Tennis

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Leander Paes: My race


“In this modern age of living in limelight,  everybody wants to be a hero. People will bark,  let them bark,  they will look bad themselves. I will run my race. Till a junior comes and says ‘Lee,  I am beating you all the time’,  till I am winning Grand Slams,  I will continue to play. I had to earn it and others will also have to earn it. ”

—Leander Paes. 

Arthur Ashe: Real joy


“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself,  your own highest standards,  and when you reach your limits,  that is real joy.” 

—Arthur Ashe. 

Sania Mirza: Dressing


“How I dress is a very personal thing.” 

—Sania Mirza. 

Mahesh Bhupathi: Run with your mind


“After a certain distance,  you run with your mind,  not with your legs.” 

—Mahesh Bhupathi. 

Rajdeep Sardesai, Sania Mirza se panga mat le


How could a seasoned journalist like Rajdeep Sardesai appear so crass, insensitive and sexist on national television?

That’s the question that must be uppermost in the minds of most of his fans (I am one of his many admirers—he also happens to be a Xavierite)  when the veteran journo committed a faux pas by asking India’s number one female tennis star, Sania Mirza , the following query:

“Amidst all the celebrityhood, when is Sania going to settle down? Is it going to be in Dubai? Is it going to be in any other country? What about motherhood… building a family… I don’t see all that in the book, it seems like you don’t want to retire just yet to settle down.

…You don’t talk about retirement, about raising a family, about motherhood, what’s life beyond tennis is going to be…”

The response was swift and acerbic—typical Sania.

“You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that.”

Sardesai quickly backtracked realising his erroneous line of questioning.

He said:

“I must apologise, I framed that question very badly. I promise you, you’re right, I would never ask this question to a male athlete…”

True, very true. Such a question would never be put to a male sportsperson.

Neither should it be put to any sportsperson.

There was very little logic  or reasoning to Sardesai’s enquiry. These are the type of questions every single career woman (or man)  learns to field  from ‘friendly’ , inquisitive neighbourhood ‘aunties‘—not from a TV presenter of Sardesai’s caliber.

While not detracting from the many sacrifices she has made to come so far,  it must be pointed out that Mirza is in her late 20s—not late 30s. She is a happily married, healthy young woman. She can have it all—should she choose. 

The interrogation was improper. And Sardesai had his just desserts.

Mirza was on television promoting her autobiography ‘Ace against odds’ coauthored with her father Imran Mirza and journalist Shivani Gupta.

Roger Federer almost pulls off another miracle


He almost pulled off another miracle,  didn’t he? 

After coming back from the dead against Marin Cilic in the quarters, Roger Federer was leading 2-1 against Milos Raonic only to lose his bearings—figuratively and literally—failing in the last two sets in yet another gruelling five-setter. 

The Swiss missed the French Open this year—his first Grand Slam since 1999,  ending an unbelievable streak of appearances. 

With Novak Djokovic knocked out early,  die-hard Fed fans believed this was his best chance to clinch his 18th Slam. But it was always going to prove an uphill battle for a 34-year-old. Realists would not begrudge another championship for the great but their expectations are always tempered and tinged with a healthy dose of skepticism. 

In the end, it proved to be too much even for the tennis machine. The cracks and the strain were visible towards the end of the fourth set with Roger dropping his serve in the final game to lose the set without taking it into another nail-biting tie-breaker. 

But he had done enough to revive Wimbledon out of its stupor. 

Britain’s favourite son,  Andy Murray,  might clinch yet another title on the hallowed grass of the All-England Championship. 

But for many,  this Wimbledon is simply to be Federer’s thing of beauty—forever. 

Marcus Willis’ fairy tale at Wimbledon ends with Roger Federer


Marcus Willis will have that beer.

He’s earned it.

Capturing seven games in his second round match against Roger Federer he surely deserves one.

The man owes it all to a girl—a girl he met this February, a dentist named Jennifer Bates.

He fell in love, turned himself around and found himself in round two of this year’s Wimbledon earning himself 50,000 pounds.

Brexit might have taken its toll on the UK’s currency but that could not dim the

£30-an-hour part-time Wokingham tennis coach’s joy.

Beating Ricardas Berankis, ranked 54, in the first round was unexpected.

But qualifying for Wimbledon proper required him to win six gruelling matches.

As Goran Ivanisevic, his idol, put it:

“I love this story. This is great.

Pre-qualifying, then qualifiers, winning the first round against a not easy player. Berankis can play.

It’s just great. Perfect. He will go on Centre Court or Court One.

The biggest match of his life and he has won already. For him he is a winner. He is the story of Wimbledon and it cannot get better than this.

He cannot beat Roger Federer, no chance but he does not care. He has won already seven matches and he won Wimbledon for him. This is it.

He will go on Centre or Court One. He is the happiest man, whether he comes to the match sober or drunk it doesn’t make any difference.

Everyone will love him and support him and Roger will be nice to him.

Eventually maybe not but it’s going to be great. I think he should quit after this. Retire. Because this is it.

It does not get better than this. Great, well done, I’m really so happy for the guy.”

Roger Federer had nothing but respect for Willis. He treated him as a top-50 player because “because that’s the level he was playing at”.

Willis sounded both disappointed and upbeat after his loss.

He said:

“It sounds funny, but I’m disappointed to lose. I went out there trying to win.

I’ve had a fantastic few weeks, and this has been great, but there’s life after Wimbledon, and I want more. More experiences like this. I have to knuckle down and work harder.

I’m absolutely exhausted. I might wait and calm down. But I’ve earned myself a beer, I think.

I haven’t thought (about marrying Jennifer) , to be honest. This whole few weeks have been a bit of a blur. But I do like her quite a bit.

Amazing. It’s not my standard Wednesday.”

Has he seen Wimbledon, the movie?

“I haven’t. People are telling me about it, but I’ve never seen it, really. I’m not a massive film watcher. I’m quite fidgety. I’m more of a doer than a watcher.”

Andy Murray, his fellow countryman, batted for Willis insisting that journeymen deserved more money.

He said:

“The first thing is we need to improve the prize money at Futures level. I think it’s stayed the same since the 1980s. The cost of everything has gone up massively since then so it’s impossible to stay at that level for more than a couple of years.

Someone like Marcus, if he had lost in the pre-qualifying at Wimbledon, we wouldn’t have this unbelievable story and he might not be coming back to play in January. You never know. There has to be more money at the bottom of the game.

It’s a difficult one.Because now players are breaking through later than they ever were before so they are obviously finding ways to hang around. A lot of the guys play club tennis to try to make some extra money, which helps. We don’t have that in this country. You can travel to Europe and do that. In Spain they have a few more money tournaments.”

Willis is ranked 772 in the world.

But for the match against Federer he dressed up wearing not just  Roger’s classic white Nike bandana headband but an R.F.-branded shirt as well.

At the end of the match, he was not just another pretender but Marcus WillisWillis,  a 25-year-old from Slough,  able to trade blows with the best in the business.

For most people, the story will be about Marcus’ two magical weeks at Wimbledon.

But Willis knows better.

It started earlier, much earlier, with a girl named Jennifer.

Leander Paes: Parents and champions


“Parents who wish to mould their kids into champions must recognise that the support system of the family is essential for an athlete’s success. Without your support, your child’s dreams will never grow wings.”

—Leander Paes.

Venus Williams: Fashion and function


“Fashion is very important for me, so (whatever I wear or design) always has to be fashionable. But clearly it also has to be functional. They go hand-in-hand. I wouldn’t pick one over the other. But it’s easy to design something functional without being fashionable. It’s about challenging yourself to push it a little bit.”
—Venus Williams.

Harvard Business School has a celebrity student—Maria Sharapova!


Maria Sharapova is full of surprises.

Just when her detractors and critics believed that she must be moping around waiting and hoping for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to reduce or revoke her suspension, Sharapova—the magician—pulled out a rabbit from her proverbial hat.

The long-legged Russian beauty is going to school at Harvard.

The shrewd businesswoman that she is, Maria probably realised that time spent away from the court can be best utilised learning how to run her Sugarpova business better.

While it sounds like a wonderful idea, it’s also an opportunity for her to reflect on her particular situation.

James Blake who spent two years at Harvard but dropped out to pursue his tennis career had some advice for the suspended player.

 

Sharapova is the not the only woman player to opt for Business Administration when returning to studies.

Venus Williams is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Indiana University East.

The tuition fees and living costs is small change for Sharapova who presides over a multi-million dollar empire.

The DNA India titled their report on the news flash:

Real woman of substance: Maria Sharapova to go to Harvard Business School

That seems a tad overdone but there are worse things Maria Sharapova could do away from the sport.

Update: Sharapova will be attending a two-week executive education program at Harvard—not the full-fledged MBA. 

Her agent, Max Eisenbud, told The Associated Press that it involves just two classes on campus.

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