Posts filed under ‘Tennis’
The Queen is dead long live the Queen, are the words offered when one queen passes on, only to be replaced by another. It may be too early to say that Sloane Stephens is the new queen of American tennis, but her victory over Serena Williams has thrust her into the limelight and also a semi final berth at the Australian Open against world number one Victoria Azarenka.
Serena Williams having taken out Wimbledon and the US Open in 2012 was looking to win her third major in a row, after returning from injury, but she was beaten by the 19 year old fellow American who admitted to having pictures of her opponent on her bedroom wall.
Sure Serena Williams had back spasms during the game which clearly affected her game, but Stephens still had to concentrate on her own game and despite some nerves overcame one of the games greats, her former idol.
Stephens is tipped to be Serena Williams successor by US tennis but her victory shows just how important heroes and heroines are on influencing the next generation of sports stars. Althea Gibson may have been the first African American woman to break down the colour barrier when she dominated tennis in the 1950′s when she won the Australian Open and French Open in 1957 as well as Wimbledon and the US Open in ’57 and ’58. She was no doubt influenced by the deeds of Lucy Diggs- Slowe, who was the first African American to win a major sports title when she won the American Tennis Association’s first title. She was the first person from her school to attend Howard university and there she was one of the founding members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; which Gibson was later to become a member of. These women and their feats no doubt inspired other African American female players that have come and gone, the likes of Zina Garrison and Chanda Rubin. It is however the Williams sisters who have most emphatically stamped their mark on the game in recent times and inspired a whole new generation of African Americans to believe that black women can play tennis, they can win major tournaments and that they can become the world number one.
Everyone needs heroes and the Williams sisters have been heroines to a whole generation who are now coming up behind them to fulfil their dream of emulating them.
Serena Williams loss may have been painful to her, but the comment from the young Sloane Stephens spoke volumes when she said she may put posters of her self up on her wall replacing those of Williams. Rest assured around the world many a tennis loving young girl will indeed be putting up her poster, and cheering her on for the rest of this tournament and many in years to come. Just as Serena Williams inspired Sloane Stephens to achieve her dream, so too will she inspire others, and that has to be good for tennis and sport in general.
Footnote: Althea Gibson became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour, in 1964. A truly remarkable sportswoman.
Ine the early hours of this morning the 25th Hyundai Hopman Cup came to and end with the team from Spain of Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina-Garrigues upsetting top seed Serbia, with world number one Novak Djokovic partnering lifelong friend Ana Ivanovic. It was a fantastic tournament in terms of the tennis played but how would one judge the move to the new venue, the much-delayed over-budget and still-not-finished Perth Arena.
As a spectator one thing that has to be addressed is the training of the Arena staff in tennis etiquette. Far too often fans would start moving to an exit not just before a change of ends, but frequently during a game. The paying public may well be ignorant as to the behaviour expected, but it is vital that the Arena staff are aware of it and educate them.
Catering and litter were a massive problem at the event whether you were in a corporate box or a standard paying punter. A cappuccino was requested in a corporate box, 20 minutes later the waitress returned to say that they did not have cappuccinos, only a flat white. The gentleman in question said ‘I’ll have a black coffee then please,’ only to be told that they only serve flat whites!
The design of the Arena is appalling when it comes to obtaining food and drink as a paying punter, and queues frequently blocked all of the walkways as people found access to the food outlets slow and hard to access. Not the Footy Show was also informed that the building has been designed with the food delivery area on the opposite side of the building to the kitchens!
On the evening of the final, it was amazing to be told that the venue had run out of plastic spoons, at this its first major sporting event, and spectators were forced to eat ice cream with a plastic fork! Some spectators were also frustrated that at the end of a long night there was no opportunity to buy a bottle of water as you left the venue after midnight on a hot evening.
It was great to see Harry Hopman’s widow Lucy Hopman once more in attendance, the 92 year old having made the trip from the USA to support the tournament named after her late husband. She has been a regular feature in the front row of the corporate boxes for the past 24 years, but this year at the new venue there was no way to get Mrs Hopman and her wheelchair into that prime position, so she was stationed at the top of the corporate boxes alongside the Channel Ten cameraman. In this day and age who designs a venue such as this without making every area wheelchair accessible? This is another extremely disappointing design fault and will hopefully be corrected quickly.
It was great to attend several days tennis at the new venue and sit in a seat that when you break down the cost of the stadium against the seating capacity cost AUD$27,500. In fact one could say it was a downright privilege.
As a tournament, the screens at the venue, were not the best, with the referral system breaking down on one evening, and the players having to wait for radio confirmation to the umpire. Also when referrals were lost it often took several points for the big screen to update the information. During the final a security alert popped up on the screen stating ‘Windows firewall has blocked some features,’ again all very embarrassing in what is meant to be a state of the art stadium.
The tournament did not start or end well for World Number one Novak Djokovic. First of all when he landed at Perth Airport there was no official from the tournament to meet him, and then of course he lost the final, and then had to stand on court at 0050hrs and endure twenty minutes of speeches from the Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett, the head of Hyundai Australia, Mr Edward Lee and the head of the ITF Francesco Ricci Bitti. It was good to hear the latter acknowledge the work of Paul MacNamee over the past 24 years of the tournament, especially as Tennis Australia, now running the tournament, failed to do so. Mr Lee, as the sponsor for 25 years quite rightly deserved the opportunity to speak and his address was in fact extremely interesting, in terms of how Western Australia has played such a key part in Hyundai’s Australian operations. One has to wonder why the State Premier had to say anything, as regrettably he made a fairly major faux pas. He said how good it was that Mrs Hopman made the long journey from the USA to attend the Perth Cup! This is a horse race, and no doubt official sponsors Hyundai were over the moon that he forgot the name of the tournament they sponsor!
Luckily the tennis was of an exceptional standard and the record crowds no doubt enjoyed all that they saw as day after day they flocked to the new Perth Arena. This was the first major sporting event at the venue and and the management will hopefully have learned many lessons, and the next event will be all the better for hosting this year’s Hopman Cup.
It was a privilege last night to attend the Hopman Cup Ball for 2012 celebrating 25 years of the unique tournament in Perth. Most of the players were in attendance and were incredibly approachable and accommodating when it came to photographs with fans.
Although the entrance to the ball and the decor within the Grand Ballroom was less than understated it was disappointing to see the males of Perth let their female counterparts done by failing to adhere to the black Tie dress code. Black tie does not mean a grey suit with blue shirt and tie!
The opening of the evening saw this year’s players paraded on stage and The Serbian and French teams showed their class, with Novak Djokovic escorting Ana Ivanovic on his arm, as did Jo Wilfred Tsonga with Mathilde Johansson. All of the other players walked out individually, but then again Tommy Haas had no choice with his partner having returned home injured and John Isner from the USA going solo with Venus Williams not in attendance.
A film compilation was shown on the big screen looking back over the past 25 years, but it was regrettable that Tournament Director Steve Ayles in his address failed to acknowledge the man who had the vision for the tournament, and who kept it going and ran it every year up until 2012, Paul MacNamee. It was a great shame that Tennis Australia who now run the event could not put past differences behind them and give credit to the man who will forever be associated with the Hopman Cup.
Also regrettable was the failure to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which the Ball was held or where the tournament is being played. That is disappointing and shows a lack of respect.
One of the highlights of the evening though was the poem written and read out by Rupert MacCall to acknowledge the career and the contribution to Australian Tennis made by the man after whom the tournament was named, Harry Hopman. This was clever, amusing and truly moving and deserved the standing ovation that it received.
Now let us hope that the excellent tennis can continue and the crowds flock to the Perth Arena for the remaining games; the Serbia v Italy game on New Year’s Eve breaking the record for the highest crowd for a tennis match in Western Australia. No doubt that record will be gone by the end of the tournament.
Andy Murray’s major tennis success may have been a long time coming, but it would appear some people in British tennis have to go through a lot less heartache and hard work to receive monetary reward.
Lawn Tennis Association boss Roger Draper has come under heavy fire in the Uk especially from Sport England boss Jennie Price – a role Draper used to hold – as she placed the LTA on probation for government funding. She claimed his proposal for funding “simply isn’t strong enough to justify the four year investment.”
Criticism has been levelled at the LTA over their lack of development at grass roots level, but that has not stopped Draper rewarding himself with a GBP200,000 bonus on top of his GBP440,000 a year salary.
Baroness Billingham the Chair of the All Parliamentary Tennis Group has described the bonus as “Unthinkable” and the LTA as “Useless.” So Draper is on shaky ground, yet UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson still maintains the Football is the worst administered sport in the country, so with few heads rolling in football Draper could find his position safe for the time being.
In tennis the differing tensions of the net cord has been a major talking point amongst all of the top players at al of the major tournaments, because it can have a bearing on a match.
If the ball strikes the top of the net and the cord is loose it will absorb the speed of the ball, and often means it will drop tamely on the other side of the net out of the reach of the receiving player. If it is tight it can effect the trajectory to cause it to fly high and out of court.
Yet an amateur player and engineer from Tennessee in the USA, David Knox, believes he has solved the problem. Known at the US open as the “TNT Gauge” and having been trialled on all of the outside courts in 2011 it was used on all courts at the US Open this year. It is placed on the net post and measures the tension of the net so that every court is the same.
Apparently Wimbledon is notorious for loose nets and the US Open for tight ones. As good as this devise may be we thought the object was to hit the ball over the net, and surely the differing effects on the ball is all part of the game?
It was Queen Elizabeth the second’s silver jubilee in 1977 and Britain celebrated her 25 years on the throne in style as only the British can. To make the year all the more memorable Virginia Wade nine days before her 32nd birthday beat Betty Stove to win Wimbledon. It was the first time the queen had attended Wimbledon in quarter of a century. It was also the last time a Briton won a Grand Slam Singles title.
Today Andy Murray will look to change that statistic when he meets Roger Federer on Centre Court in this her majesty the Queen’s 60th year on the throne. As in 1977 Great Britain has been celebrating the Queen’s milestone and it would be the ideal way to add to what has been a memorable year of celebration if Murray can overcome a man regarded by many as one of the greatest players of all time.
Federer has been a Wimbledon favourite, but he has never had to play a Briton in the final, as it has been 74 years since the host nation has had a player in the Mens Singles final. Henry ‘Bunny’ Austin being the last Briton to contest the Wimbledon final in 1938, unfortunately he could not follow Fred Perry’s victory in 1936, when he was the last male Briton to win the famed title.
Murray is one of the few male players to have the edge over Federer with eight wins to seven losses in their previous meetings, a crucial edge going into such a big match.
Also in his corner looking to be a part of a special Wimbledon victory will be his coach, former world number one Ivan Lendl who will be looking to see Murray lift the one Grand Slam trophy he himself failed to claim despite making the final in ’86 and ’87.
To add to the occasion her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is expected to attend Wimbledon once again. The BBC already expect an audience in excess of 20million and should Murray be heading for victory they could in fact break a viewing figures record for the final.
There were many things to be happy about in the Men’s final of the Australian Open.
First of all what a superb game of tennis, played by two true gentlemen and sportsman, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The match went five hours and 53 minutes and was almost an hour longer than the previous longest match in a grand slam final. That was the four hours and 54 minutes Mats Wilander took to beat Ivan Lendl at the 1988 US Open.
The second plus was that Channel Seven showed the game live in Perth. What a welcome change it was to be able to watch a major sporting event life as it was happening in Perth.
As mentioned both men were respectful of each other after the match, and the organizers, sponsors and all who made the vent the success it is each year.
Now maybe we are becoming slightly grumpy as we get older, but do the post game speeches have to be so long? It was abundantly clear that both players were spent forces, cramping up and struggling to stay on their feet. It took a while for chairs to be brought out for them so that they could sit through the speeches and the relief on both players’ faces when they did arrive was immediately evident.
We know that the sponsors want their money’s worth of air time at the end of the tournament, and to be fair the gentleman from Kia, the official sponsor spoke superbly, and eloquently, but is it necessary to have the head of Tennis Australia waffle on so long?
Fans and players alike really are not that interested in hearing from sports administrators at such events, they want to hear from the victor and the vanquished. Let us hope that the one thing to come out of this fantastic final is that the post match speeches need to be shorter.
Congratulations to Sam Stosur for her emphatic victory over Serena Williams in the US open final.
While many were marveling at the return of Serena Williams from along term injury, many let their focus leave Sam Stosur.
Maybe that was because she did not play on centre court until the final. Maybe it was because an Australian had not won the Women’s US Open title for 37 Years when West Australian Margaret Court claimed the title.
Sam Stosur became the first female Grand Slam winner in 31 years since Evonne Cawley won the country’s last title. Australian women’s tennis has had many oh-so-near moments in those 31 years, which makes this moment all the more special.
Many in tennis circles believed that Stosur had what it took to win a major, and now she has proved to her self that she does. Congratulation Sam Stosur on becoming a major part of Australian and World Tennis history.
After viewing Novak Djokovic’s impression Maria Sharapova, we believe he is unlikely to be on the Russian’s Christmas card list. But he does a fantastic, job, a great tennis player who doesn’t take it too seriously.
With all the riots currently taking place in the UK the charges against Darren Swain seem a little harsh, or do they?
Mr. Swain is a postman in Coventry England and he has just been found guilty of racially aggravated criminal damage.
He scrawled in his depots toilets that Andy Murray was ” a useless jock.”
Knowing where he wrote this Confucious-esque thought, one wonders if he might have been better of using terms more appropriate for the toilets.