September 29, 2009
September 27, 2009
Fittingly, 2010 promises to be the most thrilling year in tennis we've had this decade- possibly its defining year.
Tennis is probably the only sport where the women can potentially be as exciting to watch as the men. And that's no mean thing for women in Sport. Somehow, the women this decade have not delivered all at once. There is no doubt that the Williamses took the game to the next level physically. Serena Williams may not have Graf's numbers, but at her best she can be an unstoppable force. And here, I'm going to be blasphemous and say it- Serena is probably the greatest player of all time, for at her brilliant powerful best, no one- and I mean no one- not Graf, not Navratilova, not Evert- no one could have defeated her. Well, almost.
She might have met her match in a petite 5'5 Belgian called Justine Henin- who, armed with a backhand like lightening (a stroke John McEnroe called the best backhand in the game- men or women) has had Serena's number. Justine's fierce will is rivalled only by Serena's. Boy, do those two dislike each other. But their rivalry- which could easily have been as thrilling as the storied Roger-Rafa one, had it come to full fruition- did not develop for a variety of reasons. In her 2002-03 pomp, Serena was untouchable. And Justine was still developing her game. Nevertheless, the only grand Slam loss Serena had was at Roland Garros 2003- in a controversial outcome at the hands of Henin.
Then as Serena fell to the vagaries of injury and personal loss, Belgian tennis took center stage with Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters facing off repeatedly. By the time Serena had gotten her mojo back, Kim had retired. Justine was indisputably number 1 and defeated a sub par, out of shape Serena in 3 successive Slams- the last one at the US Open 2007 making Justine the only player to defeat both the Williamses and win a Grand Sam (a feat recently replicated by- who else? Kim Clijsters in 2009). Then Justine retired in 2008, as Serena made a blazing return to fitness and glory. Venus of course has been the undisputed queen of grass- reaching 8 Wimbledon finals in the past 10 years and winning 5. Her losses? To Serena Williams.
But now in 2010, order will be restored. Serena is fit and playing well again- her fearsome serve and athleticism restored. Kim Clijsters- that wonderful timer of the ball has returned to great success. And Justine Henin- with the great backhand intact- is coming back- her eyes firmly fixed on Wimbledon, the only major she hasn't won. The same Wimbledon which has been Williams turf for so long now. Where the defending Champion will be - Serena. It is for the first time in their careers that these four players- Serena, Venus, Kim and Justine will be at their peaks. So what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? A catfight? You bet. And I want to be there to watch it.
Article by - KG / Desicritics.org
September 26, 2009
September 24, 2009
Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Serena Williams has pulled out of the upcoming Toray Pan Pacific Open, organizers said Thursday. The American world No. 2, who sparked controversy when she unleashed a verbal tirade at a line judge in her semifinal defeat to Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open earlier this month, has withdrawn from the tournament beginning Sunday in Tokyo citing knee and toe injuries.
-- The Japan Times Online
September 23, 2009
"That," the retired tennis hero said, "is not an excuse for the lack of accountability that should exist with actions like that. It's one thing to argue an issue on the court. It's another thing to threaten a person. And that's a line that shouldn't be crossed." Williams, you know, screamed at a line judge, "If I could, I would take this (expletive) ball and shove it down your (expletive) throat." If Williams had a more thoughtful post-outburst follow-through, she could have turned her worst moment into her best, Agassi said. "In life, some of our darkest moments can be our finest, depending on what we choose to do with it." Agassi said he or any other player could have done what Williams did. It's not easy to judge her because "you don't know what it's like to walk a mile in her shoes."
But if Agassi had melted down like that, "I know one thing for sure. It'd be really hard for me to live with myself if I didn't continually express my deepest regrets for how I conducted myself." As for the foot fault that led to Williams' tirade, Agassi couldn't tell on TV whether Williams stepped on the line or not. If Agassi had been the linesman during that match point, Williams would have to have violated that line "by a significant margin for me to pull that trigger." But a linesman's call is a linesman's call, he said.
September 19, 2009
Sophie’s Voice Foundation was founded in 2008) by actors Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker in honor of their daughter Sophie who was diagnosed with Spina Bifida at birth. The SOPHIE’S VOICE FOUNDATION is a charitable organization supporting family outreach programs, prenatal education and surgical studies for children with Spina Bifida. Currently, the SVF is planning fundraisers across the nation to help finance the Xiao Procedure, a nerve rerouting procedure that could change the lives of Spina Bifida Families everywhere. To take part in the auction visit this link: Auction
Side Note: Prior to their marriage, Boris and Nicole played the beautiful and rather intriguing couple (Terry and Damon) on Showtime's "Soul Food: The Series" (2000 - 2004).
September 18, 2009
Nearly a week after her outburst at the U.S. Open, tennis star Serena Williams has scored an endorsement deal with Procter & Gamble's Tampax brand. The company, which sells Pampers, diapers and Tide detergent, is running print and online ads featuring the world’s No. 2 women’s tennis player in a campaign for Tampax. The effort, via Leo Burnett, Digitas and Starcom Mediavest Group, is a continuation of the brand’s “Outsmart Mother Nature” campaign, which shows a pesky character, Mother Nature, attempting to deliver women their monthly periods (in the form of a red ribbon-topped gift box). Print ads feature the athlete beating Mother Nature in a game of tennis and hit newsstands this week, primarily in teen titles like Teen Vogue.
Tampax, which spent $30 million in measured media last year, excluding online, per Nielsen, will also begin running videos with Serena Williams on its site. The videos, which are part of a series, depict Williams in sticky situations with Mother Nature. The tennis star, however, is “unstoppable and prepared, like our Tampax girl,” said Courtney Schuster, associate brand manager for Tampax. "[Williams] doesn’t let Mother Nature get the best of her." Williams landed the gig with Tampax despite the incident at last week's U.S. Open, when the star shouted a series of profanities at a line coach and was disqualified. Williams has since apologized for her behavior, though she maintains she won’t change who she is despite her actions. Experts predicted no sports sponsorship dangers for Williams, and advertisers Kraft and Nike have publicly stated their support. Tampax’s choice of Williams as spokesperson—a first for the brand and unusual for a category like fem care—seems to affirm that. “This is really huge for us . . . We haven’t seen [competitors in our category] do this. She stands for so much and she is much bigger than sports and tennis,” Schuster said.
Like Kraft and Nike, Schuster agreed that Williams “made a mistake, apologized for her actions and that’s really the most we can ask of anyone. We really support her and continue to partner with her,” she said of the sponsorship agreement, which extends into next year. (P&G did not disclose the cost of the effort.)William Sutton, professor and associate director of the University of Central Florida’s DeVos Sport Business Management Program, said Tampax’s pick of Williams as spokesperson should likely do no harm. “She’s bigger than the incident itself. She’s at the pinnacle of her sport. When she doesn’t play, people don’t watch,” Sutton said.Per TNS Media Intelligence, Tampax spent $16 million on Internet and $10 million on magazine advertising through June of this year.
September 16, 2009
September 15, 2009
September 14, 2009
Venus and Serena Williams claimed their 10th Grand Slam doubles championship Monday by defeating World #1 and defending Champions Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-2, 6-2 at the US Open. This is the Williams Sisters 2nd US Open Doubles title. Serena and Venus will split a $420,000 winner's check for their first U.S. Open title since 1999. It was the third Slam title of the year for the Williams sisters after wins at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. "I have a great partner," Venus Williams said. "I believe in her just as much as I believe in myself." Black and Huber top the season rankings but struggle to outplay the Williams sisters in the year's major events. "They are bigger and stronger than us and they serve much better than us," Black said. "Although we're ranked number one, they are definitely our stiffest competition."
Patrick McEnroe conducted the post-match interview on court and Williams sounded contrite but didn't apologize. "I'd like to thank the fans for supporting me through everything," she said to applause from a few thousand fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I really, really love you guys and never want to have a bad image for you guys." McEnroe asked two follow-up questions, but was interrupted by booing on the second one, as he tried to ask her "what clicked" in her mind over the past 48 hours to trigger the apology, which came a day after she'd issued a first statement that didn't include one. Big sister Venus stepped in. "I think what the crowd is saying is, 'Patrick, let's move on,'" Venus said.
I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible – I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA, and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst. I’m a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I’m wrong.
I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad. I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.
Serena is a great player who has done so much for our sport and I am certain she will continue to be a role model to millions of young women who want to play the game and excel as Serena has done. As a role model, it's important for a leader like Serena to step forward and recognize her behavior last night was unacceptable, and I believe that her statement earlier today is an acknowledgement of her responsibility to her fans.
September 13, 2009
After an unidentified lineswoman called a foot fault on a second serve which gave Williams a double fault and put her a point away from the loss, Williams approached the lineswoman, shook a tennis ball in the direction of the woman's face and threatened to shove the ball down the women's throat.Because Williams had already received a warning after breaking her racket at the end of the first set, her actions in confronting the lineswoman resulted in another code violation and a penalty point. That point was match point and gave Clijsters the win.
Through a public relations agency, Williams said Sunday, "Last night everyone could truly see the passion I have for my job. Now that I have had time to gain my composure I can see that while I don't agree with the unfair line call in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me and as a result handled the situation poorly." Serena and her sister Venus will play the women's doubles final today, and tennis analyst Mary Carillo had an emphatic opinion on whether or not that match should be played. "If they let [Serena] play doubles, that's really a joke," Carillo said Sunday. "She should be out. How can you let her play? That woman was threatened and humiliated." Pam Shriver, who is also working for ESPN, suggested that Williams needs to make an apology soon. "If you're a great champion, as Serena is, and if you want to be a champion, like Serena, who opens schools in Africa and who wants to leave a legacy, then you need to make full amends and an appropriate apology or else you've cheapened your accomplishments."
Shriver also thought that one outcome of the incident might be a system where foot fault calls could be challenged and electronically reviewed.The present system of electronic line calls where players are allowed up to three challenges a set of a chair umpire or linesperson's call, is credited in part because of a controversial chair over rule that cost Williams a crucial point during a U.S. Open match against Jennifer Capriati."I think, after this, officials will find the need to address reviewing of foot faults," Shriver said. "I could see where, just like after the Serena-Capriati match . . . ushered in the age of electronic line calls, this might usher in the age of the challenge of foot fault calls."
Seemingly surprised by the depth and pace of Clijsters shots and seeing even some of her best shots come back with interest, Williams pulled the trigger prematurely at times in the first set and impatience cost her. Williams made successive backhand errors to drop serve and fall behind 2-4. The backhand is typically Williams' most reliable groundstroke, that the backhand betrayed her in the opening set as she committed 11 backhand errors compared to one for Clijsters. Father Richard Williams, sitting in the fourth row, held both palms out in a "calm down" gesture directed at his daughter. Williams relaxed her arm and ripped a series of returns to earn triple break point in the seventh game. Clijsters staved off three break points but on the fourth, Williams race up to a net cord shot and reifled a forehand winner down the line to break back for 3-4. A 115 mph serve down the middle followed by a forehand winner evened the set at 4-all.
Realizing that first-set code violation set made the point penalty mandatory after her outburst at the end of the second set, Williams put her racquet down, walked around the net post and shook hands with Clijsters before leaving the court without a word. "The timing is unfortunate, you know," Clijsters said. "To get a point penalty at the time, it's unfortunate. But there are rules and like I said, it's just unfortunate that it has to happen on match point." It was a sad, stormy and ugly ending for Williams, who was outplayed in the opening set, but clawed her way back into the match in the latter stages of the second set. "It was not an immediate default. It was a point penalty given on match point," Earley said. "She had an earlier warning for racquet abuse. She was called for a foot fault. A point later she said something to the line umpire and it was reported to the chair and that resulted in a point penalty and it just so happened that was match point. It was a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct."
A calm and composed Williams met with the media about 15 minutes after the match concluded, conceding Clijsters played a high-quality match. "I think Kim played a wonderful match and I think I played good too," Williams said. "I think I could have played better and I actually feel like I can go home and I can actually do better, which I'm really excited about. There's someone out there that makes me want to go home and makes me want to work out and makes me want to run and do better. I can't wait to do that. I think that when I was down, I'm not the beggar like 'Please, please let me have another chance.' Because it was the rules and I play by the rules. If I get hit, I say I got hit, you know. I play by the rules. That's what it was."
September 11, 2009
September 10, 2009
Venus and Serena Williams advanced to the US Open women’s doubles finals by defeating Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-2 in a match that lasted 2 hours and 31 minutes. The Williamses, seeded No. 4, will play the winner of the match between top-seeded Cara Black and Liezel Huber and No. 3 Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs. Black and Huber are the defending champions. Wind played a factor throughout, but especially in the third set. After just three breaks of serve in the first two sets, there were six in the third versus just two holds, both by Venus. “It was probably the most windy conditions I’ve ever played in,” Serena said. “It was tough, but everyone had to play in the same conditions.”
The Williamses will be attempting to win their third grand slam doubles championship of the year, having already captured titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. They won the US Open in 1999, but haven’t played together in this event since 2001. In total, the sisters have won a staggering nine of the past 16 grand slams they’ve played as a doubles team.
September 9, 2009
September 8, 2009
Champion Serena Williams won a war of heavy groundstroke rallies to beat battling Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday and set up a semi-finals clash against former winner Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open. Second-seeded Williams overpowered the 10th seed to break serve at love in the 10th game for the first set, and then earned the only other break of the hard-fought match in the sixth game of the second set to clinch victory. Williams was dominant in her service games, sending seven aces past Flavia and knocking in 86 percent of her first deliveries. The Italian, who had saved six match points before advancing past Vera Zvonareva in the previous round, served up five double faults.
"She never gives up, is such a great player and never gave up tonight," the American, who has yet to lose a set in the tournament, said after the 75-minute victory. Williams has won three of the past four major championships. She is seeking her fourth U.S. Open title and 12th Grand Slam overall.
NEW YORK (AP)—It turns out Serena Williams can move up to No. 1 in the WTA rankings, as long as she wins the U.S. Open. She just would have to wait until a week after the tournament ends. There has been much debate and discussion in recent months about why Williams is No. 2, and Dinara Safina is No. 1. The American has won three of the past four Grand Slam tournaments to raise her career total to 11, while the Russian is still seeking her first major title.
After Safina was upset in the third round at the U.S. Open, she was assured of retaining the top spot when the new rankings are issued Sept. 14, the day after the U.S. Open concludes—no matter how Williams fares the rest of the way. Williams plays in the quarterfinals Tuesday night. But the WTA said Monday that because of the rankings’ rolling, 52-week system, the points Williams would defend by winning the year’s last major tournament would be enough to push her past Safina in the Sept. 21 rankings.