Why Serena will win Wimbledon, further G.O.A.T. debate, more mail
We'll be back Friday with our seed report ...
• We're going to beat the holiday rush and address in this advance of Wimbledon. Serena Williams' return will trigger the inevitable hand-wringing about the current state of the WTA. How much of this is Serena's extraordinary talents? How much of this the shaky state of today's WTA?
For me, it's a lot of the former and a little of the latter. This is Serena Williams we're talking about. Apart from being one of tennis' most decorated champions, she has made a career out of dramatically disappearing and dramatically reappearing. Done it for years. You love it. You hate it. Doesn't matter. Those are her rhythms. She's more or less rust-proof. She doesn't need a lot of match play. Especially on grass -- where her power and athleticism are most accentuated -- she adjusts quickly. To her, winning majors is like riding a bike to the rest of us. There is an advantage in her not having logged any real mileage this year. There is a psychological advantage that comes from the mystique of living Serena loca. I write this prior to having seen her play. Sure, there's a chance she could injure herself with a level of exertion she hasn't experienced for a year. Sure, she hit the wall Wednesday in a three-set loss to Vera Zvonareva. But if I had pick a Wimbledon winner tomorrow -- wait, it turns out I do -- it's Serena.
As for the rest of the field, it's no secret this is not a golden age for the women. And it's silly to argue otherwise. But I urge you to watch the actual tennis. If the top players are hitting balls into the bottom of the net or gagging 5-0 leads, it's one thing. If they're playing capably and Serena Williams is simply pasting the ball and competing better, give her the bulk of the credit.
• Now that you mention it. Why not split the difference and give it to Davydenko so we can get on with our lives?
• Fun as it is to speculate, I think these counterfactuals are dangerous. If Obama didn't exist, Hillary Clinton might be the president. But for 2008, my retirement portfolio would look decidedly stronger. Gotta play the hand you were dealt.
• Indeed. Thanks to Sharko for this:
• A few of you mentioned this recently. I see a danger either way. Some of these listed weights are highly dubious and, you could argue promote the wrong message about body image. But I can understand why a player might be uneasy about having her "actual" weight memorialized. A double standard? True. But I think we defer to the players here. Perhaps encourage honesty and explain the perils of underreporting. If a 6-2 power hitter wants to submit that she weighs 130 lbs., what's the alternative? Force her back on the scale? It's not boxing. It's not a team sport. I'd be more concerned about WTA players lying about their ages than their weights.
• We have a very elaborate process for selecting questions. There's a steering committee that follows parliamentary procedure and then oversight committee that has to ratify. A vice-provost then makes the final determination. We jest. I try to make this a mix of topical and quirky. At some level, I feel like the questions should reflect the chatter out there in Tennis Land. If I get a hundred passionate emails about the GOAT discussion -- thanks, Mary Carillo! I praise you 24/7 and this is how you do me? -- I think it does a disservice to ignore the topic, however "tired and boring" others may find it. Same for grunting. And the Hall of Fame. Doesn't mean everything needs to be crowd-sourced. But -- without getting too sappy -- this is your column as well as mine.
• We don't want any killing, so let's answer James' question. Again, hypotheticals aren't the best way to make the column. If Serena Williams became a roadie for Green Day and Kim Clijsters got lost in a New Jersey Ikea, would Justine Henin still be playing? Still, without Federer and Nadal, we obviously have a wider distribution of titles. I suspect Djokovic has won at least five. Murray has broken through. Roddick has won more than one. We probably have some surprise winners: if Al Costa, Tommy Johansson and Juan Carlos Ferrero win Slams, surely a Robin Soderling or Davydenko can get on the board, too. Again, though, if Mr. and Mrs. Jobs had never conceived little Stevie, I'd be writing this on a PC and listening to a Sony Discman and ignoring the incoming calls on my Treo.
• Appreciate your kind words but I'll use this as an opportunity to expound on last week's point about the HBO documentary. One of tennis' undeniable virtues: it looks after its veterans. Former champs hardly fade away. They return as commentators, coaches, administrators, Davis Cup captains, "legends" players, and sometimes all of the above. That's great. But it comes at a price. There's too much attention on the past, too much "in my day" talk from the commentariat, that we lose sight of the current product.
Imagine if the NBA were stuck in the Magic-Bird era and folks on the street were only vaguely aware of LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki. This season alone there was a documentary and TWO books (excellent though they all were) about the Borg-McEnroe rivalry. I think a writer would have a very hard time selling a
• Sounds like another Greek bailout.
• We tend to bristle at self-promotion, but the powers that be have asked me to mention that
• Todd Bird of Louisville, Ky.,
• New Yorkers,
• Monika of Greenville, S.C.: "About the word
• Art Wong of Torrance, Calif.: "I like how you link to local tennis events in your Wednesday columns. Here's an upcoming event that I'm really looking forward to -- the dedication of some new tennis courts at my alma mater, Los Angeles High School. I bet the courts haven't been re-surfaced in 50+ years. With luck, the new courts will lead to an urban tennis renaissance here in L.A. The courts at L.A. High were always horrible -- nice to see alums spearheading the renewal. For more info on the event,
• Clint Swett of Sacramento notes: "Miloslav Mecir, whom I presume is the son of the former Grand Slam finalist, appears to be moving up in the tennis world. He's seeded 8th in the qualies of a Netherlands ATP event this week."
• My new favorite player, Indy de Vroome got wildcarded into UNICEF Open.
• Andre Agassi
• The Mighty Helen of Philadelphia rightfully wonders: "
• Joe Johnson of Allentown, Pa.: "I was just checking the rankings at the ATP website. Do you realize that Djokovic has played fewer tournaments in the past 52 weeks than all of the other top 80 players? May this tactic be one of the keys to his success?"
• Debbie of Ottawa, Canada: "Long lost siblings: Phillip Kohlschreiber and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Do a