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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: Andy Murray answers your pressing questions

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jQip150S-oY

• Video: "Summer" Williams is the sassiest nerd I've ever seen.

• Andy Murray takes some time off from preparing for his hometown Grand Slam to answer some pressing reader questions. It's no surprise that he says his favorite WTA player to watch is Agnieszka Radwanska, who is known for her variety. He seemed stumped by at least one query, though.

Which sock do you put on first? The left or the right one? I think my left, but I don't really know. I haven't thought about it before. I think my left - I'll let you know.

• The family of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape victim says it's "proud" that Serena Williams apologized for her comments.

'We just read Serena's updated comments and we're proud of her for correcting and clarifying her prior statements,' the family said, according to a statement issued on their behalf by attorney Bob Fitzsimmons. 'We are sure Serena has and will continue to use her God-given talents to advance women's equality and send the message that rape is never acceptable under any circumstance.

'We are fans of Serena and will continue rooting for many more championships but more importantly watching her advance the cause of rape victims who are never to blame.'

• Hannah Wilks has a piece worth reading on Serena's controversial comments.

It is, perhaps, especially upsetting to hear this from a woman whose talents and determination have made her an inspiration for so many others and who sees no apparent contradiction between making these statements and insisting that ‘I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done’. A woman, moreover, who has been the target of this kind of victim-blaming: I remember an occasion on which Williams was criticized for ‘hypocrisy’ after she used a somewhat revealing photo as her profile picture the week after a man was arrested for stalking her. Again, though, it’s as unsurprising as it is sad.

In my opinion, its roots lie in women needing to believe on some level, in order to stay sane, that society has rules and that following those rules will keep them safe; hence the drive to interrogate the behaviour of a victim so that we can tell ourselves that we would not act like that and therefore it won’t happen to us. Acknowledging the truth – that rape can happen to anyone, be perpetrated by anyone, at any time and in any circumstances – is simply too traumatic. We’d never leave our houses (not that we’re safe there either). How are women supposed to live in a world in which they could be raped in the back of an ambulance by two paramedics, as happened in a case I know of? Reassuring ourselves that we’re safe by policing our own behaviour and that of others is a deeply conditioned response.

• Getting back to things on court, ESPN.com's Greg Garber looks at Serena's incredible form, which is rivaled only by her 2002-2003 stretch when she completed the "Serena Slam."

Technically, she has always been a terrific ball-striker, and her serve is generally viewed as the greatest in women's history. She dropped three aces on [Maria] Sharapova in the final game; the last was clocked at 124 mph -- incredibly, the same speed as [Rafael] Nadal's fastest serve in his finals victory over David Ferrer. And 2 mph faster than anything Ferrer could offer. Improved footwork and balance has kept more of Serena's shots in the court, so it's fair to say she's actually better than she's ever been.

And then there is the psychological explanation. On numerous occasions over the years, Williams has discussed her ambivalence about being a professional athlete. Recently, she seems to have come to terms with her chosen profession -- and she has grown far more professional in her approach. She looks fitter, too, no small issue for an aging player. Perhaps, in this current incarnation, she has come to realize how much the sport (and her place in it) mean to her. It's never too late to maximize your legacy.

The best parallel to what Serena is doing can be found on the men's side at the leading edge of the Open era. Ageless Australian Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open in 1971 at the advanced age of 36 -- then defended his title a year later. Andres Gimeno of Spain is the oldest French Open champion on record, at 34 years, 10 months. A more contemporary example is Andre Agassi, who, like Serena, spent some of his early years less than focused. At 32 years old, Agassi won his last major, the Australian Open, in 2003.

• Bob Hewitt has been summoned to appear in a South African court to face allegations he sexually abused young girls he coached.

• Nicolas Mahut and Paul-Henri Mathieu clean up nicely for this fashion spread in GQ France.

• Vince Spadea appears on Bravo's Princesses: Long Island, which is incredibly sketchy.

• Non-tennis: Perfect pre-Wimbledon soundtrack: The Beatles + The Beastie Boys = The Beastles.

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