Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pam Shriver, meet Yanina WIckmayer

Caroline Wozniacki's opponent in the U.S. Open semifinals will be Yanina Wickmayer, a young Belgian who may or may not have been insulted by Pam Shriver on ESPN tonight. Given Shriver's penchant for sarcasm and her admission a day or so ago that she didn't know who Wickmayer was, I'm of the opinion that the insult occurred. In interviewing Wozniacki, Shriver, rolling her eyes, said "Your next opponent is (pause) Yanina Wickmayer." The crowd booed her.

There is really no excuse for a commentator to not know who a semifinalist is, no matter strange she may think the draw is. And there is certainly no excuse for making a humiliating comment, even a subtle one, about Wickmayer's success at the Open. Wickmayer is ranked number 50 in the world, yet I didn't hear Shriver make a snide remark about world number 70 Melanie Oudin when she reached the quarterfinals.

I first saw Yanina Wickmayer in Fed Cup competition last year when she defeated both Bondarenko sisters. She's a good hitter with an especially good serve, and she knows how to vary it. She reached the Birmingham final this year, but lost to Kateryna Bondarenko, whom she defeated today in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Like a lot of youthful big hitters, Wickmayer is inconsistent, and prone to making errors. She is also something of a hothead, which has gotten her into trouble.

On her way to the semifinals, Wickmayer defeated 16th seed Virginie Razzano, Peng Shuai, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, and Kateryna Bondarenko.

51 comments:

David said...

The way Shriver said Wickmayer's name was a bit snotty. The boos were justified.

Todd Spiker said...

I felt so totally justified about going a rant about Shriver the other day when she did that tonight.

I'm not sure which was worse, the way she said her name, or her "what'd I say?" bit of fake innocence after the fans called her out on it.

Did you notice how taken aback by the booing Wozniacki was.

Diane said...

She did look a bit confused. Of course, Wozniacki was also a victim of Shriver's sarcasm. I mean, what was she supposed to say to that?

Tuan said...

Pam Shriver was terrible tonight. She deserves the axe for her snide comment...totally unnecessary for a commentator to make.

Anonymous said...

Did any of you saw her interview Michael Phelps where she asks him TWICE to strip down to his speedos? Imagine if John MacEnroe had made the same request to Dara Torres? Pam Shriver is an embarrassment.

John H. said...

Shame on Pam Shriver. I thought she had more class than what she showed last night. ESPN can do better...

Diane said...

Anon, I thought the comment to Michael Phelps was very inappropriate (though part of me thought he had it coming after seeing all those photos of Phelps feeling up strippers.)

Diane said...

And let's not forget that Brad Gilbert refers to her as "Wicker Chair."

Another Anon said...

Will be interesting to see how the media machine plays up Wickmayer's background.

She and her father have a compellingly story on paper, but many who follow the Challengers know how Wickmayer smashed a ball into a ref's face during the Clearwater ITF finals. The Ref. needed medical treatment. The final day was canceled (Wickmayer was also in the doubles final).

The only response I could find from Wickmayer and her father on that incident? An appeal to the WTA to restore the points she lost by that misconduct. There was some discussion in your blog back in March.

One's tempted to think of Henin's behavior and just label this as "Belgians behaving badly". Thank goodness for Kim Clijsters.

Anonymous said...

Pam Shriver's comment was demeaning to Wickmayer and to Belgium. I think that she has no place commenting tennis matches on ESPN and should simply be fired.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see Shriver's interview with Oudin's 9 year old sister in the stands before the match last night began? She asked her to spell the word, "believe" that was written on her T-shirt. The 9 year old got flustered and misspelled it and Shriver made fun of her - what kind of reporting is that.... humiliating a 9 year old?

Anonymous said...

Glad to see others were disappointed by Shriver's lackluster work. I've always thought she makes irrelevant comments, asks overly basic questions, and speaks like she thinks she's more charming and funny than anyone else (couldn't be less true IMO). Last night's telecast put me over the edge. Embarrassing the cute little girl, the BALTIMORIAN/SPEEDO joke, and of course Wickmayer.... shame!

Anonymous said...

Pam Shriver is terrible. Total lack of professionalism.

Did you notice how players, when asked the inevitable question "you face (name of next opponent) in your next match, what are your thoughts?", always say something like "it will be a tough match" or "that player is doing well, I'll have to be ready", and so on? That's because they are right - they know better than to think "yeah, I'm N rankings above so it will be easy" or "I've won our last N matches so it will be easy". It's never easy, and no opponent can be counted out. Even Federer predicted his match against Soderling would be tough, even though he beat him 10 or 11 times in a row.

Players know better, but apparently Pam Shriver does not.

Anonymous said...

ESPN should have her give a public apology.. else leave.

Phil said...

Pam Shriver's post match interview was disgusting.

During her interview, she openly trash mouthed both Yanina Wickmayer and the entire country of Belgium. Shriver spit out both "Wickmayer" and "Belgium" as if the words tasted foul.
Her message was that Wickmayer was so bad the winner of the Oudin-Wozniacki match was guaranteed the finals.
She should be fired by the network or at least barred from doing post match interviews on national TV

http://politicalcenter.newsvine.com/_news/2009/09/10/3246182-the-politics-of-sports-shriver-horrifies-us-open-audiences?category=sports

Nina said...

Here is a short intro to Wickmayer's bio for Pam Shriver to read.
http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/in-grief-wickmayers-tennis-journey-began/

Anonymous said...

A bit snotty? Pam Shriver is a complete idiot. No WTA or ATP pros should even talk to her. If ESPN has any integrity they would fire her immediately.

rohan said...

Pam Shriver does not have class . The number of obvious questions she asks a player before a match is really unnecessary . She should be fired by the ESPN guys.

Diane said...

If Tennis Channel didn't fire Gimelstob, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for ESPN to fire Shriver.

Anonymous said...

With tennis working so hard to become popular and mainstream, it is sad and embarrassing to have someone like Pam Shriver interviewing the players and their families. She is only hurting the sport and should be fired.

Craig C said...

ESPN (ABC) has no class or guts and will allow this totally unprofessional and crude woman to remain on the air. It's a disgrace. The network owes an apology for their bias coverage last night and the way they treated Wozniacki and Wickmayer.

Gretchen said...

I agree with the bulk of these comments--Pam did say both 'Belgium' and 'Wickmayer' as if they were both a couple of God's embarrassing mistakes. She won't get axed for it, but she should acknowledge that she acted like an ass and make an apology. But I'm not holding my breath.

Ineke said...

As Yanina has her very own ritual for getting her mind free between matches by focusing on the next opponent: I'm -being a Belgian- very sure that tomorrow she will be the freely playing and self-confident Yanina we saw last week and ...

that's the only thing we Belgians keep in mind, not this kind of 'insult' by an ex-player who probably can imagine very well the disrespect a player could feel after her words.

To me it's not worth it spending too many words to this woman. It'll only leave Yanina with more curious people becoming fans :-)

Komaan Yanina ! GA ERVOOR

Anonymous said...

Did Shriver ever apologize, as she should?

Diane said...

The last I heard, she had not.

Anonymous said...

Pam Shriver MUST get off the TV screen.

Her work with the microphone has been exemplary for incompetence.

Shriver is as graceful as a horse on ice skates.

Shriver has consistently stuck the mike up and left all puzzling if she’s got a grasp of what she’s actually doing.

Her tunnel interviews make the players run in avoidance, some have even pretended not knowing English.

Her queries with family and coaches are softer than ice cream under sun.

We’ve got to avoid criticizing her wardrobe again, so we don’t get confused with some gay Lifetime program.

She is clearly uncomfortable. Pam Shriver has our sympathy. But she will never have our respect.

Anonymous said...

The Wickmayer comment was uncalled for but so was the fact Shriver made Wozniacki feel the need to apologize for winning. This was her moment. And Shriver stole it by rousing up the crowd during the interview with Oudin and leaving Wozniacki to play second fiddle.

I applaud Wozniacki for her win to move into the semifinals at the age of 19 (only two years older the Oudin) and for the way she responded with class to the Wickmayer comment and stating she hoped she had won over the hearts of the crowd.

The Alec Baldwin interview was unnecessary. And Shriver should no better than to talk through the point asking Baldwin to compare his young start in acting to Oudin bursting onto the scene at the Open.

Mary Carillo was equally disappointing as the commentator. She described Wozniacki's play during the Oudin match as "unremarkable". Did she notice Wozniacki won in straight sets and had good command of the match?

Shriver is back at it tonight during the most recent rain delay in the Gonzales v. Nadal match. She was interviewing Gonzales' coach and started asking whether he instructed his player to request a stop in play before she covered herself by suggesting it was a move to prevent injury. The tone and delivery clearly implied she was suggesting an unsporting move to disrupt Nadal.

ESPN, please don't ruin a great game with your need to stir up drama (See Favre, Terrell Owen, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Did Shriver really say, "We don't usually talk to the loser" to Oudin? Classy to remind Oudin she was on the short end.

The interviews:

Oudin
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4459975&categoryid=2491545

Wozniacki
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4459972

Anonymous said...

Sadly enough Pam does not remain objective. As a former tennis player she should encourage any player no matter the origin. We Belgians are proud to have both Yanina and Kim in the WTA tour. Maybe Pam should try interviewing Yanina ? She should try to do it in another language so we can all have a laugh ! Let's not forget that most of the Belgian population is fluent in 3 languages so show some respect. To end in an positive way : the US Open is a great tournament and a delight to see.

Hahaha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I hope that was her last interview..what a disgrace.

Le Belge said...

Maybe Pam Whatever had her "nightly cocktail" before the interview... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/2589877/George-Lazenby-accuses-Pam-Shriver-of-relying-on-drugs.html

Maarten said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a proud belgian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hmmm Pam Shriver ... do your homework and try to behave like a professional!
About the incident with Wickmayer in the Challenger tour: she apologized and explained the situation in her personal blog. You won't always find press comments on everything that happens! Who knows exactly what happened and how Yanina responded towards the ref and the organisation afterwards? Not the papers ...
If you look at how she behaved on court during her latest matches, she obviously learnt from past mistakes. (whether or not on purpose) And that is what counts too, right?

Diane said...

Please note that--however much you may dislike Shriver or any woman--sexist insults are not tolerated on this blog.

Anonymous said...

How does ESPN justify the employment of Pam Shriver? ... she'd certainly be far more gainfully employed by Cirque de Soleil ... no other sports interviewer on TV has put their big clown foot in their mouth more often. Last night's highlight from our stadium-wandering maven was hilarious as she perched herself at the highest windswept point of Arthur Ashe and gave us more info about nothing! ... Is it me or should ESPN be s removing this unprofessional person immediately? ... then perhaps we can advise CBS to look at Nick Faldo ... another has-been who thinks he's a comedian.

Diane said...

I had serious problems with Shriver when she interfered with Mary Pierce's match a few years ago, leaving the booth to "report" Pierce's delays to the offficials.

As unprofessional as Shriver can be, though, I still find the retention of Justin Gimelstob on Tennis Channel to be a much more offensive act by a network management team. Shriver is out of line; Gimelstob is a crude bigot.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous wickmayer fan above - you don't have the facts. I was at the Clearwater tournament. Saw an earlier match of hers. Her outbursts were comical as we didn't realize at the time she would blindly fire a ball at a referee.

To correct you further, Wickmayer didn't apologize for the incident, merely said she didn't do it intentionally. Here is a translation from the March '09 section of her blog.

" I got the mail sent to ITF because it is not fair that she is my 4 matches where I've just fought decline.... The ball was an accident, it was certainly not intended .... Accidents happen and people who really know me know that I never intentionally hurt:)"

OF COURSE IT WASN'T INTENTIONAL. Her comments showed that she really doesn't understand the consequences of her actions. No apology to the injury she caused to the referee.

Furthermore, it appears her behavior has not changed. I saw her "trademark" act of frustration on a televised match this past week; She blindly fired a ball behind her. Mostly towards the ground, but again, fired without looking first.

I understand this is a teenager with a troubled background. But the world has enough tennis brats and I sure hope she's treated severely for future outbursts.

As for the Clearwater tournament, it would be quite understandable if last years sponsors declined to participate again. Those sponsors sure lost out when wickmayer cancelled the final day.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell is Pam Shriver anyway ? Talking about a loser ! She should apologize to Yanina who is playing absolutely great at the US Open and she should apologize to Belgium as well. Belgium is a small country but has had some good players througout the years, amongst which 2 numer 1 players. Show some respect or keep your big mouth shut.
Hopefully Yanina gets through to the final and hopefully she says to Pam Shriver :"usually I do not talk to losers myself" and walk away.

Nina said...

It looks like NYT has heard your complains...even though they don't mention the Wickmayer comment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/sports/tennis/11sandomir.html?_r=1

danny said...

Get Shriver off the job. How dare she?!?!?
Belgium has been and still is dominating women's tennis.
I hope she will be forced to interview Yanina after her win against...heueueu (what's her name again...)
Please notice the confirming attitude of Yanina's opponent when backward Shriver was saying these stupid words.
So please Yanina dump her in deep shame !!!!
By the way... the first time I went to the US an american asked me where I came from. I said: "Belgium". You know what the reaction was ? Well...This. "Oh ye ,that's in Brussels !" (must have been family from Miss Shriver)

Diane said...

"Please notice the confirming attitude of Yanina's opponent when backward Shriver was saying these stupid words."

I couldn't note it because it wasn't there. Rather, Wozniacki was also victimized by Shriver's comment.

Barbara said...

I didn't hear any apology from Pam Shriver or ESPN for the disparaging way in which Shriver referred to "Wickmayer"! Has anybody?

Anonymous said...

Pam's comments have annoyed me for years. Mostly she seems to try to embellish her minimal accomplishments by working them into her commentating. One of her co-commentators once said it best when he implied that Pam's greatest accomplishment was her choice of a doubles partner, Martina Navratilova.

Anonymous said...

This was so stupid of her!
Pretty sure Wozniacki liked that moment according to her reaction, poor girl.
And for Wickmayer, its always nice to hear someone speak about you like that.
So quick conclusion: very good interview!!
Lets wait until she makes other athletes uncomfortable, by doing a short interview.

Anonymous said...

I am glad others are realizing what I have known for years, the meanness and ineptitude of Pam Shriver as a commentator. She has been demeaning, sarcastic, and an emnarrassment for as long as I can remember, dating back to her jokes to Martina Navratilova aboout "the beauty and the beast" (a doubles team consisting of an attractive player and a homely one), her attack on Mary Pierce as "obviously not being really French" because she shaves her armpits and many, many more. She's a poor excuse of a human being and I really. REALLY hope she's finally fired.

Terri said...

The thing I have been finding most offensive about Pam Shriver's coverage in this open: her CONSTANT comments about Kim Clijsters being a MOM. and how fascinating it is that she can still be a competitive athlete!!!!! How insulting to all women!- Does she really believe it's impossible to be a mom and a successful tennis player??? Every time she interviewed Clijsters as she was coming onto the court she mentioned it even just before the final!!! "How does being a mom affect your playing this women;s final match?" Does she really have nothing else to say about KC tennis playing? shame. Sexism- even coming from a woman- an (ex) athlete, a mom. How embarrassing.

Diane said...

I'm fed up with that, too, Terri. The interesting thing about Shriver, though, is that in the last year, she has actually made several feminist statements. She made one just the other day. She seems to have one foot mired in sexism and the other foot out and stepping.

Anonymous said...

Heard about the Shrider/Wickmayer incident, but I didn't know this one : "her attack on Mary Pierce as "obviously not being really French" because she shaves her armpits". Pam Shriver is a disgrace to tennis'elegance in the past and to the human race right now. Fire that racist cow !!! Au revoir !

barbara said...

wish Pam Shriver would put a lid on it. I was furious when she inturupted Andy Rodick's game. I like Kim Clijsters, but I don't tune it to see her play unless Andy or Federer are not playing. I think here in the U.S., we want to see the Americans play when they're on. Also who tunes in to hear Pam upstaging. Barb