Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Injury, rain, and racquet abuse--Oh my!

Au revoir, Amelie. We'll miss you on Saturday.

I missed about a day of Wimbledon to go camping/hiking but saw the Serena Williams injury drama and some of the Nadal-Soderling 5-setter. And alas I saw Mauresmo collapse against Nicole Vaidisova. I knew this would be a tough match but I thought if Mauresmo continued to play the way she had been, she would tough it out. She let Vaidisova, who was not serving well, off the hook and into the next round.

The San Francisco Chronicle sports blog runs down yesterday's happenings where writer Bruce Jenkins gives Serena a hard time for breaking her racket. (I will get to the cries of games(wo)manship that have been swirling more furiously than the London winds in a moment.) I didn't think it was that bad. Certainly I have seen far more egregious behavior from other players--mostly men--who receive far less criticism for their actions. Marat Safin is notorious for bad behavior and I remember once Andre Agassi, in his bad boy days, breaking a racket on court and going over to his bag and taking out at least two more rackets and snapping them in half by stepping on them.

Jenkins also reports on the comments in the London papers about various players and matches including a statement by a writer from the Times who basically says Rafael Nadal is intimidating because of he is just so masculine which includes "masculine armpits." And part of it is abut the capri pants which have a long pocket allowing him to shove a ball in deep so that it resembles a "supernumeray testicle."

But of course the real stuff I missed while out in the woods was the many cries of games(wo)manship levied (see the comments on this article) against Serena Williams. A few outlyers have suggested the cramp was faked. How anyone who saw the many, nearly countless, replays that included the close-up of the seized up calf--no, they are not supposed to do that--can think that is ridiculous. Conditions at Wimbledon are perfect for cramping. The cold and damp weather combined with the toll the grass takes on your leg muscles make cramps a reality. That she took time to stretch and that she tried to jump around afterwards does not mean she was not injured. Do the people who made these comments ever actually use their own muscles? The pain from straining and cramping can be alleviated to some degree with certain treatments, but it does not make the initial injury disappear.

And then there was the bathroom break issue. I did not know about the new rule not allowing a break before the opponent's serve--clearly neither did Serena Williams. I see the attempt to curb games(wo)manship but I think that the chance of breaking momentum is greater when leaving the court at a time when no break has been scheduled--i.e. on an even-numbered game--for either player depending on who has the momentum at the moment. I was watching the match with a physical therapist who said, basically, of course she has to go to the bathroom. During the 2-hour rain delay she likely received IV fluids and drank as much water and other fluids as she could get down. She had to continue drinking on the court to stay hydrated. I don't know why Williams opted not to go before her serve but I don't think it had anything to do with trying to mess up her opponent. For better or worse, Serena Williams has always maintained that every match is all about her own performance.

Most of the comments I have read smack of aversive racism. Though I think they have done a lot for the game of women's tennis, I have never been a devoted fan of either sister. And some of things they have done in the past have been worthy of some criticism. But I haven't found their actions or words to be any more egregious than those of other players who are often protected from protracted criticism and laundry lists of past alleged mistakes by their race, class, and ethnicity.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I was outraged by the suggestion (which seems to be more popular in England than here) that Serena was faking her injury. Serena Williams does not have to fake an injury in order to change a match around, and besides--whatever criticisms we may have of her, and I have mine, too--she has never given anyone reason to think she is anything but honest.

The people who thought she faked her injury--how do they explain the swelling the size of a large lemon on her leg? Did she also give herself a quick silicone injection to make it look bad?

Serena had a bad time of it. She hurt her leg, she fell and hurt her thumb (which likely cost her her match with Henin). And yes, she broke her racquet. You mentioned Safin: One year, I think it was 2005--the same year he accused women of being too emotional--he broke close to 50 racquets. Where was the outrage?

I felt really bad for Serena; I just hope her leg is going to be okay.