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Updated: 12:56 PM EST
COLUMN-Tennis-Too many tournaments blighting players' health
By Ossian Shine, Reuters

LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Perhaps the Williams sisters have got it right after all.
Their infrequent forays onto the merry-go-round of the professional circuit do not appear to be hampering the American siblings.

In fact, while all around them are falling to pieces physically, Venus and Serena would appear paragons of fitness and rude health.

Serena's victory at the Australian Open last month suggests she is still doing something right and, rather than limiting her chances of success, her time spent on off-court activities may in fact be saving her from the crippling injuries others are storing up for themselves.

While the Williamses have been frequently criticised for their seemingly lackadaisical approach to their schedules -- historically, neither sister has played nearly as many tournaments as their contemporaries -- it is finally sinking in that too much tennis is a bad thing.

World number one Lindsay Davenport's body gave out on her during the final of the Australian Open against Serena and she is now leading the call for a shorter season and less tennis.

"You always want your best players in every grand slam and I think something should be done -- a shorter season or cut down on the tournaments," the American said last week.

TROUBLING ASPECT

"If you look at the last few years, it's the most troubling aspect of the game."

Former world number ones Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters are also sitting on the sidelines, crippled by a surfeit of tennis.

Henin-Hardenne battled a mystery virus for most of last year and is now struggling with a knee injury.

Clijsters had wrist surgery last June and has played just one lower-tier WTA Tour tournament since.

Henin-Hardenne has joined Davenport's call. The Belgian suffered a nightmare 2004 in which she was largely bed-ridden for eight months with what had been deemed to be a mystery virus.

She now claims she was actually suffering from "burnout" -- at just 22.

"It was more than a viral infection. I think it was a burnout," she said last month.

"In 2003, I played so many matches and worked so hard that I really never stopped playing, never took a break. This kind of thing happens to all of us."

Henin-Hardenne's debilitating illness, which sapped her energy and left her constantly feeling lethargic, restricted her to just nine tournaments in a stop-start 2004.

NOT EASY

She knows it will be tough to ring in the changes, however.

"It's not easy to make a good calendar for everyone. We have to find a good way. It's not an easy situation and I totally understand it."

Prevalent as it is now, burnout is not a new phenomenon in women's tennis.

In the 1980s American players Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger were both forced into premature retirement.

Jennifer Capriati was another high-profile victim a decade later before her successful rehabilitation.

Former world number one Martina Hingis was forced out of the sport three years ago aged just 22 after a series of foot injuries.

"I think burnout is one of the biggest problems we face," she said. "I just feel if we didn't have these problems (the women's game) would be so strong."

The answer would appear to be less tennis. Until that brave decision is made, strapping and bandages will continue to be as much a part of the fabric of women's tennis as rackets and balls.



02/08/05 12:44 ET

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
 

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I remember all the people on this board who religiously hollered that the Belgians bodies and games could hold up at the top of the game with alot tourneys and that it was just the sisters who couldn't last.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Knizzle said:
I remember all the people on this board who religiously hollered that the Belgians bodies and games could hold up at the top of the game with alot tourneys and that it was just the sisters who couldn't last.
Not just peoploe on this board, but analysts and writers too, saying they were not holding up their end of the tour. They seem to be the only ones who are thinking about the tour. Notice, they are not the ones calling for a shortened season.
 
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SelesFan70 said:
:shrug: But Les Sisters are coming back from injury, too!
I think he is referring over a period of time, not just last year.

In 2001, the sisters took a lot of heat, from analysts (Carillo), writers (SI tennis writers) and players (Davenport and Capriati) because Venus only played 12 tournaments and Serena only played 10 (even though she was out for eight weks with an injury:rolleyes: ).
 

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The Williams sisters and their parents are the smartest on the tour. They recognied from the beginning what works best for them and stick to it no matter what anyone else is saying and in the long run thet have the last laugh. They know their bodies best and do what is in their best interest. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time but the more you play the more it is likely that your body will wear and tear at a faster rate depending on your body type of cours.

Anyway different strokes for different folks. As the saying goes, the race in tennis is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end. Richard may be hated by many but I admire the way he guided and stand up for his daughters and prove others wrong again. He also encouraged them to choose alternative careers in case they had to stop playing tennis at an early age. They are the only ones who at the moment could retire and would walk into something else without skipping a beat. They think long term not immediate gratification. Another thing I admire is that the sisters also live their lives in the present accordingly. They are enjoying their lives as twenty year olds should and not put off living now for later. When you get to thirty you are at a different maturity level and look forward to different things. I salute you Richard and Oracene. There are those of us who are not blinded by biases and can see a lot of positives in your family.

Other players are still trying to hold on because they have nothing to turn to after tennis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Veenut said:
The Williams sisters and their parents are the smartest on the tour. They recognied from the beginning what works best for them and stick to it no matter what anyone else is saying and in the long run thet have the last laugh. They know their bodies best and do what is in their best interest. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time but the more you play the more it is likely that your body will wear and tear at a faster rate depending on your body type of cours.

Anyway different strokes for different folks. As the saying goes, the race in tennis is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end. Richard may be hated by many but I admire the way he guided and stand up for his daughters and prove others wrong again. He also encouraged them to choose alternative careers in case they had to stop playing tennis at an early age. They are the only ones who at the moment could retire and would walk into something else without skipping a beat. They think long term not immediate gratification. Another thing I admire is that the sisters also live their lives in the present accordingly. They are enjoying their lives as twenty year olds should and not put off living now for later. When you get to thirty you are at a different maturity level and look forward to different things. I salute you Richard and Oracene. There are those of us who are not blinded by biases and can see a lot of positives in your family.

Other players are still trying to hold on because they have nothing to turn to after tennis.
Great post!!
 

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It doesn't make sense. The Williams sisters have been more not less injured. Serena was last injured as late as the YEC. Lindsay has a chronic problem. Unless you argue Justine's virus and Kim's wrist are the result of playing more you can't say playing caused their injuries. Justine's virus might have struck a tired Justine or a healthy Justine may have caught a Virus. Kim could have damaged her wrist over time or in one fluke move. Momo is injured after taking a longer break - it caused the problem, it didn't cure it. There is no evidence how much you play causes problems. How you play may and in that sense its not surprising that the tallest player with a liking for US hardcourts has a bad knee, the two most physical, fastest serving players have all sorts of injuries and the player who makes her body do the most with the least has the virus.
 

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Veenut said:
The Williams sisters and their parents are the smartest on the tour. They recognied from the beginning what works best for them and stick to it no matter what anyone else is saying and in the long run thet have the last laugh. They know their bodies best and do what is in their best interest. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time but the more you play the more it is likely that your body will wear and tear at a faster rate depending on your body type of cours.

Anyway different strokes for different folks. As the saying goes, the race in tennis is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end. Richard may be hated by many but I admire the way he guided and stand up for his daughters and prove others wrong again. He also encouraged them to choose alternative careers in case they had to stop playing tennis at an early age. They are the only ones who at the moment could retire and would walk into something else without skipping a beat. They think long term not immediate gratification. Another thing I admire is that the sisters also live their lives in the present accordingly. They are enjoying their lives as twenty year olds should and not put off living now for later. When you get to thirty you are at a different maturity level and look forward to different things. I salute you Richard and Oracene. There are those of us who are not blinded by biases and can see a lot of positives in your family.

Other players are still trying to hold on because they have nothing to turn to after tennis.
:lol:
Oh please...how old are you? enough said..
 

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fammmmedspin said:
It doesn't make sense. The Williams sisters have been more not less injured. Serena was last injured as late as the YEC. Lindsay has a chronic problem. Unless you argue Justine's virus and Kim's wrist are the result of playing more you can't say playing caused their injuries. Justine's virus might have struck a tired Justine or a healthy Justine may have caught a Virus. Kim could have damaged her wrist over time or in one fluke move. Momo is injured after taking a longer break - it caused the problem, it didn't cure it. There is no evidence how much you play causes problems. How you play may and in that sense its not surprising that the tallest player with a liking for US hardcourts has a bad knee, the two most physical, fastest serving players have all sorts of injuries and the player who makes her body do the most with the least has the virus.
Serena has only had one major injury in her career and Venus 2. The others have been minor injuries. You can't dominate the game and win 10 of 14 slams and numerous other titles over a 3 1/2 year period meeting in 6 of those slam finals and occupying both the #1 and #2 spots for nearly a year playing limited tourneys, that's unrealistic. The sisters were smart enough to pull out of tourneys to keep injuries from getting worse and focus on the Grand Slams.
 

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"She now claims she was actually suffering from "burnout" -- at just 22.

"It was more than a viral infection. I think it was a burnout," she said last month.

"In 2003, I played so many matches and worked so hard that I really never stopped playing, never took a break. This kind of thing happens to all of us."



UGH.....The answer is pick and play fewer tournaments! Don't cut the number of tournaments on the tour, the players are well within thier rights to pick and choose when they play.

How did we foster such a victim mentallity? It's always someone elses fault. When you're the best you don't have to fly all over the world to maintain your ranking.
 

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jlamire said:
:lol:
Oh please...how old are you? enough said..
Going by your response, older than you because your reply is so juvenile. In response to your question much older than seventeen, therefore I guess I can't use the "I'm only seventeen" defense. Maybe you can, then I can forgive your level of thinking.
 

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SelesFan70 said:
:shrug: But Les Sisters are coming back from injury, too!
Yes, because in 2002 and 2003 they both played fuller schedules, which led to them being at the top two positions and also led to their debilitating injuries. :shrug:
 

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Denise4925 said:
Yes, because in 2002 and 2003 they both played fuller schedules, which led to them being at the top two positions and also led to their debilitating injuries. :shrug:
Sorry, boo, but I must respectfully disagree with you on this one. In 2002, Venus played 16 tournaments and Serena played 13. If that's too much for them to handle without getting hurt, then they need to hang up their racquets. ;)
 
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fammmmedspin said:
It doesn't make sense. The Williams sisters have been more not less injured. Serena was last injured as late as the YEC.
Minor injuries that almost every player endures in such a physical sport. They've only had two major injuries between them. That was after they played a full schedule for almost two seasons and were at the top of the game.

Lindsay has a chronic problem. Unless you argue Justine's virus and Kim's wrist are the result of playing more you can't say playing caused their injuries. Justine's virus might have struck a tired Justine or a healthy Justine may have caught a Virus. Kim could have damaged her wrist over time or in one fluke move. Momo is injured after taking a longer break - it caused the problem, it didn't cure it.
How do you know Lindsay has a chronic problem? Has that been published as a fact? Lindsay played a full schedule last season and as a result, she's injured now. Justine said herself that her illness was burnout, more than a virus. A virus is more likely to attack a very tired immune system than a healthy one. If Kim's injury had been one fluke move, wouldn't they have stated that? I heard that she said herself that her wrist injury was due to overplay. Wasn't Momo No. 1 and 2? Didn't she also play a full schedule last season?

There is no evidence how much you play causes problems.
But, the professionals who play the game are saying it's so. How can you argue with that?
 

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darrinbaker00 said:
Sorry, boo, but I must respectfully disagree with you on this one. In 2002, Venus played 16 tournaments and Serena played 13. If that's too much for them to handle without getting hurt, then they need to hang up their racquets. ;)
Did you count 2003?
 

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isn't one of the main factors the change in the way rankings are calculated (i think around '96), which has encouraged players to chase points to amass the greatest total of points, rather than the prev system where players selected a reasonable amount of tourneys and the average points decided the rankings
 
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