Monday, April 4, 2016

Defending champion Kerber fit and ready for action in Charleston

Photo by Daniel Ward
Charleston defending champion Angelique Kerber looked very fit and relaxed today as she chatted with the media during the Volvo Car Open All Access Hour. Kerber reported that she had taken a couple of days off, undergone treatment for her leg, and that she has been practicing without having the leg taped. She said she was happy to be in Charleston, and talked about her appreciation of the locals' friendliness and hospitality.

Kerber joined the other top seeds in emphasizing the need for equal prize money in professional tennis. Her countrywoman, Andrea Petkovic, the 2014 champion, said that she was angry about the way the equal prize money issue has been represented in the press--that news stories lead the public to believe that equal prize money exists in places that it doesn't. Petkovic said she had hoped that more progress would have been made in this area by now, and that it saddens her to realize the level of sexism that continues to exist.

Photo by Daniel Ward
Venus Williams, whose 2006 op-ed in The Times led to the establishment of equal prize money at Wimbledon, spoke at length about the issue. "It’s important," she said, "for men to get on board because these same men have daughters, they have wives, they have sisters, and they should want those same opportunities for those people in their family." Williams said that she thought things had progressed a bit more than they have. "It’s a wake-up call for me to not sit still, and it’s made me examine what else I can do, not just for women’s tennis, but for women everywhere."

Also attending All Access Hours were Sloane Stephens, Sara Errani, Belinda Bencic, and Madison Keys. Stephens, who has partnered with Soles4Souls and is collecting shoes while she is at the Volvo Car Open. (Donation of a pair of gently used shoes gets you a pair of tickets to one of her Charleston matches.) The 7th seed good-humoredly responded to a question about her memories of Charleston that "I must like it here--I've won only one match and I keep coming back."

Sara Errani talked a little about her health issue: The Italian star has iron deficiency, and is taking supplements to correct the problem. Iron deficiency is not uncommon among athletes; however, Errani says hers is an inherited health issue.

Photo by Daniel Ward
Belinda Bencic, when asked what it was like to have people recognize her on the street, said that no one recognizes her when she goes out, so there is no problem (I probably wasn't the only one who was thinking "yet"). The young Swiss star talked about how much she has learned from her coach, Melanie Molitor, and from Martina Hingis, about how to handle off- as well as on-court concerns on the tour. I asked her if she likes to read, and she became quite animated, saying she loves to read, but "no ebooks"--she likes to hold the books in her hands.

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