Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A (mostly) good read about Schiavone

I rarely read anything on Sports Illustrated's website because I'm not too interested in a sports publication that runs a swimsuit issue. However, a search engine took me to an interesting editorial by Bruce Jenkins, who talks about both the artistry and emotion of our new French Open champion, Francesca Schiavone. Jenkins makes a case (and I couldn't agree more) that Schiavone's victory should be remembered as a great moment in women's tennis.

There is an odd quotation in the editorial, from Ted Robinson, who said "I had always watched Schiavone, but I'd never met her, and I thought her kind of a dour presence." Which Francesca Schiavone has he been watching all these years? Certainly not the one I've been watching.

A better quotation is one that comes directly from Jenkins: "The WTA's marketing people may have been visiting the shrimp tray, but a lot of important people noticed."

He goes on to say: "Maybe I'm well past the corner of Reasonable and Cash Cow, but I would market the hell out of Francesca Schiavone. You hear so much talk about how young girls had better make it big in tennis by the time they're 16, or it's all over, and it's complete nonsense. This was a victory for maturity, reaching the heights of glory at your physical peak"

Well said.

Not so well said, however, was Jenkins' use of that tired noun "tomboy" to describe Schiavone as a child, not to mention the use of "mannish" to describe her game. An athletic female child is not "like a boy"--she's just an active, athletic girl. And a game of strength and variety is not the game of a man--it's the game of someone like Schiavone.

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