Saturday, October 20, 2018

A funny thing happened on the way to this post

Photo by Daniel Ward
Last year, I showed a friend the now-famous New Haven "astronomy" video done by Petra Kvitova, Kiki Mladenovic, Aga Radwanska, and Domi Cibulkova, and he howled with laughter. This year, I texted him the New Haven serve clock video, and the next time I saw him, he told me, "Those women are funny! I mean, they're genuinely funny--they could do a comedy act!"

And I told him, yes--this is one of the many reasons I love the WTA--there is so much personality on the tour, and so much silliness.

The Backspinner calls it "the most interesting tour in the world," and it is (though props to the LPGA, which is pretty interesting, too). And one of the many things that makes it interesting is the vast store of humor that resides within it. From the sometimes-caustic and always clever wit of Maria Sharapova to the unfiltered hilarity of Jelena Jankovic to the self-deprecating, yet intelligent, humor of Andrea Petkovic--any WTA event is a funny venue.

Yes, we watch primarily for the beautiful tennis and the competitive excitement. But we also watch--not just the matches, but the press conferences and the videos--because members of the tour are entertaining in every way. I think back at all the players who have made me laugh--Kvitova, Radwanska, Jankovic, Sharapova, Serena Williams, Petko, Sveta Kuznetsova, Julia Goerges, the Dashas, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Laura Robson, Martina Hingis, the eternally droll Dinara Safina, and the master herself, Li Na--and I realize just how much I have laughed.

It's important to laugh. I can't think of a more empty state than having no sense of humor. Research shows us that laughter reduces stress and strengthens the immune system. It can also get us through hard times. And--considering how some sports fans take things (unfortunately, even some of the humor) so seriously--the comedy tour that is the WTA provides a lot of relief.

The aforementioned Safina, one of the tour's great philosophers (along with Kuznetsova, Jankovic, Petkovic and Francesca Schiavone), once said, "There are some moments when you want to break all the racquets and send everything to hell." That's true, at least metaphorically, for all of us. Thank goodness we have the comedy act of the WTA Tour to give us some relief.

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