Monday, June 23, 2008

Wimbledon is here!

Last year at this time I was in London and getting ready to head to Wimbledon. This year I am at my usual place--the couch--watching it on television. *sigh* Oh well, can't be there every year.

I don't have too much to say about who's going to win, prospects, potential upsets, etc. Diane at Women Who Serve provides that kind of detail. Mostly I just complain.

I think I will start with the score graphics on ESPN2. I don't like them. The horizontal banner across the top of the screen is poorly laid out.

Now on to the commentators. I heard John Feinstein this morning on NPR giving a preview of the Championships. He mentioned that defending champion Venus Williams is only seeded 7th because that is the position she currently occupies in the rankings and Wimbledon chose not to alter the seedings as they sometimes do to reflect experience, or rather, success, on grass. Feinstein seemed to think this meant she only has some outside chance of winning the title--or at least that is what I inferred from his tone. Of course, she won it last year ranked 31st (seeded 25th or 27th, I believe; I forget the exact number). More egregious however was Feinstein's response to the NPR anchor who asked why the former champion was seeded/ranked so low. "She just isn't that interested in tennis."

I am so tired of how commentators are putting this disinterest on the Williams sisters. It's old and it's not even true. How disinterested can one be to put in so much time and effort--to go through so much mentally and physically? So because they do other things besides tennis thus apparently subverting the norm of professional sports where the only thing you can possibly be interested or good at is the sport in which you are a star--they're not interested? I think one could make a better case that people like Justine Henin or Kim Clijsters who walked away from the game at relatively young ages are more disinterested in tennis--at least professional tennis. It's not a judgment on either Henin or Clijsters. It must be very difficult to stay focused and interested enough to continue to train and compete at that level. The Williams sisters have found a way to not get burned out and they get crap for it.

Moving on to one of my least favorite commentators: Brad Gilbert. He's back in the booth. Damn that Andy Murray for firing Gilbert and subjecting us all to his inane, macho, and sexist comments--again. This morning Gilbert was sporting the sweater Federer will be wearing this fortnight. It's a cable-knit cardigan in cream with gold accents. Very Wimbledon. Gilbert said something along the lines of "well it doesn't make me feel very physical, but Roger seems to be doing fine with it." Translation: it's a little faggy and only the best player in the world, and the best grasscourt player can get away with wearing it and not having me call him a pansy.

I am, however, quite pleased with the amount of coverage ESPN2 is doing. Unlike the coverage of Roland Garros, there will be plenty of tennis to see. Coverage today goes from 7am to 5pm. You know where to find me.


Diane said...

Here's something you can really complain about: Wimbledon is the only major that does adjust the seeding--but only on the men's side. Go figure. Venus should certainly have been been seeded higher.

ken said...

I thought Venus's seeding got adjusted last year. She was ranked in the 30s but I thought her seeding was in the 20s somewhere.

ken said...

The articles I found at say Venus went into last year's Wimbledon ranked 31 but was seeded 23.

Diane said...

They adjusted last year, but this year, they decided to leave the women's seeding alone. I have no idea why.

Andy Murray is upset that they seeded him as low as they did. They made Baghdatis, no. 25 in the word, the 10th seed. Why they decided to leave the women's seeding as it, I do not know.

Unknown said...

I think it's absolutely true that the Williams sisters are not that interested in tennis. This, to me, is not a negative. They have other things in their lives and are unwilling to put in the kind of prep time that they need to be in top shape starting the majors. The single-mindedness necessary to be number one for a long stretch is incredibly boring, and you have to have no personality. So screw it.

They still play their way into shape every year and can challenge for the title from any seeding. I think it just frustrates some commentators because they really should have won even more majors based on their incredible talent.