Monday March 1st, 2010

1. The orbit of Venus: Venus Williams -- and her travel agent -- take a bow. A week after winning the title on the hard courts of Dubai, Venus wins on the clay of Acapulco. And one day later (Monday night), she'll play indoors at the BNP Paribas Showdown exo at Madison Square Garden (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). We'll preempt the cynics and concede that, yes, she was paid handsomely at each stop. And, yes, with Indian Wells upon us, Venus will now have a self-imposed two-week vacation. Still, at a time when so many are squirting embalming fluid on her career, she makes a strong statement about her commitment level when she plays successfully and often.

2. Careers are not straight lines: We ask for consistency from our athletes but, in truth, the unpredictability and inexplicable streaks is part of what make sports so fun. Two years ago, Ernests (the second "S" is for savings) Gulbis was a teenager who looked like a surefire top 10 player. For the past 14 months, he has struggled to win matches. Suddenly, he is playing well again, taking his first title at Delray Beach last weekend. Juan Carlos Ferrero won a major and reached No. 1 in 2003; then disappears, going so far as to lose to a qualifier at last month's Australian Open. Suddenly, he wins two straight titles and comes within a match taking the third -- falling in the finals of Acapulco to countryman David Ferrer -- but finishes 14-1 in February. Ole. A month ago today, Andy Murray is a match from winning his first major. Since then he has backslided, most recently losing in Dubai last week to Janko Tipsarevic -- and then infuriating the promoter by insinuating that his event was of little significance. Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, took the title and earned plaudits both for his play and his professionalism. Sure doesn't take much (or long) for fortunes to change in this sport.

3. Sister act: If we were giving out award for Tweets of the Week, Serena Williams takes first place:

• Hey guys... Ok so this is a weird question- but how many grand slam singles titles do I have.. I can't remember.... Any one out there know??

Then:

• Ok guys I'm so serious. I can't remember how many grand slams I have. I see that Tiger Woods has 14 and I've always wanted to catch him!!

Then:

• I'm thinking 12 or 13 I'm too lazy to google it...

This, in a 140-character nutshell, is precisely why she is so sensationally polarizing. You either cringe at the immodesty and insensitivity and disregard for history. (@BillGates: "How many billions am I up to? Can someone look that up for me? Preferably on Bing?") Or you marvel at the self-confidence, the brashness, the indifference to tradition and history. Either way, it's seldom boring.

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