July 1, 2016

Indian Wells CEO Issues Apology for Sexist Comments; Serena Williams Reacts

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(March 20, 2016) At the BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore told the media in a Sunday morning news conference that WTA players “ride on the coattails of the men.”  Here are some excerpts from the news conference:

 

How about the WTA side? Now you are one of the four premier mandatory. Would you like to be set apart from the other tournaments, as well, or are you happy…
RAYMOND MOORE: No, I think the WTA — you know, in my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, (laughter) because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky.

If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.

And now the mantle is being handed over to Djokovic and Murray and some others. You know, that’s good. We have no complaints. You know, we pay equal prize money. Do all those things. We don’t have any complaints.

But we are one of the four premier mandatory events. They haven’t said anything about changing that system.

Q. This used to be a three-man show. Now it’s a one-man show. Does that mean you never needed those two other guys (Laughter)? How have you reengineered this whole thing?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, you know, Bill, to answer that, I think last year I had my 35th birthday, and now look what I look like. Steve leaving me here has contributed to my aging.

No, listen, you know, Charlie and Steve and myself and other people, everyone is passionate about this event. We sat and discussed concepts, where we wanted to go, and we are all at one.

If Charlie, Steve, and I were in here there would be no disagreements on concept and what we want to do with the sport.

Q. You said that there were six superstars in this game. I presume that’s four top men.
RAYMOND MOORE: Yes.

Q. And Serena?
RAYMOND MOORE: And Maria.

Q. Now Maria is out of the picture for…
RAYMOND MOORE: For a while.

Q. For a while. What’s that say about a sport that has one superstar?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, I don’t think you can look at it that way. I mean, Maria is a superstar. She’s an incredible superstar. Well-known throughout the world, everywhere. She may be sidelined for a while. She made a huge mistake and hopefully she doesn’t pay that price, you know, the ultimate price, career-ending suspension or anything like that.

So we sit and wait for a while or to make a decision and give their judgment.

But Serena and Maria are superstars. In the world, they are by far the two best-known female athletes, no question.

Q. What does it say that there isn’t enough competition for them?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, you know, it’s just one of those things where one lady has come in and dominated. You know, you can’t provide for that. Serena, as I said earlier, is arguably the best female player of all time. Certainly has always been in the conversation for maybe the top three. Some people may say Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, Chrissie, Martina. I think those are the five.

But she’s in there. If she stays healthy and interested, I think she’s going to beat Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam take.

But you know what? I think the WTA have a handful – not just one or two – but they have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle. You know, Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies tennis has improved unbelievably.

Q. By attractive, you mean physically attractive or competitively attractive?
RAYMOND MOORE: No, no, no, I don’t — I mean both. They are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop.

I think they’ve got — they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.

Q. Your attendance is probably not going to go above last year.
RAYMOND MOORE: Right.

Q. Why is that? Is it obvious it’s Federer and Sharapova? How do you take an event like this and continue to grow it when that number gets so big?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, it’s always hard when you get a huge number to increase on it.

This year our number is not quite as big as last year, but it’s very, very close. There are a number of factors. You know, we lost two days at the beginning. We lost Monday, the first Monday when it was cold, and we had 5,000 less people that day.

Big night, the Salute to Heros night when Serena was playing. We had rain at a terrible time; 5:00 to 7:00 it rained. That’s when people would be coming out to see the matches.

The afternoon session had to be extended. Serena, instead of playing at 7:00 was playing at 9:00. Walkup crowd wasn’t what we expected. We thought we would have a sellout crowd that night. All indications were we would have.

So we lose those two sessions. Then, you know, there’s no doubt about it, Roger and Maria not being there, I mean, to improve on that number we need walkup crowd to support us. Walkup is dependent on the matchups, who can play.

And, you know, as a tournament director when you’re doing the schedule and you’ve got two superstars at your disposal, I could put Roger one night and Maria another night. It changes the attendance equation.

And then there are a whole bunch of other factors. We don’t know how much they weigh into the stock market crash; the Canadian dollar is so low. You go through all these factors. They are all one spoke in the wheel of reaching major attendance records.

But having said all of that, I think we’re gonna be roundabout 40,000 people, which is right on the heels of last year’s.

So the way I look at it, this is the second-highest attendance we have ever had in 41 years of the tournament. So I’m very, very happy with the attendance numbers.

 

If a couple years ago we were sitting at this wonderful breakfast and chat and someone said, Well, Steve will be gone in a couple of years, and the tournament’s not going to have Maria and it’s not going to have Roger; Serena and Venus will be playing. What would you say and just talk about the change of life.
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, you know, things change. You have to adapt. And just now that you just jogged my memory, another thing that happened with us with attendance, we lost 15 seeded lady players in the first round, including Caroline Wozniacki and other like superstars that could have helped us.

But that happens. Venus. Venus lost in the first round. You know, would have helped us greatly if Venus had gone deep in the tournament. When we did the draw I saw she was in the same section as Serena, so if she had won through the two of them would have played in the 16s, I think.

Think if we put Serena against Venus at night that we wouldn’t have had a sellout? Sure we would have.

That’s what I’m saying. That’s what happens. We’ve got a really solid fan base. To get to those little extra numbers, you need to have the matchups with the players. That’s unpredictable.

 

Serena Williams, who lost the final to Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 was asked to react to Moore’s comments after the match in her news conference:

 

You just shared a beautiful moment on the court with CEO Raymond Moore, and he said earlier today, quote, if I was a lady player, I would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born. They have carried the sport. What’s your reaction to that comment and the controversy it’s created?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t understand why I always have to answer questions about controversy like this (laughter.) Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.

I think Venus, myself, a number of players have been — if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister, I couldn’t even bring up that number. So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement.

I think there is a lot of women out there who are more — are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.

Q. Do you feel like there is maybe a misunderstanding behind how people are interpreting that in some way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, if you read the transcript you can only interpret it one way. I speak very good English. I’m sure he does, too.

You know, there’s only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.

 

You have led women, and Venus also, have led women through a lot of struggles. Are you surprised in 2016 that’s issues and complaints and sexism are still cropping up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I’m still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour that’s done well. Last year the women’s final at the US Open sold out well before the men. I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.

So I just feel like in order to make a comment you have to have history and you have to have facts and you have to know things. You have to know of everything. I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women’s players but women’s athletes in general.

So I feel like, you know, that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet, that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw it? You said you saw the transcript.
SERENA WILLIAMS: “Really?”

Q. How did it come to your attention?
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughter.)

Actually, I love that quote.

How did it come to my attention? Well, unfortunately, you know, sometimes we — if someone makes irrational comments or if something unfortunate goes on in the sport, you know, everyone hears about it. I’m on social media enough to hear about it.

So, yeah.
 

The BNP Paribas Open issued a statement from Tournament Director and CEO Raymond Moore:

 

“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous. I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologize to all the players and WTA as a whole. We had a women’s final today that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks.”

 

Victoria Azarenka:

Q. I must do my job and ask you whether you heard the comments that Mr. Moore made.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I did.

Q. As a woman who has put all you have into this sport, could you reflect on those, please?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it’s something that, again, we have to work through as women. Men don’t get those comments. I don’t want to address or insult anybody like we got a little bit.

But I have just spoken to Paul, [sic] and he apologized. My thing is I don’t understand any man comments in general towards women, because as simple as that, every single person on earth was brought and was born by a woman, right?

Right?

Q. Absolutely.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think that’s a good comment and I think people should remember that sometimes.

Q. I want to also ask you this as someone who has followed you with great joy.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thank you.

Q. Throughout your career. Let’s face it. You and other women were criticized harshly for the sounds they made on court, while men, from Jimmy Connors onward, basically were not. Did that ever cross your mind, that there was a gender difference and a response there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it’s still a problem in the world. It’s not just in sports. It’s in business. We try to talk about the equality. Sometimes it just gets unrecognized. I think what women do best is rise above those comments. You don’t hear complaints or bad comments towards men.

From my perspective, if we rise above that and keep working hard in everything we do, we’re better. We’re better at taking opportunities and being graceful. Why do you have to make the comment? Who cares? Who cares? Simple as that. Just to make more drama or jokes?

I mean, if that makes that person feel better or bigger or whatever, it’s a pretty sad person, I think. Because if you’re happy you don’t care what other people do. You just take care of you.

I think that’s more important to focus on us. That’s what women players and examples like Venus and Serena and other players have been doing for — you know, we got it from Billie Jean King where she proved everybody, Hey, look at me. I started something, so let’s go after it.

So I think it’s our duty to keep just working hard through whatever comments there is. We’ve got to rise above that.

Q. You commented about the grunting at Wimbledon last year, your reaction to it. Do you think this is something you have embraced more as you have gotten older in this sport, embracing this role as being a leader for women through your status as a top athlete?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I believe in giving back to a sport that gave me so much. I’m very passionate. I see how hard it is to make something out of yourself and stand your ground, so I believe that it’s my duty for players maybe after me or during this time to really have this respect for our sport.

I think that comes with it. Through the years, yeah. The comments, the grunting. I, don’t care about this. I could give less of shit about it.

Because to me, I work my butt off on the court to try to win the match. And whatever it takes, I’m going to do it.

Q. Do you think that Raymond Moore’s apology is a little disingenuous given the nature of the comments he made just a few hours previously?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I’m trying not to think about it. As all my other comments, I’m not gonna bring somebody down. I’m just gonna rise above that.

Today I think it was a great match. It was a great day for women’s sport. Isn’t it international happiest day or something like this? That’s what I heard. Why can’t we just be happy and enjoy and support each other, because that’s what the world is missing a little bit.

It’s the support towards each other. Not just bashing and, oh, who is prettier or who is this, who has more, who has less.

Let’s just take care of each other.

 

 

Novak Djokovic:

Q. The tournament director, Ray Moore – there was some controversy today – saying women players should go down on their knees and thank the men for carrying the sport. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that comment.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Smiling.) I don’t know what to say. I heard about it. Obviously it’s a very delicate and sensitive subject to talk about. Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years.

I have been through that process, as well, so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that.

I applaud them for that. I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve, and they got it. On the other hand, I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more, because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches.

I think that’s one of the, you know, reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. But, again, you know, we can’t complain because we also have great prize money in men’s tennis is at the right moment in the right time.

Look, I don’t know what Raymond Moore was exactly referring to when he was saying that, but this is all I can say from my perspective.

Q. But you don’t think the prize money should be equal if it was up to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Listen, again, my answer to you is not yes and no. It’s women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve. I think as long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available and information, you know, upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.

Q. So if the stats show at some point that women’s tennis attracts more tennis, men should get less?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Q. One of the great things about our sport is not only WTA and ATP, but the entire interaction of men and women in this global sport, do you think you’d be here today without your first coach, Jelena?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I wouldn’t be. That’s why — you know, don’t get me wrong. As I said, I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving.

It’s knowing what they have to go through with their bodies, and their bodies are much different than men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details. Ladies know what I’m talking about.

But it’s really for great admiration and respect for them to be able to fight on such a high level. Many of them, you know, they kind of have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, you know, the family time or decisions that they make with their own bodies, you know, in order to play the tennis and to play the professional sport.

So I appreciate that. I have had a woman that was my coach, and that was a huge part of my tennis career. I’m surrounded with women. I’m very happy obviously to be married with one and to have a child. (Smiling.)

I’m completely for women power.

Q. Do you think the language that Ray Moore used was offensive? He said that if I was a lady player I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think we — yeah, we have to be fair to say that it’s not politically correct. I mean, it was maybe exaggerated a little bit, but that’s just my opinion.

21 March 2016

ATP Statement Regarding Raymond Moore’s Comments & Equal Prize Money

Following Raymond’s Moore recent comments, ATP Executive Chairman & President Chris Kermode said:

“Ray Moore’s comments towards women’s tennis were disparaging and made in poor taste, as Ray has subsequently acknowledged. The ATP fully supports equality across society, while at the same time acknowledging that we operate in the sports & entertainment business. The ATP seeks to achieve fair compensation for its players by setting minimum prize money levels for ATP events in accordance with the revenues that are generated from men’s professional tennis. The ATP also respects the right of tournaments to make their own decisions relating to prize money for women’s tennis, which is run as a separate Tour.”

 

Statement by Katrina Adams, Chairman of the Board, CEO and President, USTA, in response to the comments of Raymond Moore:

“The USTA and the US Open hold player equality as one of our bedrock principles. As the first Grand Slam to award equal prize money, we have endeavored to lead the way for gender equality in sports. We appreciate the hard work and incredible skill demonstrated by all those at the professional level, and the USTA hopes these tremendous athletes help to inspire the next generation of boys’ and girls’ players in this country. There is no place in this sport for antiquated, sexist or uninformed ideologies, and the comments made yesterday in no way reflect the beliefs of the vast majority of those in the tennis world.”

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No. 53 Federico Delbonis Surprises No. 2 Andy Murray in Third Round of BNP Paribas Open

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(March 14, 2016)  INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 2 Andy Murray lost to No. 53 Federico Delbonis 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday in a two-hours and 46 minutes.

The southpaw from Argentina trailed 1-4 to the Brit in the third set, won five of the next six games to serve for the match at 6-5. Murray broke Delbonis’ serve to get to a tiebreak which Delbonis won 7-3 to get the biggest victory of his career. Murray’s loss is the biggest upset of the men’s tournament so far.

“Obviously a tough one to lose in the end, having, you know, kind of fought hard to get myself in a winning position you know, 4-1-up,” Murray said.

“The 4-2 game that I got broken was a tough one in the third set. I was up 30-Love in the game and had a few volleys in that game. You know, he came out with some good passing shots. I could have done a bit more with the volleys maybe.

“But, yeah, I didn’t play a great tiebreak. That was disappointing. Obviously he had the chance to serve it out, and then I got back in there and didn’t play a great breaker.”

Murray has not had a great history at Indian Wells, with his best result coming in 2009 when reached the final. “I think it’s just the conditions here I have just struggled with throughout my career. I have never really felt that I played my best tennis here.

“I have tried and had many different preparations where I’ve got here early and spent a lot of time on the courts, and sometimes I arrive later, like this time from Davis Cup. You know, obviously it takes time to get used to new conditions regardless of where it is, but I have just never really found a way to get comfortable here throughout my career.

“It’s a shame.”

 

Asked if this was his biggest win, Delbonis said: “No, I have like a couple of big wins, but in situation was special, you know. For that tournament, for that surface, for me is the best win.

“And, well, I have — I was like quiet all the match that I know he wants to be aggressive in that third set. I don’t do it my job until the 4-1. I have to play it more to his forehand.

“That, when I do that, I can break. I can play from the 4-2 to the tiebreak and I get a big win for that, you know.

“I have another one (win). The title in Sao Paulo I think is the best one.”

Delbonis did beat Roger Federer when he was No. 5 in the world three years ago in Hamburg.

Asked about his strategy to hit to Murray’s forehand, the Argentine commented: I know that his backhand is pretty good when he’s quiet, you know, in one side. I know that I have to play, hit harder in his forehand to get a good hit or a good position the court, to be aggressive or to move it to him, because this is one of the keys to get a good point.”

“I feel good the surface because it’s not too fast,” he said. “For me, I can slice in that kind of court. I like it. Also, I like it in Australia. Every tournament I come this year I like it so much. I like to play in that kind of court, in that hard courts not so fast.

“For me it’s a good court to be aggressive.”

For Murray, this is the first tournament he has played as a father. February 7, his wife Kim gave birth to a baby girl named Sophia.

A couple of surprises on the women’s side of the draw included former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, seeded 14 lost to 18th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-0 and No. 7 Belinda Bencic was on the short end of a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 score to unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova. With all of the upsets on the women’s side, No. 9 seed Roberta Vinci, who beat 17th seed Elina Svitolina, remains the highest seed in the bottom half of the draw.

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet won 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 over Alexandr Dolgopolov. No. 12 seed Milos Raonic advanced when 17th seed Bernard Tomic retired with a right wrist injury down. 6-2, 3-0. Tomic’s injury puts a question mark on his participation at the Miami Open.

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Notable Quotables from Pre-Wimbledon Weekend with Djokovic, Serena Williams, Federer, Sharapova, Nadal and Others

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(June 28, 2015) Saturday and Sunday some of Wimbledon’s top seeds held court with the media, here is a look at some of the notable quotables:

Defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic on recovering from losing a mentally tough French Open final:

“Yes, it was. Not just Roland Garros, but all the five months of the year have been really intense for me.  I played a big amount of matches.  Before Roland Garros, I’ve lost only two.  I had one of the best season starts in my career.  Of course, Roland Garros finals wasn’t easy.

 

“All in all, it was another great tournament.  But I needed some time to just mentally recover, rest ‑ more than physical rest, I needed that emotional, mental rest to recharge my batteries and get myself in a proper state of mind so I can start all over again.”

 

 

“I mean, right after I lost the match, of course, there was this sense of disappointment. There is no doubt about it.  I felt that for, you know, some days after it.

 

“Because I have a family, I have different things in life, different interest, I’ve managed to move on because of the experience that I talked about previously of learning how to handle these particular situations and circumstances. I managed to get the necessary reset in my mind.”

 

 

Djokovic says that coaching from the player’s box is fairly common:

“We can’t pretend like that’s not happening in tennis.  Of course, there’s situations when it happens, and not just with the top players, with everybody.  This is a very competitive sport.  You’re alone on the court.  Of course, there’s certain rules.

 

“But also there are times when, you know, the team of the player communicates with the player when he gets to go and take the towel in the corner, which is closer to the box, or, you know, different ways.

 

“I think it’s all fine as long as it’s not regular.  I think it just depends.  Also that’s up to the chair umpire or supervisor to decide if somebody’s breaking the rules or not.  I think as long as it’s something that you can tolerate, let’s say, within the ways of communication, I think it’s fine.”

 

He was also asked about his communication with his coach Boris Becker. Earlier in the day Becker was on radio saying that he has ways of telling Djokovic whether what he is doing is good or bad.

 

“I don’t think that we’re cheating.  I don’t think that’s how you can call it.  I mean, there are special ways of, I would say, communication.  As he mentioned, the way you look at each other, the way you feel your box, and box feels what you’re going through on the court. I think that’s something that just gives you that reassurance, gives you that confidence.

 

“It’s not necessary that, you know, he tells me where to serve or to which side of the opponent’s court I have to play, because that doesn’t happen.  But it’s more of a, you know, encouragement, and more of a support and reassurance, as I said, that’s basically present in those moments.”

 

In what seemed to be the most awkward questions of the weekend, defending champion Petra Kvitova was asked about wearing white on court while menstruating.

 

Q. Heather Watson was applauded earlier this year for breaking taboo and talking about what was phrased as girly things.  How much do you think that affects other females’ players game?

 

PETRA KVITOVA:  To be honest, I think it’s quite tough.  Of course, I have these experiences from before.  It’s never really easy to deal with one more tough thing.  I think always the beginning of this kind of period, it’s tough.  I think that for normal woman, they know about.  If we have to play the match or training or something, it’s difficult.

 

It’s one more extra thing for us.

Q. Does having to wear white as well…

PETRA KVITOVA:  No, I think it’s fine.

 

 

Roger Federer on Serena Williams’ playing at such a high level:

 

“I’m not surprised.  I just think she’s a great talent.  She’s worked also very hard.  I think to be mentally ready for the challenge when she wants to be up for it, I think that’s what’s so admirable about her.

 

“Also Venus, I must say.  We don’t talk about Venus that often because Serena has been so dominant.  Actually that they’re both still playing is more of a surprise to me.

 

“But that they are playing, it doesn’t surprise me they’re actually playing well.  It goes hand‑in‑hand.

 

“I wouldn’t imagine them still playing and playing poorly.  Let’s put it that way.  They’re too good for that.”

 

Serena Williams was asked about coming into Wimbledon holding the first two majors, make her preparation different or make her feel any different.

“Personally, uhm, it doesn’t make it feel any different, which I think is a good thing ’cause I don’t feel any pressure to win all four.  I’ve been saying that, but I really don’t feel that pressure.  Maybe if I would happen to win here, then maybe I might start feeling it after that.

“Ultimately, I’m taking it one day at a time and I’m not thinking that far.”

 

Serena is very motivated this year:

“I think the fact that I lost so early the past couple years definitely makes me motivated.  But I think that also gives me a little less pressure because I haven’t done well here in the past two years.  It makes me feel like, Okay, I’ll be fine.  I have nothing to lose here.  I don’t have many points to defend here.  So it’s just like trying to have fun, go through it.”

 

The 20-time major champion talked about her biggest strength:

“I think for me being mentally tough is probably my biggest strength.  And my dad always said growing up, you know, Tennis is so mental, you have to have your mental, you have to be really mentally tough.  I guess I really took that to heart.

“I think also being the youngest of five really made me have to scrap and be tougher.  I think all those things kind of played into action.

“Yeah, I think that’s probably one of the biggest things in tennis.  It’s great to have a big serve, too.  But I think ultimately sometimes when you’re down and out, you could be the best player in the world, you still get down, but you have to be able to come back.”

 

She actually hates playing on grass:

“You know, oddly enough, it never has been my favorite surface, but I’ve always done really well here.  I think my game is really suited for the grass.

“You know, yeah, it’s never been someplace like, I love playing on the grass, which is just really weird.  But, again, my game works for it, so…”

 

 

Maria Sharapova on Serena:

“She’s certainly the player to beat.  With all the confidence in the world having won the last three majors, not just the two in this year.  I think those results speak for herself, and she’s certainly the one to beat.”

 

 

Andy Murray was asked about the “feminine influence” on his life – marriage and hiring Amelie Mauresmo.

 

“I mean, I’ve said as well, it’s not so much marriage.  Me and Kim have been together like 10 years now, so…

 

“You know, she’s always been a huge support to me, especially when I’ve gone through, you know, tough, tough times as well.  She’s always been there for me.

 

“Obviously, yeah, I mean, Amélie, really the last sort of 12 months that I’ve been with her, I feel like I’ve come through some difficult moments.  I feel last year, there was ‑ not me, myself ‑ I know there were a lot of people doubting me.  I feel like she stuck with me during that period.

 

“I had an extremely tough loss at the end of last year.  She was one of the people that really, yeah, stuck by me and supported me.

 

“I’m glad that I’ve been able to kind of repay her faith in me with some good tennis this year.

 

“Obviously she’s a very different character to some of the coaches that I’ve had in the past.  I’ve really enjoyed working with her.”

 

Rafael Nadal on the current problems of the Spanish Tennis Federation.

“The situation have been very unusual, let’s say, not nice for a country that has big tradition in this sport, for a country that the last, let’s say, 15, 20 years, we have been the first country in this sport around the world.  So is not nice to watch the situation that we are having today.  But things are like this.

“The thing that we have to do is to stop these crazy things that are happening.  You know, it’s not good to see bad news on our sport in the media every day.  It’s not good for our sport.  It’s not good to catch sponsors.  It’s not good to make the people involved on our sport.

“So all these kind of things are bad for everybody.  At the end of the day, you know, we are here today.  We will live tomorrow.  Players, presidents, everybody who is making this show last couple of months, what really suffers on all of this is tennis, tennis in our country.

“All the things that goes against tennis in our country is a bad news.”

Stan Wawrinka the fashion icon:

Are you surprised by how much of a fashion icon you became after the French Open?

STAN WAWRINKA:  It’s not me, my shorts (laughter).

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Martina Navratilova Talks French Open on Tennis Channel Media Conference Call

Navratilova

(May 20, 2015) Ahead of the French Open, which begins on Sunday, May 24, Tennis Channel held a media conference call with tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, who serves as the lead women’s analyst for the network.

Here is the transcript of the conference call, courtesy of the Tennis Channel and ASAPsports:

There’s a lot of increased scrutiny of late for even for minor tournaments. Time was that there was almost no attention paid to them and all attention was paid to the majors. And do you think that that scrutiny on these tune‑ups heightens the stakes for when the majors come out, like Roland‑Garros?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I’m not sure I understand the question. You’re saying there’s too much media attention on the Grand Slams and not on anything else?

No, I think when you were playing tennis, there wasn’t a lot of attention, media attention ‑‑ they didn’t broadcast minor tennis events.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, it’s the other way around. It’s the other way around, actually. In my opinion we had, it was the Tour that really buttressed the Grand Slams and certainly the players, we didn’t even play some Grand Slams because the Tour was the more important bit of the calendar. And it was only really in the late, maybe, ’80s and the ’90s that the Grand Slams became so powerful and players would schedule their whole year around slams. Nobody would even think of missing a slam now.

And those are the four big focal points of the year, whereas in my time it was Wimbledon and U.S. Open and the Tour as a whole and then the year‑ending championships was the third biggest tournament of the year. So I think the media did pay attention to the other tournaments and certainly the players were thinking that the other tournaments were more important, perhaps, than they are now.

And why was that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Why? Because there was more prize money in the regular tournaments than Grand Slams. Once the Grand Slams got bigger and got more money, more people paid attention to where the money is, basically. And also more worldwide television rights and media attention and all that.

So one kind of followed the other. I’m not sure what came first, the chicken and the egg thing, but we would get more money for, I think the prize money at the year‑end championships was like twice as much and that was for one week than what you would get in a Grand Slam for two weeks. You can do some research on the prize money, but it was a lot more on the regular tour.

I made more money winning a tournament in Dallas, Virginia Slims of Dallas, than I would at a Grand Slam ‑‑ than I would Wimbledon. When I won Wimbledon in ’78 I got, I think, $20,000 for winning it.

 

I suppose, Martina, that the focal point coming into the French Open is the prospects of Rafa Nadal. What have you seen this year in Rafa, what is he lacking that he hasn’t in the past and has age finally taken its toll on him?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don’t know how much of it is ‑‑ I think it’s a little bit of everything. He seems to me a little bit less physically looking imposing. And I don’t know if it’s just my imagination. Just doesn’t seem to be as muscular as he was five or six years ago.

 

But he’s still in the prime of his physical life, maybe he trains differently maybe because of his injuries he can’t train as hard as he used to, but not sure.

 

Most of all I think it’s the other players are playing better and hitting a lot more top spin on the ball, hitting the ball harder, which does not give him the time to run around his backhand and dictate with the forearm, he has to kind of be more in the middle of the court.

 

He can’t park himself on the right side of the court. And also by his own admission, he gets more nervous now. And when he does get more nervous, his forehand goes shorter. Even when he does get to hit the forehand, he doesn’t hit it as deep, with as much, with as much depth and maybe power.

 

I’m not sure. You would have to kind of figure out the revolutions per minute. But I would bet dollars to donuts that the other players are using more spin than they did two years ago, 10 years ago, certainly. So that could be a combination of everything.

 

Was his effectiveness on clay a factor of how much top spin he could put on the ball and the fact that the ball dug in so great?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: His movement and the top spin, yeah. Because of the top spin, players had a hard time attacking it and getting on top of the ball. And once they get on the defense, it was really hard to get off it. And his unbelievable speed around the court.

 

But do you still think he’s anywhere near the prime of his career at this point?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it could be that he’s just having a bad year or bad six months, whatever. We don’t know if he’s 100 percent healthy because only he knows that and his team.

 

So people tend to write people off too soon I think in my opinion. I mean, Roger Federer said himself, until Rafa loses at the French he still has to be a favorite. You can’t just throw out the last 10 years based on the last few months.

 

But certainly he’s, I’m sure, feeling most vulnerable. And he’s looking most vulnerable. And that gives the other guys confidence when they play him. Before it was, like, I don’t want to get embarrassed playing Rafa and now they think they have a chance. That’s a huge edge to them. Now he’s forced to play even better to beat the same guy.

 

So it’s kind of a nasty spiral that happens. But I still wouldn’t write him off. I mean, you can’t. You just cannot. Three out of five is a different animal as well. It’s harder to keep up that kind of intensity and physical play that it takes to beat Rafa over three out of five sets as opposed to two out of three ‑‑ and gives him some room for his own game as well.

 

I know we don’t have a draw yet, but who do you favor as winning on the men’s side and the women’s side in singles?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think so much will depend on the draw in both of these. But particularly on the men’s side, with Rafa, I believe he’s ranked 7. So he could be playing these top three players in the quarters as opposed to the semis or finals.

That makes it difficult for whosever quarter he lands in and everything else how it plays out as well. Andy Murray now is looking like one of the favorites as well. Novak obviously is a huge favorite to win the event. But I’m sure that he’s not thinking that way, not yet. Not as long as Rafael Nadal is in the tournament.

 

So it’s really going to depend on who gets hot and how the draw plays out. The same time you only have to play seven guys. You don’t have to play everybody. But still the draw may dictate a lot in how the conditions are, the balls are pretty light. But conditions can get heavy.

 

So all of that will play out and that’s the beauty of it. We really don’t know. But all in all, if you just look at how this year has played out, Djokovic, it would be hard to, again, bet against Djokovic. And the same thing on the women’s side, Serena Williams, even though she’s had a odd run up to the French.   In years past, the run up the Grand Slam really had nothing to do with how she did at that Grand Slam.

 

So you still have to go with the world’s number one ‑‑ Novak and Serena.

 

Can you tell me what you miss from the era that you played tennis, what you miss on the tennis scene now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s just a different time. You get the pluses and minuses. I do miss more of the clash of styles.

There was more variety in styles with the typical baseliner and the all‑court players and then the more of the serve and volleyers, attacking players. It’s now a more homogenous look, but at the same time on the women’s side particularly I see more variety than they’ve had five years ago, 10 years ago. The guys have been there for a while.

 

But the women, I think, were more homogenous in that, for example, I keep going back to the final between Kuznetsova and Dementieva in the 2004 U.S. Open final. And I think there was one volley, one drop shot and three slices the whole match.

And now, you know, you get that in one rally. So you have a lot more variety with the actual play, which makes it more fun. I think the spectators are in for better treats nowadays with more variety.

People still play similarly but there’s more variety within that.

 

Still play similarly to when you were playing ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no, they play similar to each other. They play similar style. More of a ‑‑ I mean, there are two basic styles. Ones that really try to play big babe tennis, as Mary Carillo calls it, and then there are the counter puncher’s. But within the big babe tennis you see a lot more people using slices and coming into the net, putting the volley away. And same with the counter punchers, now they just don’t play defense, if they can get on offense they will do so.

 

And again a lot more slices, a lot more drop shots. You see Maria Sharapova, she’s hitting drop hands from the backhand and the forehand. She never hit a drop shot 10 years ago, now she uses it very well.

 

She hits them from the baseline.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Drop shots are usually hit from the baseline. But she’s usually in an offensive position so she plays them at the right time. And she’s hitting between volley. You won’t see chip and charge, but you will see her, as soon as she hits a deep, good ball, she’ll move in to see if she can knock off the next ball in the air, but she’ll hit swinging volleys rather than punch volleys that we used to hit. But still hitting volleys.

 

Were you asked about Maria Sharapova in general and what you think her chances are coming in?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously great. And they’re always improved when she ‑‑ well, with Maria, obviously it’s a case whether she has to play Serena Williams or not because she hasn’t beat her in 10 years. But she’s been the best clay court player the last three years, except she hadn’t been able to beat Serena, but she’s beaten everybody else and has the most consistent record on clay than everybody. So she has to be one of the favorites. But it always comes with a caveat ‑‑ what happens if she plays Serena? Serena particularly now is kind of an unknown because of the run‑up that she’s had, not really finishing tournaments or didn’t finish two and one she lost in the semis. So it’s hard to tell.

 

But Serena always comes out playing her best tennis in the slams. So, yeah, absolutely Maria has to be one of the favorites. She must be pretty well after Rome, kept playing better and better tennis. Although, also the matches were pretty close, particularly the semifinal in Rome. Could have gone either way.

 

What is it with her and Serena, do you think ‑‑ how much of it is mental and how much of it is just her game, and what do you think she would have to do to finally overcome Serena if they were to meet at the end there?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She would have to serve extremely well, because that’s what Serena always has on, all things being equal, which they’re not; but Serena serves, wins so many more points off her serve, whereas with Maria the serve has been more of a ‑‑ it’s either neutral or it can even be a negative for her starting the points against Serena.

 

So she needs to serve really well. But she has been serving better in Rome, particularly she was hitting her second serve in the high 90s, her second serve was coming in.

So she was getting on the offense with her second serve, never mind the first serve. But Serena does everything a little bit better than Maria or some things a lot better, the serving is a lot better.

 

And the ground stroke she can now sustain a rally, 10 shots, 20 shots, and then go for the ‑‑ when she goes for the jugular she hits it just a little bit harder than Maria.

 

And Maria’s foot speed hurts her against Serena. She’s gotten so much better. She’s quick enough against most players. But she can’t defend as well. Serena defends better than Maria if she has to. And her foot speed is better around the court. And that hurts Maria. She needs to be on offense. But with Serena she has a hard time getting on offense because Serena tees off so early in the rally, whether the serve or return of serve.

 

And also Serena, clearly, plays her best Sundays against Maria Sharapova. She totally rises to the occasion where she might be a bit listless against other opponents or maybe give them a set, maybe not the match, but give them a set. With Maria, she doesn’t give away points, never mind sets. She’s always fired up.   You can see how badly both of them want it.

 

In following up on that, that rivalry seems to really be one, we always talk about how the game, whether it’s men or women, that rivalries is such a big deal in tennis. And this Serena/Maria one is one that still carries after so many years. Would you agree it’s one of the best rivalries in women’s tennis?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s amazing that it carries because it’s so one‑sided. But it’s the personality of the two players involved that makes it so compelling, no matter what the result.

So it’s great for tennis. I mean, tennis is such a one‑on‑one battle that the rivalries are an essential part of that.

 

You want to identify with the people. You want to identify with the personalities. You want to identify with their game, and the only way to do that is if there’s a rivalry going on.

 

I mean, people love Rafa Nadal and they love Roger Federer, but they always fall into one camp more than the other, and will cheer for their player against the other, no matter what.

So it’s funny. And obviously you have that with Williams and Sharapova for different reasons. It’s just been a one‑sided result for the most part.

 

What is the lifetime, is it like 17‑2 or something?

 

 

I’d have to look it up, but that sounds close. It’s not close at all, yeah.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I mean, it’s been 10 years, but it hasn’t been that much matches. I think 15 matches in a row. I think ‑‑ I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But it’s over a long period of time.

 

I beat Chris Evert at one point 13 times in a row, but it was like in a two‑, two‑and‑a‑half‑year period. It didn’t seem that insurmountable. It just came in a closer chunk of time. It think it’s more difficult for Maria to deal with it because it’s been over such a long length of time.

 

 

She’s probably thinking: Sheesh, I was so young the last time I beat her.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah.

 

Could you just maybe pick a couple of dark horses on the men’s and the women’s side and kind of like skim off the top, the Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, on the other side, Sharapova and Williams, could you just pick out a few players who you think have a chance to ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To win the whole thing? That’s a tall order. There’s a lot of players that can beat anybody on a given day. But to go all the way? I guess on the men’s side, Murray. Maybe not that dark, because he’s, what, 3 or 4 in the world.

And maybe Berdych also. He’s been playing some good ball but seems to falter still against the top guys. But he certainly looks fit and very focused and on a given day can compete against anybody.

 

And for just upsets, Kyrgios. Kyrgios, with that serve, can give anybody fits. I’m pretty sure the top players don’t really want to see him too close to them in the draw because he’s a flashy and can be an extremely dominating player the way he plays.

But this is clay, so hopefully it shouldn’t happen. But never know with him.

 

And on the women’s side, again dark horse, Halep can’t be a dark horse, she was in the finals last year. But she hasn’t broken through yet. So dark horse would be anybody to me that hasn’t won a Grand Slam.

 

I’m sorry?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To me, a dark horse would be anybody that hasn’t won a Grand Slam, because then you haven’t done it yet, so we’re not really sure whether it’s going to happen or not.

So Halep would be in that category, certainly, but she’s 3 in the world. So, again, it’s hard to imagine somebody outside of top 10 going all the way on either women or men. They would just have to beat too many quality players.

 

I mean, there could be an opening in the draw where people kind of somehow scrape their way to the semis. But that’s hard to predict. It’s easier to predict a little bit once the draw comes out.

But it’s been such an up‑and‑down lead‑up to the tournament on the women’s side with Serena not finishing a tournament the last three she played, lost in the semis and defaulted the other two, correct?

 

And then you have Petra Kvitova winning in Madrid, playing amazing tennis, and then losing to Suárez Navarro easily. Suárez Navarro given that she can beat anybody, but I don’t think she has the firepower to go all the way, but you could see her in the finals as well.

 

And then there’s a player like Caroline Garcia on a given day can beat anybody. What’s the ‑‑ Pliskova, another Czech, who has got a big game. Perhaps not so suited for clay but grew up on the stuff.

 

She can hang with anybody. So it’s hard to tell but you still have to go with the favorites. Serena and Novak, obviously.

 

 

You were running off some names on the women’s side as possibilities. But one of them isn’t Sloane Stephens. Do you think she’s taken a step or two back from where she was about a year and a half ago?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think she’s moving back the right direction now. It seems to me since she’s been working with Nick ‑‑ God, I have a blank now ‑‑ the lefty. Nick Saviano. Complete blank. I see his face.

 

Since she’s been working back with Nick she’s been playing better tennis. I think she’s feeling more the urgency of not taking her time developing but, rather, making it happen quicker rather than slower.

 

So, yeah, she doesn’t have the cache and the promise maybe she held two or three years ago, but I think it’s still there if she just believes in it. On clay, her game does not transfer well on clay with her big forehand and a good serve.

 

It’s better suited for hard courts or grass. And also I’m not sure how well she moves on the clay. She’s such an amazing mover that on the clay she gets a little hampered because she can’t really push off that fast. I think, again, she’s better on grass or a hard court. But certainly looks like to me that she’s going in the right direction again, which is good to see.

 

Can you talk about the French Open and kind of what you love about that tournament in comparison to the other majors and other tournaments and what you think makes that event special in your eyes?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: The intimacy of it all. You can really get close to the players there, and it’s a smaller venue. So there’s a lot more going on within any area and you just feel, I think, the fans more there because when the Philippe‑Chatrier Court opens up and match finishes, everybody spills out and it gets pretty crowded.

 

And, of course, the red clay. It’s the only big tournament, well, the only slam that’s on red clay. And just the color makes you smile, you know.

So it’s one of a kind. And you’re in Paris. I mean, how tough can it be?

 

One off‑beat question. Does that red clay come out in the laundry, like from your socks and ‑‑ or are all the outfits ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Anytime the players fall on the ground, we say, oops, there went that skirt; there went that shirt. Socks, you throw out, because when you sweat and you get the clay on it, it’s goodbye.

 

So when that tournament’s over, everything just goes in the garbage?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yep.

 

And the shoes, too?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the shoes, you go on the grass. So, yes, they get pretty ‑‑ I mean, you may save them for other clay court tournaments. But most of the time the players, the shoes last a couple of days. That’s it.

I used to go through two pairs of shoes a week. I think the guys change them every match. And now maybe the women do, too. Depends on the kind of shoe. But they’re gone after a week, for sure. So definitely don’t save those.

Wondered if there was some great laundry detergent that got that clay out?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: If it’s there, I don’t know it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

 

Related article:

Tennis Channel Expands French Open Coverage with Two New Shows

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ESPN Tennis Conference Call with Chris Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver

(March 16, 2015) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver spoke with media on Monday. Currently, ESPN3 is providing live all-day coverage from the three main stadiums at the BNP Paribas Open, with ESPN television joining on Thursday, March 19, through Sunday’s women’s and men’s championships.

Soundbites:

How good is Madison Keys?

· “I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve…But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots.” – Evert

· “The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart….I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.” – Shriver

The strong state of women’s tennis:

· “The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.” – McEnroe

· “The bottom half of the women’s draw — Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.” – Shriver

Q. Madison Keys, she’s really at this point obviously a big-time player, top 20. I know how familiar all of you are with her. Can you tell me why of all of the young up-and-coming players you think she is the one?

CHRIS EVERT: I mean, for those of us who saw her at a young age, I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve. She has so much power, more so than any of the other top players, aside from Serena and Venus, her whole game, not counting Maria Sharapova obviously on the groundstrokes. But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots. I feel like I think Lindsay and her husband are a great fit for her right now. At the same time, I think we all felt she would achieve greatness sooner or later when she was ready, when she was emotionally ready. I think the emotional and mental part came along a little bit later than the physical part.

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I think for me, I’m not as familiar as Patrick and Chrissie in the development part, I’m just familiar with Madison as I’ve observed her the last few years for my ESPN position. The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart. Over two years ago she was really, really young in her professional career. Now I think we see the pathway a little more clearly with a great team around her, what she did at the Australian Open. No big surprises. I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.

PATRICK McENROE: Not to pat all of us on the back, but I think it’s been a wonderful progression for Madison. I think the first people that deserve a pat on the back are her parents. She’s a great girl, a great person. She’s got a great head on her shoulders. And her first coaches. Then Chrissie and her brother John, through her formative years when she was 12 up until she was I guess 15 or 16.

Then I have to give a pat on the back to my team at the USTA for doing a great job with her and taking her as a very talented teenager and turning her into a top-40 player. As Chrissie said, I think this is a logical progression for her to get the great insight of a great champion like Lindsay, someone who really studies the game and understands the game well. Obviously they got along great when they did their trial period out at the USTA training center in Southern Cal, so well that along with her husband Jon, it turned into a full-time thing. To me, as the head of player development for the last seven years, this has been an ideal progression for a talented player coming through, and the USTA helping along the way, Chrissie and her team doing a great job, arguably the most important years of developing her technique and strokes. Now obviously passing her off to a great player and great champion, someone who I think can take her all the way to the next level. The next level is winning majors.

Whether she can do that this year is up in the air. But I certainly think within the next 24 months, two and a half to three years, absolutely she can win a major.

Q. Today at the tournament is Azarenka versus Sharapova, then Roger playing Seppi, then Serena Williams and Stephens. Can you comment on some those matches.

PAM SHRIVER: First off, I think the quality of both draws is phenomenal. I think we saw great balance at the Australian Open. I feel like we’re in for just a great year of tennis at all the majors and all the Masters Series and Premiere WTAs. The draws are loaded. We’re getting fantastic early-round matchups.

Stephens-Williams has a lot of history based on the quarterfinal upset a couple of Australian Opens ago, but it also tells a different story of two different pathways, where Serena has been a dominant player since that loss, but Sloane Stephens has gone the other way, but is showing signs. If Sloane Stephens can feel a little more relaxed with Madison Keys picking up a lot of attention from her generation, other American women playing really well, maybe this is Sloane’s true comeback year. I would expect Serena to win that match. Chrissie, you want to take Azarenka-Sharapova?

CHRIS EVERT: No. You take it.

PAM SHRIVER: One of the reasons women’s tennis is looking better this year is because of players like Azarenka being healthy again. She looked for a while like the best hard court player in women’s tennis when she was winning two Australian Opens, almost beating Serena in two US Open finals. She was pretty much a non-entity last year.

The way she played at the Australian, the way she’s playing here, playing the quality of tennis she played a couple years ago, are great for women’s tennis.

What isn’t great is for people who like a quiet match (laughter). But we’ll have to deal with it. It will only last a couple hours.

CHRIS EVERT: I just think that Sharapova-Azarenka is going to be really telling to see how far Azarenka has come along as far as taking time off. She seems to have had a resurgence and she seems to have reset her career and her inspiration, seems like 100%. I always think that taking breaks for players is such a good deal, such a good decision. It just refreshes you. You just get so flat and burned out playing year after year after year and not taking a good chunk of really four or five months off. I think she’s been better as a result. These two players could end up 2 and 3 at the end of the year. That’s how tough this third round is.

On the other hand, Sloane, I love the way she has played this tournament. I’m very happy that she’s with Nick Saviano. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, seeing what he did with Genie Bouchard. If anybody can help her attitude and mental outlook on her tennis, it’s going to be Nick with Sloane. So good signs, showing good attitude out there, good body language. These are just two great showcase matches for women’s tennis.

PATRICK McENROE: Maybe one you forgot about, we haven’t mentioned her yet, is Coco Vandeweghe. She’s done a terrific job. She’s seeded, what, about 30 or 31 out there. She’s sort of quietly playing the best tennis of her career. Similar to Madison, we’ve known about her since she was a teenager from Southern Cal. Being a huge hitter of the ball and a good athlete. It’s taken her a little while, but she’s figured out how to get herself in really good condition. I love the way she’s playing. She’s still a little bit up and down. She played some great tennis in Australia, then didn’t play so well when she lost. Taking on Bouchard, who Chrissie and Pam talked about already, that’s the first match out there on the stadium court today. That’s a good one. Bouchard obviously with a new coach, as well. She’s got a lot to prove this year, a lot of pressure on her after an unbelievable year last year.

The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.

Obviously we’re certainly looking forward to seeing Roger take on Seppi. While we would all pencil this in as a routine Roger win based on overall his record against Seppi, losing for the first time at the Australian to him, which was a shocker obviously, I wouldn’t be quite that quick. Seppi is a really good player. He’s had an excellent last year and a half on the tour. I expect him to play well again. Obviously Roger’s antenna will be way up for this. Coming off a win in Dubai over Djokovic got him back on track with his confidence that he can have another great year. Just like the women’s draw, the men’s draw is loaded. It’s a nice early test for Roger to see where he’s at.

CHRIS EVERT: Is Bencic playing Wozniacki?

THE MODERATOR: That’s second on.

CHRIS EVERT: That’s another one to watch, 18-year-old Bencic. Patrick was talking about the young ones. She’s 18 years old, had a slow start, but had a great year last year.

PAM SHRIVER: The bottom half of the women’s draw, Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.

CHRIS EVERT: Good point.

Q. I wanted to talk about the event you’re at. Obviously players want to win at every event. This has the aura of a fifth major. Do you see players and advertisers, media, putting this on a higher shelf than other events on the tour?

PAM SHRIVER: From a Southern California standpoint, to think this is the only professional tournament in one of the great tennis hotbeds in the history of the game is kind of a shame. But it also makes it, for this region, because living here, hearing the buildup the last month, you can feel this is a big-time Southern Cal event.

CHRIS EVERT: You look at next week, Miami, this week Indian Wells. You talked about hotbeds. California and Florida are the two biggest tennis dates, I feel, in the country, and have really come up with some great players, play all year round. There are a lot of tennis enthusiasts. It’s only apropos that these two big tournaments are held in these two states. You could say the fifth. I would like to say the Road to Singapore, the WTA Finals, in the players’ mind is the fifth one. But then you have this one and Miami right there with it. It’s probably the most popular with the players. What’s not to be great to come out here in this weather, in this atmosphere, this facility, this venue. I think it’s definitely one of the players’ favorites.

PATRICK McENROE: There’s no doubt that these Masters events in general have been elevated to another level. You might get the same argument from a Cincinnati or even some of the European clay court events, which are tremendous as well. The nice thing about these two events, obviously Indian Wells, the facilities are phenomenal with Larry Ellison, what he’s been able to do to take it to a whole other level by building a new stadium. The grounds are tremendous. I was out there this past weekend. The buzz around the grounds, it’s electric to be out there.

The weather doesn’t hurt out there, as well. I think the time of year. There’s really no major that it conflicts with. You get towards the end of the major clay court tune-up, people are thinking about the French. In the summer, people don’t want to tire themselves out too much leading into the US Open. These two are just great events. This one, where it’s located, what Larry Ellison has been able to do. Ray Moore and Charlie Pasarell starting out had an amazing vision of what this event could be. I think it’s turned into that and a lot more.

Q. Patrick, what do you think of this picture floating around of your brother sitting between Bill Gates and Larry Ellison?

PATRICK McENROE: I thought I was the one in the McEnroe family with a low net worth (laughter). A little reality check for him there, you know.

CHRIS EVERT: Patrick, he was a little intimidated.

PATRICK McENROE: Who wouldn’t be, I’ll tell you.

Q. I have this theory that they made McEnroe pick up the check that night.

PATRICK McENROE: That would be okay. He could afford it (laughter).

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All Will Hail the Conquering Hero as Andy Murray Opens Wimbledon on Monday

 

(June 22, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Andy Murray will receive a conquering hero’s welcome when takes Wimbledon Centre Court on Monday at one o’clock as he opens to defend his 2013 title. Murray broke the 77-year-old curse, as no man from Great Britain laid claim to Wimbledon since Fred Perry won the title back in 1936.

The 2012 year was a special year for the Scotsman Murray, as he won his first major title at the U.S. Open, just after winning the gold medal at the London Olympics. Opening the Wimbledon fortnight Wimbledon will be a memorable day for the world No. 5 and third seed.

“Tomorrow when I sort of go out on the court, I need to enjoy that moment when I walk back on the court,” Murray said.

“But as soon as I start playing the match, yeah, it’s about trying to win.  And, yeah, I enjoy winning.  That’s it.  I mean, you know, I don’t really want to go out on the court tomorrow and enjoy playing and then lose.

“I would rather, you know, enjoy a win, and that’s what I’ll try to do.  But it’s time when I get on the court to start concentrating.  Not think about last year, concentrate on this year’s tournament, and that’s it.”

Murray was asked about the extreme pressure he had to deal with on account of the British male Grand Slam futility. “I think I handled them fairly well,” Murray said.  “This has been my most consistent tournament throughout my career.  I haven’t lost before the semis for the first few years.  I’d always played pretty good tennis here.

“I maybe could have played a bit better in the latter stages of the event in some of the years.  But I feel in terms of handling the pressure, you know, there was a lot of it, and I think I did okay.

“Last year the final was definitely the most pressure I’d felt in all the years I’d played here.  So, yeah, I managed to come through it.  I think that comes with age and experience.

Questions were posed to Murray about his unique selection for his new coach, Amelie Mauresmo former No. 1 player on the WTA tour. Very few women coach male pros.

“I think, first of all, you can talk about her accomplishments on the tennis court,” Murray said of his new coach.  “She won a lot.  She was No. 1 in the world.  She won multiple Grand Slams.  She got to latter stages of slams very often.

“I think she was someone who struggled with nerves and conquered them later in her career, which I think when you start to coach someone, I think you can help more than someone that hasn’t had those issues before.

“She understands the psychological part of the game maybe more than some because of that.

“And in terms of what she’s like, her game style, she had quite a creative game style.  She used a lot of spins, slices, she came to the net, good variety in her game.  That’s something that I’ve always tried to use during my career.  So I think she can help with that.

“And then in terms of what she’s like as a person, she’s a very, very nice person.  She’s very easy to speak to.  She’s very easy to communicate with.  She listens well.  She’s firm, as well.

“So there are the reasons why I wanted to give it a shot, and hopefully it will work out well.”

“It was about finding the right personality with the right experience to help me,” Murray stated about choosing Mauresmo.

“I think she will help me.  I’ve really enjoyed the last ten days I spent on the court with her.  It’s been great.

“And, yeah, if it helps sort of bring more female coaches into men’s sport and women’s sport there’s not that many female coaches on the women’s side either that’s a good thing.

“Because there’s absolutely no reason why someone like Amélie can’t help me.

“It’s possible it doesn’t work.  It has nothing to do with whether she’s a woman or not.  That’s not why it will work or not work.  That’s how I feel about it.”

“But my mom will tell you this is history,” Murray added.  “One of the coaches that I also loved when I was growing up that I traveled with was Olga Morazova.  I actually saw her in the car park here the other day.  I always found her great fun to be around.  I learned a lot from her when I was a kid, too.

“A lot of the female coaches that I have been around.  Although there’s not been many of them, I’ve always enjoyed working with them.”

Murray will face 104th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium on Monday. Murray spoke about his opponent’s good tennis in the past at big events.

“He doesn’t mind the big stage,” he said.  “And, yeah, he’s solid.  He’s a solid player in all parts of the court.  It will be a tricky match.”

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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Quotes of the Day from the Pre-Wimbledon News Conferences

Serena in press 3

(June 21, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Players met the media on Saturday for pre-Wimbledon news conferences, days ahead of the The Championships, 2014.

 

Who says I was over it (smiling)?

-No. 1 seed Serena Williams  asked about how long it took for her to get over her stunning second round loss at the French Open to Garbine Muguruza.

 

-Simona Halep on her new found fame in her homeland of Romania

It was amazing feeling when I arrived home, because they stopped the plane just on the red carpet at the airport and everybody was waiting for me, about 300 fans.  I went to them and I said hello, many things there.  They ask me many things.

Yeah, was incredible.  For me was the best moment of my life.  Was incredible.  I will never forget that moment.

 

The big change is that everybody knows me now and a lot of people are speaking about me and are watching me.  In Romania all the press, every day they are watching me.  I don’t know why.

It’s a little bit difficult, but I want just to stay very far of this and just to keep focus my mental for the tennis.  I just want to think about tennis now and nothing else.

 

On looking at her ranking years ago:

A few years ago I was looking at the rankings on Internet, and I saw I was fourth page.  I said my dream is to be on first page.

So now I am there, and I am really happy.  I cannot be sad that I lose some matches.  I want just to enjoy this moment and to try to improve more in my game and to be maybe second or first.

 

Roger Federer on his second round loss at Wimbledon last year:

That was done a week after Wimbledon.  After that, I didn’t need to think about it a whole lot anymore.  It was just one of the big goals I set for myself.  I failed.  Back to work.  Get yourself in shape.

Rafael Nadal on Wimbledon:

I say before:  Is really the most dangerous tournament of the year.  When I arrive to Roland Garros I already played for one month on clay.  I played a lot of matches.  So more or less I can imagine how I am going to play.

 

 

 

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Engagement Broken and Nursing Injuries, Caroline Wozniacki Beaten in First Round of the French Open

 

(May 27, 2014) Almost a week after her engagement to Golfer Rory McIlroy was called off, Caroline Wozniacki, carrying a couple of injuries, was upset in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday. The 13th seed lost to Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2.

McIlroy and Wozniacki, who had been engaged since New Year’s Eve, split up last week. They had been seeing each other since 2011.

Wozniacki began her post-match news conference with a statement:

“I don’t really want to talk about my personal life. I hope that you all can understand that. The only thing I really have to say is that, you know, (I want to) thank everybody for their support and sweet messages.

“What happens in my personal life, I just want to really keep that between my closest people around me. You know, I just have to move on.”

Coming into Tuesday Wozniacki led Wickmayer 6-1 in head-to-head meetings. Wickmayer is working with former player Kim Clijsters. Clijsters beat Wozniacki in the 2009 U. S. Open Final.

Wozniacki played a limited clay court schedule due to a knee injury.

“You’re not prepared for something like this, and (it) came a bit as a shock,” Wozniacki told media. “I just tried to prepare the best that I could. I felt a little bit rusty out there, and it wasn’t really a pretty match. But I tried.”

 

Related article:

Golfer Rory McIlroy calls off Engagement to Tennis Player Caroline Wozniacki

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“Papa” Roger Federer: “I couldn’t be happier”

Federer on court-001

(May 13, 204) Last week Roger Federer became the father of a second set of twins, when wife Mirka gave birth to sons Leo and Lenny. Federer withdrew from the Madrid Open last week to be with his family during the birth and is back on tour this week playing the Italian Open.

“I spoke to the team, I spoke to Mirka, asked all of them what they think I should do and they told me to come here and play,” said Federer in his pre-tournament news conference in Rome. “So I said ok, if you don’t want me around, I’ll go away! I miss them a lot already, it’s a different type of week, but I’ll get through it and I hope I can play some good tennis here.”

“I couldn’t be happier… for those who have kids it’s the best thing… they know what I am talking about. It’s hard to leave all the family, but I’ll see them soon, shortly. The boys are healthy and Mirka is good too. It’s a great time in our lives.

“The plan is that they can come on tour. At least we know how to handle with kids on the road, and that’s quite a challenge early on especially when they are about 12 months old.”

“Things went well, the boys are healthy. Mirka’s good, too,” the world No. 4 said. “So it’s a great time in our lives right now.”

“Boys names are hard. It was all last minute,” Federer said. “Girls, I feel like there’s so many nice names and they’re all cute but with boys it’s totally a different story.

“I miss them a lot already and also the girls. It’s a different type of week but I’ll get through it and I hope I can still play some good tennis.”

Leo and Lenny join twin sisters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva in the family. The girls will turn 5 on July 23rd.

“This time around, we kind of know how to handle kids on the road,” the Swiss said. “I’m aware it’s going to be a lot of work but at the same time I know what I’m getting into. So it’s something I’m very much looking forward to. … There will be a long time without any traveling after the tennis is over, so I’m looking forward to the next couple of years now.”

“Papa” Federer is a three-time losing finalist in Rome – 2003, 2006 and 2013. He’ll begin his quest for a Rome title on Wednesday when he plays Jeremy Chardy.

 

Related article:

Federers Welcome Another Set of Twins to the Family

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Fashion Statements in Notes and Quotes at the Sony Open

 

Fashion statements

 

(Match 20, 2014) On Thursday at the Sony Open some of the players were asked about their “fashion” and “style” on and off-court. Here is what some of them had to say.

Serena Williams

The world No. 1 sported Miami Dolphins colors on court on Thursday. The 17-time major champ is a co-owner of the NFL team.

Actually, we’re playing ‑‑ Nike and I wanted to pay homage to my team that I co‑own, so it was like, We should totally do the Dolphin colors.  Just have something really fun for Miami.  You know, Dolphins are great, so just, Go Dolphins, go Fins.

 

Djokovci inpress

Novak Djokovic

The World No. 2 was asked about his inspiration in designing his outfits.

You mentioned Andre Agassi.  I mean, he definitely revolutionalized the fashion in tennis.  He was the first one to dress differently and to have some kind of statement on the court.

Well, I have been through a process in my career, as well.  I had different dragons and wings on my shirts (smiling).

But I’m at a different stage right now.  Of course I’m very much involved in giving ‑‑ trying to give my input as much as I can to design my own clothes.  I’m fortunate to have a really good team of people and designers from Uniqlo Company who represents me the last two years.

There is various, I will say, inspirations behind the certain designs for different periods of the year depending on color of the surface, depending on the time of the year, depending where we go, color of Serbian flags, so forth and so forth.

So there are different sources of inspiration we are trying to put into the design and kind of create something that looks nice on the court.

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

The Swiss No. 2 and 17-time major champ had a question posted to him about his process of picking out colors and styles and if he had any fashion advice.

Well, normally, look, it’s great to see fans wearing the RF cap, you name it, or Nike in general.  It’s like a tag of approval maybe in a way that they enjoy what I’m wearing.  They feel like they’re connected to me, which I do feel is the case.

The hard part is deciding today what I’m going to wear for US Open next year.  It’s kind of hard, you know, sometimes to put myself in the right mind and mindset to know, Am I going to like, you know, stripes in one‑and‑a‑half years?  I’m not sure, you know.

Right now I maybe do, but maybe one‑and‑a‑half years maybe not so cool.  That’s the hard part when we work together with Nike.  But I really enjoy the process, and it’s nice to be part of it rather than just getting stuff and then not liking or loving stuff.

It has that element where you can be part of it.  My advice probably is you’ve got to make sure you wear the clothes and not the clothes wear you.  It’s quite simple in a, way but don’t wear something you totally feel uncomfortable with, but, you know, take some chances.  Play around a bit.

I felt very uncomfortable in suits when I was younger, so what I just started doing was wearing suits when I was going to dinner.  I used to overdress a little bit so I got used to wearing suits.  Now wearing a suit is like wearing a track suit for me.  So it’s all good.

 

Murray in press

Andy Murray

Andy Murray was asked how players showcase through fashion and individual styles.

This is a tough question for me.  I don’t really know how to answer it (smiling).

To be honest, I mean, I just like wearing on the court what’s comfortable.  So long as the products work well, then that’s the most important thing for me.

I mean, adidas, the way they work is they tend to have their ‑‑ they have their own colors, so all of the players wear a fairly similar kit; whereas some of the other companies, you know, it’s more sort of individual.

So you see that player’s sort of style or what they like a little bit more.

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