Monday, August 6, 2012

Every time a player screams, an angel gets her medal

Some people think that tennis shouldn't be an Olympic event, but I'm glad it is. The 2012 Olympic singles event showcased all three current winners of majors, which felt "right" to many tennis fans. World number 2 Agnieszka Radwanska made an unfortunate early exit, and--alas--Petra Kvitova didn't make it to the medal stand (I really thought she might get it together for the Olympics). But it was nevertheless gratifying to see Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka receive their Olympic medals.

There is probably no way to adequately describe the triumph of Serena Williams. After all she has been through, to win both Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal is a double feat of immense proportions. Add to that the almost scary dominance she displayed over Sharapova in the final, and we see Williams as not only the great champion that she is, but also as the inspirational force she has become.

Both Williams and Sharapova have taught us that obstacles--even seemingly unmovable ones--can be knocked down. But we can also learn from Azarenka, who has learned to fight distraction in every form, and to focus on winning. And she has done it all without compromising; she is still (thank goodness) Vika, in all her earphones-in, tongue-out, in-your-face glory.

Among them, the three medal winners can make themselves heard for a great distance, and their personalities light up the tour.

Venus Williams--who has also been through, and continues to go through--very trying times--was not to be denied, either. She and her sister won the doubles gold medal for the third time, once again forcing the tennis history book chapter called "Williams Sisters" to expand. The great Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka won silver, and--to the joy of fans--the Russian team of Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova won bronze. That joy comes about because the impressive Kirilenko lost the bronze medal match in singles, and because--well, you know--Oh, Nadia.

Azarenka did go home with a gold medal. She and partner Max Mirnyi won the mixed doubles competition, and the ever-improving Laura Robson won the silver. Accompanying Robson was singles gold medal winner Andy Murray, so host country Great Britain had much to celebrate. Finally, talented and determined veteran Lisa Raymond, with partner Mike Bryan, won the bronze medal in mixed doubles.

I should add that I especially enjoyed seeing the players' Olympic tennis outfits, and I couldn't get enough of Venus's red-white-and-blue braids. I like the Wimbledon all-white tradition, but the colors of many nations looked great against the green courts.


Dougy Messenger said...

Laura Robson is only 18. No top player has beaten her easily. A good guess is that within two years, she'll be a force with whom to reckon. Effortless power and good touch, too. The young lefty served 16 aces against Jankovic at Wimbledon 2011. JJ said that nobody had done that to he before. And, she's fun. She looks sleepy but is anything but that. A year ago, she was slow off the mark to her forehand side. Not so now. A little maturity, a bit more experience and she just might be one of the top five players, if not better. In her lies the Great British hope.

Sunny nine said...

Thanks for this entry Diane. Sogn and I chuckled at your title. I was also happy to see the 3 GS winners end up on the medal stand. What was nice is that Vika seemed thrilled about her bronze in singles and gold in mixed. Despite that I see many men on blogs get upset at the "grunting", my husband really likes Vika's attitude that you described so well. He just misses the shorts. His (and mine) opinion is different than most tennis fans-to him the shorts make the women look like athletes more than dresses and skirts. I know everyone has their own opinion. I also was thinking that the bronze medalist gets to celebrate more than the silver. In singles, both Azarenka and del Potro were ecstatic about their win for the bronze, but Sharapova and Federer were overshadowed because of celebration of the gold medalist in the match. Also I don't like the distinction of singles vs doubles or mixed, in terms of medal color. Maybe tennis fans are used to making the distinction in regular formats. But for other athletes, it doesn't seem to matter. Phelps seemed to count his singular gold medals the same as his team relay gold medals. I was thinking of this with regard to Azarenka and Federer. Both got gold in doubles and were elated at the time (Fed in 2008). But because of the expectations of needing gold in SINGLES on your resume for the GOAT, the pundits played down their single efforts. I liked what Fed said-paraphrasing-that he won the silver, he didn't lose the gold. He fought hard over the week and especially in the semis to get what he got.
I like the Olympics but there shouldn't be points given. You are playing for your country with all sports brought together. It is about sport not a sport. Plus, except for the men's best of 5 in the final, this is no different than what the seeds play at IW or Miami-6 rds of 2 of 3 sets. The difference is the world's focus and the athlete's country's focus on the player. For that, for just the love of sport and country, points shouldn't' be given just like money isn't.

Eric said...

quotes for you:,,12781~2873742,00.html

Eric said...

Oh and Beyond the Baseline had some nice quotes too.

The one from C.Woz stuck out...and the one about Maria footing the bill, too...

Diane said...

I'm quite pleased with Robson's progress--I plan to keep an eye on her. That serve!

I prefer the shorts, too, for the same reason. However, I thought Azarenka's "Belarus look" was great.

Not sure how I feel about the points. I'm able to look at that issue from both sides.

Thanks, Eric, for the quotes. Robson's cracked me up.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Actually one of the best out there from an American writer. Thank you.

Diane said...

You're welcome :)