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Discussion Starter #1
Only one American woman has even reached the finals in the last four grand slam events.

With Davenport on the brink of retirement, Seles not having played on tour this year and unlikely to make an impact if she returns, Rubin and Shaughnessy seemingly unable to make the breakthrough to the upper ranks, and no big teenage sensations on the horizon(Ashley H. has not produced any top results yet), what is the future of American women's tennis?

It all seems to rest now on the question of what happens to Jennifer Capriati and the Williams sisters.

Jenn remains the most unpredictable woman in the sport, capable of playing either winning tennis or embarrassingly bad tennis when she faces top opponents. Right now, she is going through coaches with lightning speed, but does not seem to be getting much of anything from any of them. And at the age of 28, one wonders how many more years she will stick around.

She obviously is not always in the best of condition, but needs to be to track down the hard hit balls fired by an increasingly large number of her opponents. I predict retirement for her sometime in the next two years.

Venus Williams is obviously still young enough to make a major dent in women's tennis, but as of the US Open, she will have gone three years without winning a major. And the list of serious opponents who can knock her out of a slam seems to get longer by the week. If the Belgian sisters return by the US Open, or even if one of them does, it will make things that much harder. It seems to me the issue with Venus is, does she really care about tennis that much now or would she rather be working on her design career? Working on both at the same time just does not seem to be working, in terms of tennis.

Serena faces largely the same problem, but with more serious implications. Serena is clearly the better player of the two sisters, a much better natural athlete. But she has taken tennis even more flippantly than Venus has, loudly proclaiming that she is more than a tennis player. She is and obviously, she is free to pick whatever career she wants.

What Serena is not free to do is to win at will any longer. It is clear that there are a slew of Europen players who want slam titles a lot more than she wants them and that may be the main difference. For as good an athlete as she may be, Sherapova and Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne may be just as good and who knows how many others are out there, too. So, in the end, hunger may be the deciding factor and Serena seems hungry for acting stardom, not tennis stardom.

I know, she said she will work harder, but she said the same thing after the FO and she got better results at Wimbledon, but not good enough results. More importantly, you just had to look at the faces of Serena and her 17-year-old opponent to see which one really, really wanted that title. And since Sherapova would appear to be as good an athlete as Serena, the title went to her.

For both Williams sisters, there is also the aweful truth that to get back to the top, they may both have to spend on a lot more time on the court than they are now. And with their record of frequent injuries, that may not be easy. It certainly won't be easy to pursue their other interests and train hard enough to win slams.

One thing I don't see is Venus and Serena hanging around the tour only to be also rans. So it seems to me that soon one or both of the sisters are going to be making big decisions about their careers -- get out now while your aura is still in tact, or buckle down and train harder and play more, in the face of ever growing opposition.

Meanwhile, the question is, when will the next American woman win a slam singles title and right now, I wouldn't count on that happening any time soon.
 

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One big question for these players is "how serious are these 'other interests'?"

They have all the money in the world to indulge themselves in whatever alternate career they choose but ultimately will people be interested in them once they finish tennis. It's what got them where they are today and to treat it too cavalierly is to risk everything.
 

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great post Tony. the same problem faces the American men. Other than the Duck whoo just powered his way to a final, where are the others? Ginepri? Fish? Blake? Dent? Gambill? only Spadea seems to be making some interesting noises lately and he ain't exactly young.
 

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Good point tonyp....right now American tennis boils down to Serena, Jennifer and Venus....that´s it. Of the trio Serena is the one best equiped to keep the american flag waiving atop, but she needs to get serious.

I think this loss hurt her BADLY and REALLY pissed her off....one thing I´ve learned: never count out a pissed off Serena.
 

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Where are the American women?
Chris, Martina and I are still here...
 

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The men are in much better shape with Roddick, Blake, Ginepri, and Fish. The women are in BAD shape. The WTA better BEG Serena and Venus to play another 5 years because there are NO young American prospects (Harkelroad??? Please...). Davenport and Capriati will not be around too much longer... so it's up to Venus and Serena!
 

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tennischick said:
great post Tony. the same problem faces the American men. Other than the Duck whoo just powered his way to a final, where are the others? Ginepri? Fish? Blake? Dent? Gambill? only Spadea seems to be making some interesting noises lately and he ain't exactly young.
Don't forget that surface counts for much more in the men's game - when the hard court season gets into full swing the American men will improve their results.
 

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But who are the new, up and coming American players?

Harkleroad was meant to be one. She hasn't made a breakthrough yet. Nor has Bielik

Who are the others?
 

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Serena fought tooth and nail to win that match against Mauresmo even though she wasnt playing her best, pumping her fist after every point and screaming come on, and you still doubt her hunger to win?

Serena and Venus will be top players for a while yet. But there is a point about no new American players coming up after them. Jamea Jackson seems to have the talent, but time will tell with her results. Other than that, theres not amny others i can think of.
 

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Martina Navratilova has said it was a good thing that the Williams Sisters lost. They were just part-timers, and hobby players now. Hobby players shouldn't win slams, and this might make them place their full attention on tennis.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Serena, of course, grew up in southern California. She now owns a very expensive condo here, which I assume she uses as her living quarters while pursuing her acting career.

The most influential newspaper in California -- actually west of the Mississippi-- is the Los Angeles Times.

Sunday morning's LA Times had a huge picture on the very front page of the newspaper, above the fold, of Maria Sharapova down on her knees, her arms held up in triumph. The caption announced her as the new Wimbledon champ.

To find a picture of Serena, you had to dig out the sports section and go to page 11 and there was a picture of her lying on her back after one of her falls.

I imagine that does not sit well with Serena, who has been using her celebrity as a tennis player to try to crack the very difficult world of entertainment.

If that news account in her home town doesn't serve as a wake up call and make her mad, nothing will.

But she is facing a very difficult choice,because the field is obviously getting tougher and tougher in both businesses and dividing your time between two professions is pretty trick, if you want to get to the top in either. She's already been to the top in tennis. She may decide to get out while her aura is still in tack.
 

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both Williams sisters have intentions of playing past their 30s. they're not done yet, as much as some people would love them to be. :)
 

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SJW said:
both Williams sisters have intentions of playing past their 30s. they're not done yet, as much as some people would love them to be. :)
30s? I highly doubt it. I think the Williams sisters are too proud to be playing if they continiously lose to younger players. I think both girls will retire before age 29.
 

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gweeny said:
30s? I highly doubt it. I think the Williams sisters are too proud to be playing if they continiously lose to younger players. I think both girls will retire before age 29.
they said it themselves, so take it up with them ;)
 

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xan said:
Martina Navratilova has said it was a good thing that the Williams Sisters lost. They were just part-timers, and hobby players now. Hobby players shouldn't win slams, and this might make them place their full attention on tennis.
I'm sure every other player on tour has interests apart from tennis, they just arent publicised as much.
I know Ai Sugiyama runs a business that includes a sports store, flower shop and cafe, and no one ever criticises her dedication to tennis.
 

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tennischick said:
great post Tony. the same problem faces the American men. Other than the Duck whoo just powered his way to a final, where are the others? Ginepri? Fish? Blake? Dent? Gambill? only Spadea seems to be making some interesting noises lately and he ain't exactly young.
GInepri Fish and dent are all in the top 30. mardy just hasnt put it together at a slam yet. ginepri got to the 4th round of wimby and aussie this yr. dent lost to roddick in 3rd round and has had shitty draws. And for future stars check out the junior ranking theres alot of american men high in those rankings unlike the girls. 5 in the top 25 in fact
 

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great points all Tony (i'd even argue that in the wake of the NYT scandal, the LA Times is the most influential newspaper in the ENTIRE U.S.)

bandy, i don't agree with you that Serena was pissed off after the loss. She was sitting there smiling the whole time during the ceremony, like she didn't really care. She didn't look like somebody who's headed straight back to the practice courts so that she doesn't get beat the next time.

As Tony said, crunch time is going to arrive soon for Serena. She needs to realize that unlike in tennis, where she is a goddess, in the acting world Serena is not respected by the industry because she hasn't done any good, notable work. She's a pretender in that world, a curiosity. And meanwhile the tennis tour is no longer chasing Serena - it has caught up with her.

As for the U.S. women, it's to a greater or lesser extent OVER for the aging stars of the past decade: Seles, Davenport, Capriati, and Rubin. But if you are asking where is the next American star, in what way is Maria Sharapova not American besides in her passport? Maria is very much an immigrant to the U.S. and she attracts huge attention in the U.S. media. She may not be formally American but she acts like and is treated as one. That she formally refuses to call herself American is really a minor point. Seles eventually changed her citizenship and i won't be surprised if Maria eventually does as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
In truth, it is hard to know just how much time either Williams sisters spends away from tennis. Or spends on tennis.

But we do know that acting isn't tennis. You don't spend four hours every day practicing your acting. You might take some classes or do some private study, but it doesn't take the kind of continual practice that athletics take.

Basically, if you've prepared your role, you just show up and act.

So it is not impossible for Serena to do some acting on the side, while playing tennis.

As to the design companies, I have no idea how much of their time that actually takes.

All one can really say is, it has now been a year since Serena won a slam and almost three years since Venus has won one, so the results are what is prompting the media and many other people to take critical looks at their time management.

And I suspect a lot of the problem is that people see Serena turning up at party events. Well, to be fair, that goes on a lot in show business. People attend premieres and galas and film festivals to get noticed and to make contacts. It's considered a normal part of the that particular business.

But it is not necessarily something that helps you if you are an athlete.

Another thing that has to be pointed out in her defense is, the window of opportunity for women athletes is pretty much the same window of opportunity for actresses. In Hollywood, they want you when you are a teen or in your twenties, not after you are thirty.

So if Serena were to play until she was 30 or something, she'd find that she was relegated to supporting roles when she tried to start a new career in movies or TV. Men can play easily until their early thirties, then turn to acting. Women just don't have that same option, and that's what makes it such a tough choice for Serena.

That is probably why we rarely see female athletes become top actresses. There have been a lot of guys who played football or baseball or some other sport and then turned actor.

I can actually think of only a couple of women who made it, former Olympic skating star Sonja Henie from Norway, who was in the 40s the top box Hollywood office draw briefly, and Esther Williams, the former swimming star who turned actress.

And believe me, neither of those two waited until they were 30. Henie was about 25 when she crossed over. Williams had barely turned 20 when she struck off for Hollywood.
 
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