In all the excitement about Justine Henin's magnificent year, Serena Williams' comeback, the advancement of the Serbian players, and Maria Sharapova's end-of-season return to form, one name has fallen off the radar: Amelie Mauresmo. Mauresmo, who was the defending champion, made it to the round of 16 at the Australian Open, then brushed herself off and prepared for a big clay season, when she generally shines.
But appendicitis and a very long period of recovery, followed by an appendicitis-related adductor strain, kept Mauresmo off the court for much of the season. The defending champion at Wimbledon, she arrived with little preparation, and was eliminated in the round of 16.
Today, on a forum, I saw someone refer to Mauresmo's "bad year," as if she had simply not played well. She had almost no year at all, and consequently, she is no longer included in discussions of rankings and Grand Slam win predictions. Amelie Mauresmo is my favorite player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and I am here to remind everyone that she will indeed be playing in 2008, and that--assuming she has adequate off-season training--she is still one of the world's top players.
It is true that Mauresmo is given to occasional periods of feeling weary and burned out about tennis (doubtless, others are too, but Mauresmo is open about hers), but we must bear in mind that right after she had one of these down periods last year, she won Wimbledon. Having missed most of this year, for all practical purposes, Mauresmo is likely to have a confidence problem in 2008, and that could hold her back. But if she can train properly and find a way to be positive about her game again, she remains a major threat. Her rivalry with Henin is more interesting (to me) than the rivalry of Henin and Williams. Her game is absolutely beautiful to watch, and her wit and gentle personality add much to the tour.
Here's hoping Mauresmo comes back strong in 2008 on all surfaces, and that fans start adding her name to conversations about the tour's top players.