Tuesday May 26th, 2009

Happy French Open. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not in Paris this week but will try to do a (semi)daily baguette as the questions come in ...

The delusions about the Williams sisters must stop. Serena loses to Patty Schnyder in Rome and then retires in Madrid. Heading into their worst Slam on their worst surface and you still pick Venus to the semis and Serena to win? Are you just confused? Wimbledon is the next Slam. Or are you just as arrogant as Serena? If they both make the semis, I'll send you some swag! -- Todd Bird, Louisville, Ky.

• You could also mention that Serena has won the title at Roland Garros only once (more than half a decade ago) and she was winless on clay this year entering the French. You could even tell me she's running a fever. Don't care, don't care, don't care. Yes, she called her play "horrendous" after being pushed to three sets in the first round. But haven't we all been burned enough reading too much into the usual metrics and discounting Serena?

Any tips/advice for a first-time visitor to Roland Garros this year? -- Chelsea, Morristown, N.J.

• A part of me feels like you're in Paris and it's late May. Tips are superfluous. But let's see ...

1) Take the Metro. The trains come frequently and leave you with a 10-minute walk from the entrance. Beats cabs, which will cost you a fortune and get snarled in traffic. 2) Venture into the Bullring, one of the great courts in tennis. 3) Stroll around the neighborhood. 4) Check out the sponsor displays -- a few years ago Yannick Noah was signing T-shirts next to the al-Jazeera booth. 5) Those cheese/hot dog/croissant snacks will take years off your life. But man are they good.

You can't seem to go through a mailbag without using the word "proverbial." Last week, you stated that Jelena Jankovic needs to take that "proverbial next step." It is "inconceivable" to think that you cannot come up with another word. -- Andrew Dan, McLean, Va.

• I've been reading a lot of proverbs lately.

Yes, university students do appeal grades, and I have had students who actually asked me if I would reconsider an overall grade because he/she had shown a better attitude in the last month of a term. It certainly wasn't the "trend" when I was finishing my degrees. Perhaps tennis players could also appeal the scores -- Roger Federer shows more enthusiasm in the third set and therefore the players should play an extra set to reward him. What nonsense! -- M. Ng, Vancouver, B.C.

• That's repugnant. Whatever happened to honorable grade-grubbing? Like, you know, telling the professor you were considering majoring in his subject (even when you had no intention of ever doing so), thus assuring yourself of no grade worse than a B? Or researching the professor's writings and cribbing a few of her favorite vocabulary words and pet phrases, so when you, too, wrote about "harmonic convergences" and "hegemonic shifts" and "Freudian undergirdings," you were singing her song. These kids today, with iPhones and their Interweb. No resourcefulness.

I do, however, like Professor M. Ng's suggestion: Tomas Berdych showed considerable improvement as the match progressed. Plus, his participation was first rate and he brought energy and enthusiasm to the proceedings. So could he get a few extra games on the scoreboard? Please?

Utterly boring mailbag this week. Obviously, the Federer fans took over and you obliged them. YAWN. ZZZZZZ! -- Snore, Hometown Withheld

• Like I wrote last week, anyone who makes me laugh gets special consideration. Federer beats Rafael Nadal so, naturally, one panders to the Federer supporters when mentioning as much. And here we thought grade-grubbing was lame.

If you hear of any petition or group supporting Richard Gasquet, please share with us. This situation is ridiculous. ATP pros need to join together and back up one of their own. Someone has got to tell them that together is how they'll make a difference. -- Max, Montreal

• It's not the height of professionalism for me to get involved in this, but if one of you wants to, say, start a Facebook group, I'd be happy to link. And here's some fodder for his legal team.

In response to the observation about the similarity between Federer's recent trajectory and that of the economy, I think it should be noted that there are many economists who note that the recent bull market has been overly optimistic and that it is likely too early to call the slump over. I'd say Federer backers should be wary about making such a comparison. -- Jackie Wong, Brooklyn, N.Y.

• Really, what is Wimbledon but "green shoots"?

• We've gotten a lot of "babe" questions lately. Who do I think is hotter, X or Y? Who has nicer legs? Why does so-and-so wear such an unflattering skirt? At the risk of sounding like the Village Prude, here's a request: Please stop.

• From Shawn Frost of Miami: Here's a link to a great news story about Miami resident, tennis Hall of Famer and nonagenarian Gardnar Mulloy.

• New York readers: Mailbag reader Arthur Chan invites you to check out this show presented by Nathan Lane and starring comic Mike Birbiglia.

Good news for U.S. tennis!

• The release of Little Pancho: The Life of Tennis Legend Pancho Segura, by Caroline Seebohm, will coincide with the 25th anniversary of Segura's induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Here's the Amazon link.

• Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. Long-lost siblings submission comes courtesy of Sarah of Washington, D.C.:

Roger Federer and Morrissey.

To order a copy of Jon Wertheim's' new book, Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played, click here.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.