Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Ana Ivanovic says that she overtrained last year, and overtraining caused her to become injured. She is now working with Damian Prasad on her fitness in preparation for the Australian Open; her fitness work with Mark McGrath ended after two weeks. She is also back with former coach Sven Groenefeld.

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison has purchased the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and has also purchased the complex where the tournament is held.

Justine Henin says she expects to be a better player this year than she was before.

Vera Zvonareva is in Florida working with Scott Byrnes following her rehab from surgery.

James LaRosa calls Dinara Safina the most compelling tennis character of 2009. I think I agree.

I don't usually find the "funny" items on blogs and websites very funny at all, but--partly because I so dislike the "Looking For a Hero" slogan and campaign--I cannot stop laughing over the Marion Bartoli Fan Site's take on it. If you're a Marion fan, then you know this is also the perfect tribute.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Molik and Rogowska get Australian Open wild cards

Alicia Molik, who lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian wild card playoffs, has been given one of the tournament's discretionary wild cards. Also getting a wild card is Olivia Rogowska, who lost to Casey Dellacqua in the final of the playoffs.

Eight wild cards are granted to the tournament. In addition to Dellacqua, Molik and Rogowska, one player from Asia, one player from France, and one player from the USA are given wild cards. Former world number 1 Justine Henin was granted the first wild card, and the final one will be awarded next month. Yanina Wickmayer is hoping to get it, but Australian officials say that it is unlikely that she will be the recipient. However, since "rising stars" are eligible, Wickmayer is, at least technically, still in the running.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dinara Safina is blogging from Monte Carlo.

Tom Perrotta says that going through qualifying to get into the Australian Open main draw may not be the worst thing that can happen to Yanina Wickmayer.

Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who won the Sony Ericsson Championships, were honored in Barcelona last week by the Association of Tennis Journalists.

Bobby Chintapalli has my respect for number 8 on her list.

A shout-out to Peter Bodo for his realization that the end of the decade is a year away.

Kamakshi Tandon has put together a list of memorable 2009 quotations. Of course, Serena Williams and Marat Safin earned their own post.

Williams named AP Female Athlete of the Year

Serena Williams has been named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. 66 of 158 editors cast their votes for Williams, who also won the award in 2002.

Williams, who finished 2009 as number 1 in the world, won two majors this year, as well as the Sony Ericsson Championships. She and her sister, Venus, won three majors in doubles.

It was a good year for tennis: Kim Clijsters placed third in the voting.

William was also named the ITF female World Champion for 2009.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Zheng Jie has parted ways with the China Tennis Association. Like countrywomen Li Na, Peng Shuai and Yan Zi, Zheng will manager her own career.

Oracle is considering buying both the BNP Paribas Open and the Indian Wells complex in which it is played.

Dubai, facing debts, may have to scale back its commitment to major sports events.

Anne Keothavong, determined to save her countrywomen from showing up in the usual Euro-trash attire, is working with Paul Costelloe to design Great Britain's Fed Cup off-court outfits for 2010. (Thanks to On the Baseline for this story.)

Justine Henin has been given a wild card to the Medibank International Sydney in January.

"Players to Watch" series

I am pleased to once again be a guest writer for On the Baseline's "Players to Watch" series.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dellacqua wins wild card playoff

Casey Dellacqua has won the Australian Open wild card playoffs in Australia. Dellacqua defeated Olivia Rogowska 1-6, 6-7, 6-3. Rogowska, who was the number 1 seed, served for the match in the second set, and held three match points in the tiebreak, but could not convert them.

There is still a chance that Rogowska will receive a discretionary wild card.

Dellacqua, who was off the tour most of this season because of shoulder surgery, made it to the round of 16 in last year's Australian Open.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dellacqua and Rogowska to meet in final

Top seed Olivia Rogowska defeated Jessica Moore today in the Australian Open wild card playoffs in Australia, while Casey Dellacqua defeated Sally Peers. The winner of tomorrow's final will get a wild card into the main draw in Melbourne. Should Dellacqua lose, however, she--like Alicia Molik, who lost in the quarterfinals--will still be under consideration to receive a discretionary wild card.

Molik knocked out of wild card playoffs

Jessica Moore defeated Alicia Molik 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday in Australia's wild card playoffs for the Australian Open main draw. Moore now advances to the semifinals.

Since her return to professional tennis, Molik has put together a 37-4 win record and has reached the finals of four ITF events, winning three of them. When she first announced her comeback, she said she would play doubles only, but she has since competed well in singles.

Molik can still get a discretionary wild card into the main draw.

Friday cat blogging--autumn chill edition

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Players saved at least one match point and went on to win the tournament seven times this season.

Victoria Azarenka is no longer being coached by Antonio van Grichen.

Jelena Dokic has become the latest player to join the Moratoglou Academy in Paris. She joins Aravane Rezai and Sorana Cirstea. Dokic's principal coach will still be Borna Bikic.

Serena Williams and Andy Roddick have responded to the addition of mixed doubles to the Olympic Games by announcing their desire to compete as a team. There is also speculation that Venus Williams will team with Bob Bryan.

Sam Stosur has been working on her slice backhand.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Azarenka enters Family Circle Cup

World number 7 Victoria Azarenka has entered the 2010 Family Circle Cup in Charleston. Azarenka reached the third round in Charleston in 2008, then lost an exciting match against Elena Dementieva.

The Family Circle Cup will be held April 10-April 18. Melanie Oudin, Maria Sharapova and Caroine Wozniacki have already entered.

ITF lifts Wickmayer ban

Yanina Wickmayer had to wait only one day--though that was probably a very long day--to get her one-year suspension officially removed by the International Tennis Federation. Cleared by a Belgian court on Monday, Wickmayer then had to wait for the ITF to make its decision. The ITF consulted with the World Anti-Doping Agency, and today, announced that the Belgian player was free to compete.

Wickmayer has a wild card to play in Brisbane, and hopes to obtain a wild card to play in the Australian Open.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Justine Henin has won another exhibition match, this time in Cairo. She defeated Nadia Petrova 7-6, 6-2.

Melanie Oudin defeated Serena Williams 7-5 in an exhibition match in Athens, Georgia.

Naomi Broady has now won three ITF tournaments in three weeks.

Unseeded Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski upset top seed Kristina Mladenovic in the final of the 18s singles final of the 2009 Orange Bowl.

Virginia Ruano Pascual will play doubles with Sania Mirza at the Australian Open.

On the Baseline has an exclusive interview with Martina Hingis.

Belgian court removes Wickmayer's suspension

Yanina Wickmayer's one-year suspension was removed today by a Belgian court. The suspension was imposed--despite the prosecutor's recommendation of imposing a warning only--because of the Belgian player's failure to report her whereabouts to anti-doping authorities three times during 2009. The International Tennis Federation then made the Belgian ban international.

The ITF has yet to comment on the the reversal. Wickmayer also appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, and will get a ruling from that body within the next three months.

Now comes the twist: The World Anti-Doping also appealed to CAS--to give Wickmayer (and countryman Xavier Malisse) a two-year suspension instead of a one-year suspension.

To add to the complexity of this issue, Wickmayer's attorneys are planning to challenge the "whereabouts rule" in the European Commission in Brussels and the European Court of Human Rights.

It is still unknown whether Wickmayer will be able to compete in the ASB Classic next month. She was given a wild card to the New Zealand tournament.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mauresmo on video--a fitting tribute

This is the final video in the series. Please enjoy this lovely blend of Amelie and the Indigo Girls. Perhaps you'd like to leave a comment for the creator of this touching tribute to a great sportswoman.


Kim Clijsters defeated Venus Williams 6-1, 7-5 in the Diamond Games exhibition in Antwerp.

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario has been ordered by the Spanish Supreme Court to pay $5.1 million in back taxes. The Spanish star maintained she was not a resident of Spain from 1989 to 1993, but the court rejected her claim. (via On the Baseline)

Mixed doubles is returning to the Olympic Games.

Dinara Safina has withdrawn from the Brisbane International tournament because of her back injury.

On January 7, Yanina Wickmayer will learn whether her one-year suspension will be lifted. She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the ban removed.

Friday cat blogging--casual Friday sunshine edition

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mauresmo on video--Wimbledon

Amelie's greatest moment came at Wimbledon in 2006.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Win a racquet signed by Justine Henin!

Women's Tennis Blog is giving one lucky--and eloquent--fan a tennis racquet signed by four-time French Open winner Justine Henin. To enter the contest, all you have to do is subscribe, via email, to Women's Tennis Blog, and then answer the question, "How will the comeback of Justine Henin change/affect the women's tennis scene in 2010?" To answer the question, you simply leave a comment on the contest post.

A jury of six will evaluate the comments and choose the winner. The contest closes on December 19 at 6 p.m. CET. Details are available at Women's Tennis Blog.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mauresmo on video--oops...

A reader of this blog was able to find what I could not. Thanks to Paulina, you, too, can see Amelie fall out of her chair.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mauresmo on video--"I am what I am"

Amelie was one of the featured athletes in Reebok's "I am what I am" campaign.

Vandeweghe gets wild card to Australian Open

Coco Vandeweghe, playing in the first three-set match of the Australian Open wild card playoff tournament in Atlanta, defeated Christina McHale 7-6, 0-6, 6-3 in today's final.

McHale was last year's wild card playoff winner, but she had to retire in the first round of the Open because of severe cramping. Vandeweghe, the 2008 U.S. Open junior champion, turned 18 yesterday.

Wozniacki enters Family Circle Cup

World number 4 and last year's finalist, Caroline Wozniacki has entered the 2010 Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina. Wozniacki, who was also a finalist at the U.S. Open, won three titles in 2009. She lost to Sabine Lisicki in last year's Charleston tournament.

Also entered are Melanie Oudin and Maria Sharapova.


Justine Henin recently defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-4 in an exhibition match in Belgium. Henin says of her return: "I have nothing to prove to other people, only to myself. I want to prove that I am calmer and more mature now."

Abigail Lorge looks back at the 2009 season.

Nine out of the tour's top ten women are scheduled to play in Sydney. Venus Williams has not entered the tournament.

Here is a preview of Maria Sharapova's Australian Open dress.

Here is a summary of who moved up and down the most in ranking points this season.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mauresmo on video--Australian Open championship

Winning the 2006 Australian Open was one of Amelie's greatest achievements.

Vandeweghe and McHale to compete for Australian Open wild card

The second round of the Australian Open wild card playoffs was held today in Atlanta. Coco Vandeweghe defeated Julia Boserup 6-4, 6-4, and Christina McHale defeated Alison Riske 6-4, 6-2. Vandeweghe and McHale will play tomorrow to determine who goes to the main draw of the Australian Open. McHale won last year's wild card playoffs.

Australian Open wild card playoffs in progress

Julia Boserup is the final entrant in the USTA's Australian Open wild card playoffs. Also, Julia Cohen is not playing; she was replaced by Grace Min. Play began yesterday, with these results:

Boserup def. Brengle, 6-3, 6-4
Riske def. Min, 6-4, 6-4
McHale def. Goldfield, 6-3, 6-2
Vandeweghe def. Muhammed, 6-4, 6-2

Today's matches are:
Boserup vs. Vandeweghe
Riske vs. McHale

The final will be played on Monday.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mauresmo on video

During the next several days, I'll be posting some videos of Amelie Mauresmo, who retired from professional tennis yesterday. I'm sorry to report that the video of Amelie falling off the chair during a press conference is no longer available. That bit of unintentional slapstick only added to her charm.

To start, here is the famous slice backhand in slow motion.

Friday cat blogging--cozy nap edition

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Au revoir, Amelie--the pleasure was all ours

original image courtesy of after atalanta

Amelie Mauresmo retired from professional tennis today, telling those gathered at her press conference that she could no longer put in the hard work that is required to play at the top of the game. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman's announcement was hardly a surprise; she said earlier in the year that she was considering retirement.

"I was lucky enough to have an exceptional career and to experience very strong feelings on the court," Mauresmo said. "I lifted trophies in every city in the world, and I lived ten magical and unbelievable years."

I can't remember when I first noticed Amelie Mauresmo. I do recall, though, that she very quickly became my favorite player on the tour. Her grace, shot variety, court intelligence, and wit drew me to her and made me a big fan. And of course, there was that gorgeous backhand with the deadly slice.

Each generation produces a player of superior grace: Maria Bueno, Evonne Goolagong, Hana Mandlikova, and Gabriela Sabatini all engaged in the dance of tennis, as well as the game. Then came Mauresmo. A sports writer once said of the Frenchwoman, "Tennis flows from her," and that is a wonderfully concise description of what Mauresmo's elegant game is all about.

When Mauresmo was only four, she watched Frenchman Yannick Noah win the French Open, and she decided that she would become a tennis player. It wasn't easy for her. For a long time, she had to deal with a fragile back, a problem she got around by changing her service motion, which then led to other players doing likewise. More significant, however, was Mauresmo's fragile court psyche. For a long time, she was considered the biggest head case on the women's tour, and Roland Garros was the scene of her shakiest mentality. Mauresmo is wildly popular in France, and the presumed pressure on her to win the French Open was more than she could handle.

It wasn't that Mauresmo was weak on clay. She won big tournaments like Rome and Berlin, continually fueling French hope for victory at Roland Garros. But it was not to be; rather, it was on an indoor court, a bouncy hard court, and a grass court that the French star created her greatest victories.

Mauresmo turned pro in 1993, and in 1999--19 years old and unseeded--she was the finalist at the Australian Open, losing in straight sets to Martina Hingis. She also made the top 10 for the first time that year. In 2002, Mauresmo made it to the semifinals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and lost to Serena and Venus Williams, respectively. The next year, she led France to Fed Cup victory.

Hampered by injuries to her back, leg, knee, rib, and ankle, Mauresmo missed a lot of tennis, but nevertheless continued to win important tournaments and to make consistently high showings at other tournaments. In 2004, she became the first French player, male or female, to be ranked number 1 in the world, but held the position for only five weeks. She made it to the Wimbledon semifinals and lost to Serena Williams again. At the end of the year, Mauresmo scored 3-0 in round-robin play at the year-end championsips. One of her victories was over Maria Sharapova, who won the tournamnent.

The next year--still plagued by back and adductor injuries--she reached the Wimbledon semifinals again, this time losing to Lindsay Davenport. Then, at the end of 2005, came what was later seen as a major breakthrough: Mauresmo, having announced that she felt "burned out," nevertheless proceeded to win the year-end championships, defeating Mary Pierce in the final. The Frenchwoman took the confidence that came from that victory into her 2006 season, which--for some of us--became the Year of Amelie.

Mauresmo was number 1 in the world for most of 2006, which began with a subdued and bittersweet victory in Melbourne. In the second set of the Australian Open final, with Mauresmo leading 6-1, 2-0, her opponent, Justine Henin, retired because of illness. After waiting so long to win a major, the Frenchwoman was denied hearing "Game, set, match--Mauresmo!" Instead of falling to the ground or jumping into the air, she walked over to Henin, sat down, and consoled her, then addressed the crowd with relative restraint.

However, Mauresmo was to get her sweetest victory of all later that year, when she and Henin competed in the final of Wimbledon, and Mauresmo took the title, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. With this win, she became the first Frenchwoman in the Open Era to hold the Venus Rosewater Cup. In her interview, Mauresmo suggested that fans stop talking about her nerves. I will never forget the moment she won; later, I bought champagne to celebrate the occasion.

Many of us assumed 2007 would also be a great year for Amelie, but--as so often happens in sports--a bit of bad luck all but ruined her season. She had to withdraw from several tournaments because of an emergency appendectomy. Following her recovery, an adductor strain (most likely caused by insufficient post-operative healing) knocked her out of both Toronto and the U.S. Open, and she finished the year as number 18 in the world.

In 2008, Mauresmo suffered repeated injury to her thigh. She parted ways with long-time coach Loic Courteau, who is also a close friend, and hired Hugo Lecoq. She was obviously low in confidence, and she finished the year as number 24 in the world. 2009 looked like it would be a year of resurgence when she won her 25th title in Paris in February. On her way to victory, Mauresmo defeated Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva. "She's back!" we thought, but that French victory was to be her last. Mauresmo continued to deal with injuries to her thigh and her abdomen, and--having played some of her best tennis in New Haven--she ended her season early, and finished this year just outside the top 20.

The woman who best exhibits what tennis commentator Mary Carillo calls "French flair" has had an impressive career. She won Paris, Philadelphia, Berlin, and Rome twice apiece, and she also had victories in Linz, Warsaw, Dubai, Nice, Amelia Island, Sydney, and Bratislava. Mauresmo also won the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp three times within a five-year span, which earned her a diamond-encrusted racquet.

Mauresmo won two doubles titles with friend Svetlana Kuznetsova, and one with Chanda Rubin. She was on the French Fed Cup team for a total of nine years, and she was also on the 2000 and 2004 French Olympic teams. In 2004, she won an Olympic silver medal in singles. In 2007, Mauresmo received the French Legion of Honor award.

An avid collector, the articulate Frenchwoman was always ready to discuss fine red wines in her interviews. She went on a difficult annual mountain climb to prepare for each tennis season, and she has long been a familiar figure, roaring through the streets on her motorcycle, in both Geneva and Paris.

She can also be quite funny. Once, after winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, a sports writer reminded her that there would be no French-speaking crowd to encourage her in Flushing Meadows. "Well," Mauresmo deadpanned, "there's a really big French-speaking crowd in Paris, and that hasn't helped me at all." On another occasion, she described the closeness of the French players as being similar to the closeness of the Russians. "We all go out and eat together at a restaurant like they do...but it's a smaller restaurant."

In 2007, I was very excited to learn that Mauresmo had entered the Family Circle Cup, which I attend every year. There is an award-winning vineyard where I live, and I made arrangements with the tournament to deliver a bottle of very good red wine to Amelie. I was so looking forward to meeting her, but she had to withdraw following her emergency surgery. Several big names withdrew that year, but it was Mauresmo's withdrawal that disappointed me the most.

Retirements are always sad for fans, and I've been through my share of them. To have my favorite player retire, however, creates a special kind of sadness. Amelie Mauresmo was a class act, on and off the court, and I was always proud to be her fan. But perhaps more significant is the fact that her departure also accentuates the rapid disappearance of the stylish, precision-based kind of tennis that is filled with strategy and variety--the kind of tennis that is a joy to watch. Mauresmo could volley, chip, charge, slice, and spin an opponent into total frustration, all the while performing with exceptionally graceful athleticism.

I know I speak for many when I say that Amelie will be missed, and will be remembered with great fondness. She was a model sportswoman who brought intelligence and style to the court, and who overcame difficult obstacles in order to become one of the most gracious and respected champions of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Best matches of 2009

Andy Schooler talks about the best matches of 2009, and you're likely to see your own favorites in this article.