Monday, November 02, 2009

Quote For The Day

"So back to my first question: What’s special about Serena’s game? There are many elements you could point to, of course, but what struck me in Doha was how the normal rules of the sport don’t seem to apply to her. She can run through an approach shot and still put it right where she wants it. She can hit a backhand winner with her body completely open and parallel to the net. She can make perfectly solid contact with a ball even she's off balance. She can get to a short ball a second late and find a way to flip it inside-out for a surprisingly angled winner.

"Her ability to do this is generally chalked up to the vague and faintly insulting term “athleticism.” And that’s got a lot to do with it, even if it is a cliché. It was said that Boris Becker couldn’t put two service tosses in a row anywhere near each other, but it didn’t matter, he was such an athlete that he just went up and crushed the ball, wherever it happened to be—the normal rules didn’t apply to him. But when it comes to the Williamses, I also think of something Andy Roddick said about the way the sisters trained as kids in Florida. He said that no one worked more diligently or hit balls with more purpose or dedication than they did. What seems like talent or god-given athleticism in a top player is always the product of work as well, work that was done long before we saw that player on TV. Serena is still living off of it. Whatever position she finds herself in as she sets up for a shot, her ability to make something out of it, to hit the ball well, remains automatic.

(...)

After a week of wild and painful drama in Doha, I found myself thinking...[w]hy can’t we have more serves like this? Why can’t we have more solid and impressive tennis? Maybe we will next year. Until then, I’m happy to leave 2009 with a reminder, six weeks after she was at her worst at the U.S. Open, of how good the women's game can look when Serena Williams is at her best." --Steve Tignor

14 comments:

Graf_sampras said...

Steve Tignor NAILED IT!


I also NAILED IT -- and no one should argue otherwise:

SERENA WILLIAMS is the GREATEST PLAYER of the last decade - man or woman. PERIOD.

she - as an athlete and tennis player and champion is among the TRUE elites of the game in history..and not SUBJECT to "rules" or "classification"

perhaps - along with Pancho Gonzales - the ONLY player of that calibre among the All-Time Greats.

The WIlliamses may have PLANNED to make great champs...

but Serena Williams in particular went beyond EVEN papa william's wildest designs

she is in a category ALL BY HERSELF!

Karen said...

I was about to tinyurl this and put it over here but I see Craig beat me to it. That was an awesome post by Steve. These days most tennis journalists do not write very many articles praising the women's tour. Sometimes what they write makes fan like me of women's tennis shake my head and move right along, but this was a great piece of writing by Steve. He mentioned Carillo's comment about "I want more of this". Sometimes I can see Carillo's point in the way she criticises the Williamses, but she just has to accept the fact that they will do it their own way and not how we as fans would like it to be.

Craig Hickman said...

Karen,

Great minds....

More recently Mary C wants Serena banned from the sport for a year.

Steve wrote the hell out of that.

Karen said...

Do you know what I can never understand why is it that Sharapova is considered a fashonista and Serena is not. Look at the pictures of this woman who just went through 5 gruelling days of playing tennis, ended up looking like Rick James, and was able to fly transcontinental and come out looking like this for a book signing: http://concreteloop.com/2009/11/random-pics-serena-williams-book-signing-in-london#comments

Karen said...

Without Serena in the WTA, we know what that was like. I can tell you that I cannot recall who won many of the tournaments that year. I remember the AO, because Justine retired, dont remember who won the French, Wimbledon, Amelie because she played Justine (now that I am typing I think Justine won the French) and the US Open because I remember the screeching of Sharapova when I was on my way out to a party. Never did watch that particular match. Too much of the hype was making me sick.

Karen said...

Is the book that she is marketing called "Queen of the Court" the same as "On the Line". I know sometimes what a book is called in the UK is called something different in the US. I bought On the Line. It was a good read but she was very closed in certain parts of it and open in others. Good read.

elisse said...

Nice article.
Where can I find Mary C's comments.
She seems to be going far and above in punishing Serena, although she sat silently while her friend and former partner JohnnyMac did some less than favorable things...where was the outrage then?

Graf_sampras said...

Gritty Serena confounds critics

Tue Nov 03 11:34AM
Serena Williams Serena Williams has shown everyone that she lacks no desire or character in playing through immense humidity and pain to win the WTA Championships in Doha.

I think Serena has always tried her best, but sometimes in tournaments outside the Grand Slams she cannot find the adrenaline she needs. This can lead to some people harshly questioning her temperament or hunger, which is utterly ridiculous.

In many ways this was her most commendable performance of the year because she played through a lot of pain and showed tremendous desire to win.

It was a super display from Serena to beat her sister Venus in the final and round off a very challenging and gruelling tournament.

The Williams sisters' match on Wednesday was extremely poor, and sometimes they simply have too much respect for each other. There is occasionally a macho element between the pair and their games suffer.

But in Doha, it was a splendid final and not like the shoot-outs their encounters can often be: both played sensibly and provided a fine spectacle.

I think it is of huge significance for the players who ends the year as world number one, and Serena is no different.

Being on top of the world at the end of the year is something which goes down in history and Serena has, quite astonishingly, only achieved that once before.

Clearly the American was utterly determined to secure the number one spot and, even after she had achieved it midway through the tournament, she kept the fire burning within her.

Serena was clearly in a great deal of pain with her leg very heavily strapped, but her focus and resilience - in spite of the injury - made her victory all the more impressive.

She was wincing at her sister Venus on many occasions and Doha looked like a casualty ward by the end of the tournament: everyone will be relieved to end the year now.

It is good for the game to have both Williams sisters busting a gut out there and, although sometimes they cannot give of their best, they found the motivation required to keep a high intensity.

In the context of Serena's career as a whole, 2002-03 has to be seen as her golden period when she won four consecutive Grand Slams.

Back then she was the best player in the world by a country mile and if she had kept that focus she could have utterly dominated women's tennis for a good three or four years.

I do not think Serena is capable of finding that level again because with Kim Clijsters and Justin Henin returning, and Maria Sharapova finding a resurgence, she has some stiff opposition.

We are not embarking on a period of dominance which we saw in 2002 from Serena, and there is no way that she will be able to sustain such a high level and stay injury free all the time.

That said, she has impressed everyone with her grit and determination in Doha and women's tennis is lucky to have her showing such commitment and desire.

The American thoroughly deserves to end the year as the world number one and her effort or dedication should never be brought into question again.

Graf_sampras said...

"THE AMERICAN THOROUGHLY deserve".......etc. etc. etc.


there is really only one matter important:

Serena ALWAYS deserved every title and high ranking.

it's the others that have been questionable...although they also "deserved" it.

certain critics, shame on them. after all these years -- they still can't accept the fact that Serena and sometimes venus...simply makes a Fool of them with their detractions.

PERIOD.

Graf_sampras said...

MARY C calling for serena's banning

is the height of hypocrisy.

and an admission of FEAR that serena williams has just been and can continue to be

simply TOO GOOD for their chickens.

compared to the others - she's a Peregrine Falcon to their Ducks..

Graf_sampras said...

all i can say for myself:

ALL these many years of WTA tennis...i have largely abandoned any real interest in it --and only really "wake up" when Serena or Venus are around. that about sums up my WTA .

Craig Hickman said...

I've been reading so much about Serena can't continue to win because the Belgians and Maria.

Ever since Maria Sharapova beat Serena twice in 2004, it's been 5-2 Serena, both in H2H and number of Slams won.

It took a Clijsters without expectations to finally beat Serena in a Slam. How will she fare when people now expect her to?

And I'll believe Henin can win again when I see it.

Of course, if they decide to ban Serena from a few Slams.....

Craig Hickman said...

elisse, Mary's comments were from the broadcast booth.

MMT said...

"What seems like talent or god-given athleticism in a top player is always the product of work as well, work that was done long before we saw that player on TV."

I agree with this, but I also think that if her technique improved in certain areas, particularly footwork and preparation, she'd probably go undefeated and/or win the calendar slam.

I think the author is stretching it when extolling the virtues of her touch game, but that doesn't mean anything to me - her results are undeniable.