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Venus and Serena Will Be Missed
The people in charge of women's tennis would never admit this, but the Williams sisters control the sport. If they show up for a tournament, there's an automatic buzz. If they don't, well, then you have the Indian Wells tournament this week.

The general public may not care about the event that begins today in the Southern California desert, but it's a high-profile stop for both the women and men, one of a handful ranking just below the majors in prestige. Under what is known as the Roadmap Initiative for 2009, the WTA tour has designated Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing as "Premier" events that are mandatory for all the top players.

According to the rules, failure to play will not only result in zero rankings points for the missed event, but also a fine and a suspension from the following two tournament weeks. That's a heavy price to pay, and on the surface, the sisters' absence would take them out of the Miami tournament later this month, one of their favorite events since they live in nearby Palm Beach Gardens and collectively own 8 of the last 11 titles.

But wait -- there's a way out. Players can escape the fine and suspension if they engage in "promotional activities" for the event. Since they are allowed to do so anywhere within a 125-mile radius of the tournament, they don't even have to show up in the immediate area. It's not clear how Venus and Serena will fulfill this obligation, but they won't be anywhere near Indian Wells. They haven't played the tournament since 2001, and it's unlikely they ever will.

Just to recap, Venus, then 20 years old, was scheduled to play the 19-year-old Serena in the semifinals. It would have been only their sixth career meeting, and accusations were flying (including a thinly veiled hint from fellow player Elena Dementieva) that their matches were "fixed" by their father, Richard. Moments before they were scheduled to take the court, Venus defaulted, citing a knee injury. This caused an angry reaction among spectators, many of whom demanded a refund, and when Richard and Venus entered the arena two days later to watch Serena play Kim Clijsters in the final, they were jeered by a number of fans. The Williamses have always claimed the reaction was severely racist, and Richard went as far as to say, "That's the worst kind of prejudice I've seen since they killed Martin Luther King."

Despite efforts from Billie Jean King and other influential figures in women's tennis, the sisters haven't been back to Indian Wells, and their absence is particularly glaring this week. At a time when women's tennis should be thriving, the field looks positively vacant without Venus, Serena and Maria Sharapova, who has been out seven months with a shoulder injury and will play only the doubles (in an attempt to sharpen her game) at Indian Wells.

The men's field is fully loaded: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco, the Spaniard who took Nadal to five sets in one of the greatest Australian Open matches ever played. The top six women's seeds are outstanding players, no doubt about it, but each needs a major boost in her reputation. Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic, Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova are known mostly for losing big matches and falling short of their potential. Safina was crushed by Serena in the Australian Open final. Jankovic somehow reached No. 1 without winning a major. Ivanovic, after winning last year's French Open, fell into a deep and baffling slump. Kuznetsova has done little, on the biggest stages, since winning the 2004 U.S. Open.

It's remarkable to think that after all these years, the women's tour is still defined by the Williams sisters and their remarkable longevity. They are the shining lights of the game, providing nearly all of the tour's most memorable moments of the last couple of years. Indian Wells hasn't been the same without them, and never more so than this week.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=60&entry_id=36827
 

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Tennis journalism aimed in the direction of women's tennis is largely not worth reading anymore. No one cares about anyone but the Williams sisters or Maria Sharapova, none of the women can play tennis aside from them, and they pale so heavily in comparison to the inside out forehands on the men's side. That's all that I get out of reading anything about the women. Whatever particles of truth included, the negative slant directed towards the game is depressing and exaggerated greatly.

When can people just appreciate what we have? They're not professionals for no apparent reason. I love Venus and respect Serena, but I can't wait until the day when they retire. Then the backlash on the game will be REALLY fun. Hopefully Elena will be retired then as well so I won't have to read it anymore. And yes, I realize I didn't have to read this.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Tennis journalism aimed in the direction of women's tennis is largely not worth reading anymore. No one cares about anyone but the Williams sisters or Maria Sharapova, none of the women can play tennis aside from them, and they pale so heavily in comparison to the inside out forehands on the men's side. That's all that I get out of reading anything about the women. Whatever particles of truth included, the negative slant directed towards the game is depressing and exaggerated greatly.

When can people just appreciate what we have? They're not professionals for no apparent reason. I love Venus and respect Serena, but I can't wait until the day when they retire. Then the backlash on the game will be REALLY fun. Hopefully Elena will be retired then as well so I won't have to read it anymore.
Please nobody cares about Maria.
 

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I still enjoy Indian Wells even though one of my faves, Venus, isn't there.

I disagree with the article though. The WS control the face and influence of womens tennis in the states. And the WTA struggles to do anything about it because the WS are a big key to the huge market. And since tennis is dying in America (I guess you could say due to the lack of promotion from the USTA and the stars), the WTA wants to keep everyone that can keep tennis alive.
 

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What's so remarkable about their longevity? They haven't even hit 30 yet :shrug:

And of course the suggestion that they provided "nearly all" of the tour's most memorable moments for the past few years is pretty absurd. Sharapova, Henin, Ivanovic, Jankovic, Dementieva, etc. had just as many memorable moments at they did. And Harkleroad, Kirilenko, Golovin and Hantuchova had some pretty memorable moments recently also :drool::hearts:
 

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Hoping for less D'oh and more woohoo!
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What's so remarkable about their longevity? They haven't even hit 30 yet :shrug:

And of course the suggestion that they provided "nearly all" of the tour's most memorable moments for the past few years is pretty absurd. Sharapova, Henin, Ivanovic, Jankovic, Dementieva, etc. had just as many memorable moments at they did. And Harkleroad, Kirilenko, Golovin and Hantuchova had some pretty memorable moments recently also :drool::hearts:

What exactly were Harkelroad's moments? Was it when she took off her clothes for Playboy or when she got knocked up by her coach/fiancee who is old enough to be her father. Just want to know how a player who has spent the majority of the last 5 years outside the top fifty can have moments that anyone outside of her hardcore(pardon the pun) fans would know about?:shrug:
 

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:weirdo:
 

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No more than any of the top twenty or so
 

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This is the whole problem of the WTA, they go to such lenghts to promote the williasms and maria and do very little for the others. Right now there should be article upon article on the likes of Dementieva, Safina on the eve of No.1 without running her down but pointing to her achievements, there should be a focus on how competitive the field is, there is no clear winner for the title right now. that should say something. But instead we are stuck with the same williams vs Indian wells saga, maria still injured and yet they are not in the draw.
The excitement should catch on if they put in some effort!
 

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Its a fair article. The draw does scream - where are the stars hiding, to me at least. Compare it to the mens and it looks like a slam vs a MM Tier III. Sucks for IW :)
 

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I don't even want to think about it. I'm just gonna enjoy them while I can.
 

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this article speaks a lot of the truth

however sometimes people, including myself, should concentrate who is playing rather than who is not playing. that way we will have a more positive outlook on the current state of the tour. and the wta really should be promoting safina, dement, and the serbian 'sistas' more in order to try and do that.
 

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Sad truth ..
 
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