The Wimbledon champion stepped on glass and didn't play another match the rest of the year. The youngest of the WTA's Grand Slam champs was an "unretired" mother and wife. Serbia won the Davis Cup. Two retired legends, both known for their dignity, trashed each other ... at a charity event. The U.S. Open men's final nearly played out on three different American television networks. James Blake and commentator Pam Shriver debated each other DURING a match. This was the same week another Wimbledon encounter finished 70-68 in the fifth set.
Otherwise, it was standard year in tennis. Serena Williams won her two majors. Kim Clijsters bagged another Slam. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal divvied up the four on the men's side. The Bryan brothers set the all-time record for doubles titles. The sport continued to expand globally, land a few sponsors and, as ever, succeed in spite of itself. So it goes.
Because "tennis offseason" might be the biggest oxymoron this side of "team of mavericks" -- apparently the offseason falls on a Tuesday this year -- we only have a few hours to squeeze in this 2010 awards show. First the cut and paste from years past: before dispensing gifts to our winners, a detour into sappiness. If you get half as much pleasure (guilty to be sure) from reading this column as I get from writing it, we're all doing pretty well. Your questions and observations are, reliably, thoughtful and informed and passionate, and please know that every last one -- even the ones wishing me incurable athlete's foot -- are read. Think of this as a sincere invitation to belly up to the bar in '11 and we'll do it again. Maybe even with podcasts thrown in for variety.
So the votes have been certified by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Jack Valenti. The envelopes please ...
We can have a debate here. But, rankings be damned, you must have won at least one major to qualify, which eliminates top-ranked Caroline Woznaicki. Serena Williams won two of the four big prizes, but she only played in three other WTA events. We'll cast our vote for
If former champion flameouts ever decided to form their own union,
Technically she returned in 2009, but we can't vote for anyone other than
It's always hard to draw lines of demarcation here, as there aren't true "rookie seasons" in tennis. But we'll cast a vote here for
This category is bit shaky, but we'll go with
Much as we'd like to tip the Indo-Pak Express -- a tidy snapshot of all that's right about tennis -- the
With the Baldwin-Bassinger-like break-up of Cara Black and Liezel Huber, the category is suddenly wide open.
Forever known as "Uncle Toni,"
Vera Zvonareva is undeniably talented. She is also undeniably -- how to put this? -- combustible. Though Zvonareva herself deserves most of the credit, her coach
Let's just retire this category.
No obvious choice, but how about the
A real highlight of the event was the success of the Indo-Pak Express, Aisam Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna, a Pakistani and an Indian, who reached the doubles final at the U.S. Open and brought all sorts of attention to their agenda of peace. If you want to contribute, check out
For all the choke jobs we've seen in big events,
We probably pick on her too much. But
Fashion Statement of the Year
Keep your tweener. We'll take
Carlos Moya, Ai Sugiyama, Elena Dementieva, Martin Damm, Guillermo Canas, Taylor Dent, Sebastien Grosjean, Dominik Hrbaty, Alberto Martin, Mariano Puerta, Paradorn Srichaphan, Peter Wessels, Mariano Zabaleta, Shenay Perry, Virginia Ruano Pascual, Mary Carillo on ESPN, tennis in New Haven, the Dusseldorf World Team Cup.
On that note, happy holidays and see you in 2011!