No, this hasn't beocme a Serena Williams fansite. But when Serena plays three events three weeks in a row after an injury plagued summer, and qualifies for the Season Ending Championships in Madrid on the strength of her European indoor performances, not to mention her Australian Open and Miami crowns, as well as her run to the quarterfinals of the other Slams, well, she's bound to get a lot of ink on any tennis site this time of year.
I promise that coverage of the Madrid Masters on the ATP, which I'm happy to be watching on TTC from my home television, is forthcoming - forgive me for not being able to do a preview while I was in Pittsburgh at a conference - as is my take on the terracotta warriors sculptures of those men who qualify for The Masters Cup in Shanghai, the top three of which were on already on display this week in Madrid already.
But back to my girl. Here's what she had to say upon receiving the news that she'd qualified:
"I'm delighted and surprised to have made it to the Sony Ericsson Championships. When I started the year, I honestly never thought I would be in the position I am in now with a Grand Slam title under my belt and getting closer to playing some great tennis. I thought I missed my chance by not playing this summer but I have been really excited to be playing in Europe the last few weeks and I made it sooner than I thought. I am dying to visit Madrid, a city I have never been to before, and making the Sony Ericsson Championships is a double bonus for me. It's going to be great!"
Not too shabby for a player playing with almost no confidence right now. (And here comes my Tuesday Tirade, after all...)
In her final against Elena Dementieva, Serena was as bad as ElenaD was good. Seems to me those three straight losses in the quarterfinals of Slams to her nemesis/archrival have more than knocked the wind out of Serena. And as fans of this sport, I can't see how anyone would overlook the impact of those losses, whether you love, hate, or are ambivalent about Serena.
And surrounding and in the midst of those losses, she has been dealing with some very unlucky injuries. Injuries that killed the momentum gathering in her year after Melbourne and Miami. We know how important momentum is in a sport such as tennis. Any sport, really.
A context that hasn't even been mentioned.
And yet, within this context, Serena advanced to her first final since Miami, at a Tier 1 event which she hadn't played since her tour debut 10 years ago, no less, defeating some solid players to get there, and she's being raked over the coals by fans and commentators alike (Corina Morariu needs not ever commentate a Serena match again - she was nothing short of nasty) for being heavy and unfit and for not being able to win the title over a player many seem to admire a whole lot more? After which she even had the gall to say that ElenaD played a fantastic match?
Serena is doing exactly what her staunchest critics have almost demanded: she's taking tennis seriously, playing week in and week out, even with heavy strapping on her right thigh, and she'll be back at the championships for her first appearance since 2004 when an abdominal strain kept her from hoisting her second YEC trophy.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the her naysayers have to say about this come Madrid if Serena remains healthy enough to compete well there.