Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Still crazy after all these years

Last year, after she lost to Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, then-defending champion Serena Williams told the press she just "went crazy" during the match. When she arrived in Melbourne this year, she said in a press conference: "One year I went crazy. A couple of years ago I went completely crazy."

She went crazy again in her 2009 Australian Open quarterfinal, too--but in a good way. Still not serving well, and still not acting like Serena Williams the champion, she lost the first set, 5-7, to an in-form Svetlana Kuznetsova. Then there was a half-hour break while the roof was finally put in place. In the second set, Williams was down 3-5, and broke Kuznetsova when she served for the match. Williams then held, then broke Kuznetsova again, and went on to take the set, 7-5. In the third set, Williams found her serve again and dominated, winning it 6-1.

Of course, there is talk about whether Kuznetsova would have won if there had not been a long roof break. Who knows? Tennis is filled with "what if?"s such as this. One notable thing about this match was that Kuznetsova did not go into choke mode; she was simply outplayed by a force called Serena.

Of the three women who are expert at coming back from behind at the last moment--Williams, Dinara Safina and Jelena Dokic--two are still standing.

Unfortunately, Williams punctuated her win by telling an interviewer: "I told myself I need to man up or go home." Williams, of all people, should know that maleness does not equal courage. "Man up," the latest version of "has balls," perpetuates the myth that one--even a female one--must embrace maleness in order to be strong and brave.


Anonymous said...

I didn't see--haven't yet seen--the Williams-Kuznetsova match but caught the "man up" bit of the interview and winced.

Sasha said...

This was an absolutely disgusting decision to put the roof on during the match and not before or after. If I were Svetlana Kuznetsova, I would embed one of my rackets in Craig Tilley's skull right now. Kuznetsova was just getting in control of the match when it is called off for half an hour to do the roof (think of it as an injury time-out six times over, which is blatantly going to snap the concentration of the leading player.) How people can call Serena a great sportswoman is laughable when she can't even deal with the conditions that her other opponents can. If her name is engraved on the champion's trophy on Saturday it will be the wrong one, after Azarenka and Kuznetsova should have won. I have never had much respect for Serena as a player (or the Australian Open team as organisers, for that matter) but today was a whole new low.

Sorry about that. Rant over.

Diane said...

I was pretty outraged about the roof, too, Sasha. So was Dementieva, in her interview. It was so hot, and they knew they were going to have to put the roof on, so why not do it before the match?

Sasha said...

Oh gosh, I sounded pretty outraged in that last comment which I didn't mean to. I think they should see the forecast at the very beginning of the day and either put it on before any of the matches have started so it makes it all fair. It's a drastic change becuase it's like changing the match from an outside to an inside court, and the players have not trained for those conditions.