Christine" in the trophy ceremony."

What a fucking ignorant bitch... If only she could be fired on the spot for making a huge mistake on international tv. I know I'd slap her.

Heh, was it even inadvertent? lol
It was a male bitch ;)
 

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If I were Justine I would have picked that trophy and slam it to his face and then ask him to reintroduce me again correctly. <joke> ;)
 

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I'll bet if you could check the ratings for the first fifteen minutes of play, they were pretty good. But the match started like it was gonna be a stinker. Kim didn't have it together at all. That cost them audience. I started out in an audience of four. One was gone by 3-0. When Kim was broken at 5-5, the other said 'she's toast' and went to bed.

Their best tennis would have been compelling, in my view. That wasn't it.
 

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Lol, what an attitude. I guess those people can really throw with their money...
 

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Unfortunately probably more Americans have heard of the two finalists than anyone has heard of those celebrities outside America.........doubt if they know that much about them in Iowa either.
 

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Again, the US media tends to hype their American players. However, most are used to the dominance of Venus and Serena, they are household names.
If there are not as many Williams-Williams finals but a Williams-Clijsters or a Williams-Justine final maybe the Belgians will become a household name.
If they had produce great tennis, I think the US crowd would have shown more emotion.
I also think their personalities are bland, Martina Hingis had another "angle" beside just tennis.
 

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Jakeev said:
For whatever reason, Justine and Kim have just not found a huge fan base in the States like other foreign women have before them.

I think it's a shame because they are both very good tennis players. If they ever meet in a U.S. Open final again in the future, perhaps it will be a different story.

I can't speak for other Americans, but here is how I see it.. Kim is amiable but uncontroversial :cool: and while Justine's got game she is duuuuuuuuuull. :tape: People love exciting sports figures period.
 

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i don't get why people say she is dull. she is very exciting. unless you more interested in screaming at linespeople and loud grunts than flowing backhands, explosive forehands, precise serves, deep returns, deft volleys, artistic lobs, delicate drop shots and masterful point construction.


oh, what a minute it's AMERICA ... style and pomp over substance and talent

:haha:
 

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Jakeev said:
For whatever reason, Justine and Kim have just not found a huge fan base in the States like other foreign women have before them.

I think it's a shame because they are both very good tennis players. If they ever meet in a U.S. Open final again in the future, perhaps it will be a different story
Because they have no charisma. They're no different of the other players. Sabatini, Hingis, Graf, Arantxa, they all had charisma abd something different about them. Inredible personalities. But Kim and Justine, they have none...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Actually, when she starts winning more, I think she will turn into this era's Martina Hingis and we all know Martina wasn't dull.
 

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Americans are a little spoilt when it comes to sporting success, so they needn't identify with foreign players.
At Wimbledon (where local success is limited to Tim reaching the semis) the stadium courts will be packed from the the first day till the last and millions more will be watching on tv; happy just to watch the world's best players, irrespective of their nationalities.
 

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Oh please like if the Open wasn't held in Belgium it wouldn't be all about the Belgians? This attitude that Americans are the only ones that favor themselves (which mind you is only the argument when we are not talking about V&S cause when they are in the mix then Americans love the underdog :rolleyes: ) is total malarky.

What happened in Antwerp? Was it all love for everyone? Did they show Venus the same respect and admiration that they showed Kim? or did they root their hearts out for their local girl? oh Yeah I forgot its ok for everyone else in the world to root on their own except Americans. When Americans do it their being big ugly arrogant Americans........:rolleyes:

That is about crowd response not about the ceramonies cause I didn't see the ceramonies I turned.
 

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Rocketta - It looks like your post shut up most of those Euro, anti-U.S. whiners.

What happened in Antwerp and Paris was an outrage.
However, Kim was very popular at Indian Wells. :rolleyes:
 
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