As written…Wednesday is mail bag day…
Some thoughts on Serena Williams and her contributions to tennis/sports/culture.
This is a completely impressionistic answer, but as someone now of a certain age, I can’t remember so little media coverage of men’s Wimbledon, perhaps since 1973 and the ATP player boycott (when Kodes finally beat Metreveli, who was from the USSR but perhaps Georgian). , if I remember correctly), and then as now the focus was mainly on who was not there.
I’m not sure, as PT Barnum was, that bad publicity is better than nothing, so it wouldn’t necessarily change with golf coverage this week, but honestly there has to be a reckoning with media interest in the tennis, to a lesser extent in the US—has declined, despite improved participation during and after COVID-19.
All the best, and good luck with coverage!
—Leif Wellington Haase
• Good shot from Metrevelli. And good observation. You can add some data to your impressionistic answer. Thanks to the Tennis Podcast, I know that the Wimbledon attendance on the first day of Monday was the smallest in 15 years. Networks that usually send television ratings press releases have gone silent. I can personally tell you that, in 20 years, I have never had fewer pre-tournament interview requests or, for that matter, pre-Wimbledon Mailbag questions.
The reasons? Who knows. Covid lethargy. A train strike that made it difficult to get here? A world recession. The absence of Roger Federer, who, even at 40, is still a ratings engine and is not in the draw for the first time this century.
I also wonder if this doesn’t reflect sport and culture in 2022. Everything has become niche. There is a core group of hardcore fans who can count on Alejandro Davidovich’s ill-conceived tweener. But there are fewer casual fans. (This is no different for bands, movies, TV shows, etc.)
For better or worse, this diminished… what? Buzz? Media coverage? Sense of relevance transfer?…has little apparent impact on finances. Attendance might be low and my mom might ask “Would I meet any of the players this year?” but walk the grounds and it’s all talk of expansion and “upgrades” and “global sponsor suites.” Strange times in sport. and media and humanity. But between TV rights, investment from new markets (watch golf), profits from sports betting and social media and committed niche fans, sports properties can still thrive without boffo ratings, boffo assist and boffo spine inches.
Casper Ruud is seeded below Matteo Berrettini. How does this make sense please?
—Jason G. Brooklyn
• Short answer: the top seeds simply follow the rankings. Longer answer: tennis is in the midst of a pitched battle pitting the Slams against the Tours. But they need to co-exist and this is Wimbledon effectively getting it right. By following the rankings, and departing from common sense in some cases, Wimbledon is effectively saying: “We are putting loyalty and legitimacy into their ranking system and therefore into their product.”
After seeing what happened with Dominic Thiem, my mind went to another great player plagued by injuries: Hyeon Chung. Have you heard anything about a possible return? Seeing him rank hovering around 500 is just absurd considering how he took the tennis world by storm in 2018.
• Chung is a real tragedy in tennis. Since he beat Djokovic and reached the semifinals in Australia in 2018, he has struggled to win matches, mainly because he has not been able to eliminate the problem of injuries. He took some time off. He tried to play through pain and keep ranking him. None helped. He is now at No. 510, he has earned less than $25,000 in 2022.
Do they just put Isner there on Court 18 by default?
• Quite. It’s kind of the perfect place. He’s not a big enough star to put on Center Court or Court One. He’s a schedule constipation, whose games often drag on (including Monday). And, of course, there is the 70-68 record and his name on the court; and was last seen losing in the French Open qualifiers.
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Jon, I missed it. What happened to Beatriz Haddad Maia? Did she lose her in the first round?
• She actually did. To Kaja Juvan, who is not far behind. What a strange month for Maia. She crushed Great Britain, won Nottingham and Birmingham and reached the semi-finals at Eastbourne before losing to Kvitova, which is more than respectable. Then, arriving like the 23rddr seed and a hot spike, crashed the first day. While we’re here… a quick word about Haddad Maia. Here is the documentation of his 2020 doping violation.
I’m remembering our discussion about Zverev and his domestic violation allegations… but at what point did we mention his doping ban? Once per game? Once per match? Never? His recent career deserves high praise. But he was also tried for cheating on his colleagues. He underlines our complicated relationship with doping. Fans and players disdain cheating and the idea that someone is cheating on the field. Then, when a player tests positive, there is often sympathy for the mitigating circumstances and disdain for the protocols.
I don’t understand [Djokovic] was allowed to play the US Open last year but not this year??? It makes zero sense.
• Do you know what doesn’t make sense? Getting out of the mix, with great damage to your reputation, by rejecting a vaccine that billions of people around the world have received. Are there inconsistencies and double standards that scratch your head? Absolutely,. But that’s true for most protocols. I don’t want to turn this into a vaccine/anti-vaccine/vax-skepticism debate. (It’s boring. Neither side is being convinced by the other. We’ve moved on to other intractably polarizing issues. “Djokovic is an anti-science narcissist.” “No wait, he’s a hero who sticks to his guns.” of the.”)
But I can’t stress the tennis angle enough: For over a decade we’ve had this GOAT debate, this captivating derby for the ages. Who would have guessed that it could become a player’s voluntary decision to withdraw from events?
• Shonn Moore writes:
Good morning, Mr. Wertheim! I don’t know if you have already mentioned the movie, “The Frenchwoman”, in any of your articles but if so, I missed it. Anyway, I saw him last night in Baltimore. The trailer synopsis describes it best: “William Klein was the first person to be granted complete and exclusive access to the tournament in its 90-year history, and using that admission to the locker rooms, television studios and player boxes , shot the latest behind-the-scenes look at the 1981 French Open, a pivotal moment in a pivotal year in a game’s history, and its iconic players Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Yannick Noah and Ivan Lendl. Klein’s usual eagle eye and whirlwind energy, The French captures the noisy hubbub that accompanies any major sporting event, while also revealing a level of candor from its subjects that is impossible to imagine in today’s secretive world. day”.
Much less significant handshakes after the game
· Virginia Ruzici and Chris Evert (-Lloyd at the time) sharing a magazine and laughing, then playing a game
The disparity in the size of the male and female trophies (is it still the case?)
· As much as I enjoy John McEnroe now, he was a torturer back then
· Bjorn was the king! The amazement he inspired in other players, his fitness and speed, the adulation of the fans, etc.
I think it’s a limited edition. The trailer:
Congratulations, Vijay Armitraj:
• The International Tennis Hall of Fame has unveiled four new exhibits, just in time for Newport’s summer season. With carefully curated selections of artifacts on display and a new interactive experience, the collections showcase items from the Hall of Fame’s personal collections, one-of-a-kind pieces of tennis-themed art, and global contributions to the sport.
Hanlon, get us out:
I wanted to post a question to the mailbox below to consider…
We need to celebrate Serena’s stunt achievements More
After seeing the excitement around Serena’s dramatic first round doubles win with Ons Jabeur at Eastbourne, why don’t we talk more often about Serena’s success in doubles? And what kind of impact should stunt doubles have on GOAT conversations?
A snapshot of Serena’s stunt career below…
– 14-0 in major finals and 23-2 in career finals
– 15+ wins over former Doubles World No. 1
– 3 Olympic gold medals in doubles
– Career doubles record 190-34
– Doubles record of 72-7 at its peak between 2008 and 2012 when Venus and Serena became No. 1 in doubles in 2010
– The most successful stunt team of this century (by far)
I recently did a deep dive of Serena doubles in my latest piece for The Tennis Tribe in case you’re interested in including it.
More tennis coverage: