What she said:
“Strong is sexy. I don’t think very skinny is attractive. I think healthy, strong and muscular is extremely attractive.”
Sania Mirza is not confused. She’s a tennis player first and then anything else or everything else.
The Indian tennis diva says:
“I have the kind of body that no matter how much weights I lift, I don’t look muscular – not that I have a problem with anyone looking muscular. I don’t bulk up, I don’t have that body shape or type, which is not a good or bad thing, it is what it is. Tennis is my first priority. If I don’t have tennis, I don’t have anything else. I don’t think anyone wants to photograph me if I’m not playing well. Tennis requires me to have a certain level of fitness and strength, and I’ll do everything I can to get there.”
What she really meant:
“Strong is beautiful. Isn’t that the WTA tag line for their promotional video. Can I say otherwise?”
What she definitely didn’t:
“I wonder why tennis players don’t come in ‘petite’ anymore.”
Eugenie Bouchard is not playing nice anymore.
WTA’s Most Improved Player of 2014 is suing the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the United States National Tennis Centre (USNTC).
The Canadian beauty slipped and fell in the women’s locker room after a mixed doubles match at the US Open suffering a concussion the ill-effects of which have not worn off a month later.
The accident was caused by a cleaning agent that was left overnight on the floor and meant to be applied when the room is no longer in use.
Bouchard claims that there was no warning sign highlighting the state of the floor.
Bouchard’s lawyer, Benedict Morelli, said:
“If they were going to do that, they should have closed the door and locked it off. And they didn’t do that.”
“We could be talking about millions and millions, we don’t know the extent yet.”
The World No. 39 has played just one match since retiring midway last week against Andrea Petkovic at the China Open and withdrawing from tournaments in Wuhan, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Bouchard is seeking actual, compensatory and statutory damages along with punitive damages, and wants a jury trial.
Chris Widmaier, the U.S.T.A.’s managing director of corporate communications, refused to comment saying it was against policy.
The suit states:
“Ms. Bouchard entered the physiotherapy room of the women’s locker room when she was caused to slip and fall by a slippery, foreign and dangerous substance on the floor.
The Defendants caused or created this slippery, foreign and dangerous substance to be on the floor, or knew or should have known that the slippery, foreign and dangerous substance was on the floor.
The Defendants failed to provide Ms. Bouchard with any warnings whatsoever regarding the aforementioned dangerous condition.”
Bouchard was named the world’s most marketable athlete last May by SportsPro, a UK-based magazine.
She was 2013’s WTA Newcomer of the Year.
It was in 2014 that she had her best results making the semi-finals at the Australian and French Opens. She was a finalist at Wimbledon and made the fourth round at the US Open. She attained a career-high ranking of 5.
This year, she suffered a slump in form but was regaining lost ground when she suffered her accident prior to her fourth round match against Roberta Vinci at Flushing Meadows. Vinci went on to make the final losing to compatriot Flavia Pennetta.
Concussions are a rare occurrence in tennis. It is a non-contact sport, after all.
WebMD describes it as “the most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury. The word comes from the Latin concutere, which means ‘to shake violently.’ It is usually caused by a sudden direct blow or bump to the head.”
“The brain is made of soft tissue. It’s cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain. Sometimes, it literally causes it to move around in your head. Traumatic brain injuries can cause bruising, damage to the blood vessels, and injury to the nerves.
The result? Your brain doesn’t function normally. If you’ve suffered a concussion, vision may be disturbed, you may lose equilibrium, or you may fall unconscious. In short, the brain is confused.”
The website adds:
“Concussions can be tricky to diagnose. Though you may have a visible cut or bruise on your head, you can’t actually see a concussion. Signs may not appear for days or weeks after the injury. Some symptoms last for just seconds; others may linger.”
Writing for Yahoo! Sports, Canada, Stephanie Myles cites the case of Sarah Borwell, a British player who was hit by American Lilia Osterloha’s ball at a WTA doubles tournament in Stanford, Connecticut in July 2010.
“‘Girls aren’t like boys where they go around you. She kind of went at me. I turned, and it hit the back of my skull, bottom left,’ Borwell said in an interview with Eh Game.
She kept playing, felt fine, and they won the match.
‘As soon as the adrenaline wore off I was a mess. I was feeling sick. I was dizzy, and my face swelled up on the lefthand side,’ Borwell said. ‘They monitored me for the evening, kept checking every hour and the next day, I had an MRI in San Francisco and they saw a bruise on my brain.’
Borwell was told she would probably be fine in a week. She went to San Diego for the next tournament but she still felt groggy, and had to stay in a dark room. She then flew to Montreal for the Rogers Cup, where they underwent what she termed some “basic tests” and was told she could go out and play.
She tried to practise. ‘I couldn’t walk straight, get my feet straight or anything,’ Borwell remembered.
A specialist who dealt with hockey players administered the SAC test. Orwell was asked to count backwards, month by month. She got as far as May. She couldn’t balance on one foot with her eyes closed. Her speech was slurred.
Orwell missed the US Open; she returned to action at the Quebec City tournament in mid-September, about six weeks after the original accident. Then she flew to India to compete in the Commonwealth Games, where she began having panic attacks just being around people and talking to them.
By the 2011 Australian Open (where she teamed up with Canadian Marie-Eve Pelletier), more than five months later, Borwell still was having issues, especially with verbal communication.
‘I’ve been hit before and if it hits you on the skull, you’re fine. But right at the base of my skull, it got a bit of the brain,’ she said. ‘When you have balls whizzing at your head … that was kind of the end of my career, to be honest.’
Borwell says it took her about a year to feel 100 per cent again. She continued to play, but she still didn’t feel like herself. ‘My short-term memory’s still not great. I’m finding it a lot more difficult to remember things, and my speech,’ she said.”
Wikipedia details post-concussion syndrome thus:
“In post-concussion syndrome, symptoms do not resolve for weeks, months, or years after a concussion, and may occasionally be permanent. About 10% to 20% of people have post concussion syndrome for more than a month. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, memory and attention problems, sleep problems, and irritability. There is no scientifically established treatment, and rest, a recommended recovery technique, has limited effectiveness. Symptoms usually go away on their own within months.The question of whether the syndrome is due to structural damage or other factors such as psychological ones, or a combination of these, has long been the subject of debate.”
Genie Bouchard has not been loquacious about the nature of her complaint on social media.
These are her latest posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram respectively.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 lists the duties of an employer as follows:
“SEC. 5. Duties
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
29 USC 654
While the USTA and the USNTC are certainly not Bouchard’s employers, they are duty-bound to ensure safety of the players on their premises during events they conduct.
We can only hope that Bouchard returns to the court soon putting aside the acrimony and recriminations that will certainly ensue from her legal action. WTA, too, wouldn’t wish to lose another rising star given that recent Grand Slam winners have been in the latter stages of their career opting out soon after realising their Grand Slam dreams. Li Na, Marion Bartoli and now Flavia Pennetta are the most recent additions to that brigade. Kim Clijsters is another.
The WTA tour’s marketability ebbs and flows with its players’ saleability.
One of their contemporary campaigns’ featured the tagline, “Strong is beautiful.”
Strong, in this case, is concussed and very much dizzy.
Caroline Wozniacki vows not to exhaust herself in 2015.
What she said:
“My only problem with Serena is that I’m tired of losing to her. So I told her, Watch out, I’m coming for you in 2015.”
Caroline Wozniacki nominated her good friend and fellow competitor on the WTA tour Serena Williams for this year’s Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
In a heartfelt essay, the Dane said:
“When you go through hard times, you find out who your true friends are, and Serena Williams was one of the first people to be there for me when my engagement unraveled last spring. She didn’t have to support me—she has her own life, her own problems and her own career to worry about—but she was there when I needed someone to lean on the most. We talked on the phone, and she told me that it was going to be hard to recover, but that when I did get to the other side, I was going to be a stronger person. And now I am.”
“Serena is always concerned about her family and friends. She stays true to her word and never changes her personality for anyone or anything. Throughout her career she has remained consistent as a person, and I think that is really admirable.
…When you play against Serena, you are playing against a fighter and a fierce competitor, but off the court, she is great to the fans and her friends and family. I think that shows a great athlete and a proper champion.”
What she really meant:
“And I’ve got marathon muscle twitch fibre to do it too. It’s going to be a long year, Serena.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“I’ve done one better than you this year, Serena. And that’s at the New York City marathon. That’s good enough for me, buddy.”
What she said:
“We’re not a sporting nation, we’re a cricketing nation. We need to accept that and stop pretending to be a sporting nation.”
Sania Mirza hopes that the International Premier Tennis League inspires more people to follow tennis and take up the sport.
“Leagues are becoming like a cult now. It popularises the sport. Look at what it did for kabaddi. The IPTL is going to do the same for tennis. We have some of the greatest players in the world coming and playing in the country. It’s going to be huge. To me, it’s the awareness that’s going to matter. We’re not a sporting nation, we’re a cricketing nation. We need to accept that and stop pretending to be a sporting nation. Why don’t we produce sporting stars? Well, because there’s no awareness. There’s no help. People don’t believe they can be a professional athlete, they think they can only be a cricketer. I think leagues like this help to motivate and inspire people to take up the sport. A lay man will get a chance to see Roger Federer playing live. How can you not be inspired after seeing his class?”
Mirza described her recent meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I did meet him alone though, but we spoke about my sister. He remembered my sister, which was pretty amazing. I still can’t believe it. She was a pistol shooter and he was the CM of Gujarat. He met her at some event. I had no clue that he even met her. It was amazing. Anyway, at the meeting he just asked me if I was happy and if I needed assistance for anything. It’s pretty amazing for a PM because he’s trying to help and trying to change things in the country. He is motivating.”
On not playing singles any more:
“Yeah, I do miss playing singles. But I do know that it was the right decision to concentrate on doubles. You can’t fight nature. If your body is screaming every morning, you can’t be stubborn and say you are going to keep on playing and kill the body. I want to be able to walk when I’m 40. I don’t want to be in pain all the time. And it’s actually very upsetting because you wake up in the morning and you’re not able to work as much as you want to. I have a certain joint condition. I’ve had three surgeries. So yeah, at that moment it was the toughest call. I was still top-100 in the world, so it was not easy. I do miss it. But look at the bigger picture. If I was still playing singles I wouldn’t still be playing tennis any more. I’d probably be injured. It wasn’t about ‘if getting injured’, it was the question of ‘when’.”
What she really meant:
“To repeat a cliche (ad nauseam) ‘Cricket is a religion for us Indians and cricketers our gods. Other sporting heroes are minor deities to be recalled only on festive days (days when we actually win something)’. Every young boy wants to be a cricketer and will not even consider playing another sport.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“I should have this statement emblazoned on my tee. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
What she said:
“I was like, ‘I’ve got this; I’m cool; it’s going to be easy. And then I started running more, and in Asia I felt like, ‘Where am I going to run?’ I started panicking a little bit — uh oh, it’s getting close, and I don’t know if I can do this.”
Tennis heartthrob Caroline Wozniacki feels training for the New York City marathon has aided her tennis game specifically helping her outlast Maria Sharapova in a three-hour three-set match at the year-ending WTA championship.
“I think you can never feel too sure in life. You can’t really plan ahead because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. To be honest, this half of the year I’ve been great tennis-wise, and the running and everything has definitely helped me with everything. It’s cleared my head, but also it’s helped me physically, and I feel stronger on the court. So it’s been a great thing for me. It’s a nice challenge.”
What he said:
“Williams brothers…Look at our athletes–elegant and beautiful. I have tremendous respect for them [Williams sisters], but once one of the sisters passed next to me, and I found myself in her shadow for about forty seconds. They are so physically powerful. Weren’t you afraid to play against them?”
Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev made a hash of a television show referring to the William sisters, Venus and Serena, as men casting aspersions on their beauty, style of play and domination of women’s tennis in a single disparaging remark.
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) CEO Stacey Allaster responded harshly to Tarpischev’s provocative comments with a $25,000 fine. Tarpischev has also been suspended from any involvement with the WTA for a year.
Allaster’s full statement:
“The statements made by Shamil Tarpischev on Russian television with respect to two of the greatest athletes in the history of women’s tennis are insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place in our sport. Serena Williams and Venus Williams are champions on and off the court – outstanding human beings, incredible sportswomen and amazing role models who have done so much to inspire women and girls around the world to achieve their dreams.
The WTA was founded on the principles of equality, opportunity and respect, and Venus and Serena embody all of these attributes. Mr. Tarpischev’s statement questioning their gender tarnishes our great game and two of our champions. His derogatory remarks deserve to be condemned and he will be sanctioned.
As a result of his comments, I have ordered Mr. Tarpischev to be fined $25,000, the maximum allowed under WTA rules. In addition, he will be suspended from any involvement with the WTA for one year and we are seeking his removal from his position as Chairman of the Board of the Kremlin Cup for one year. His re-instatement will be dependent on good behavior. Mr. Tarpischev’s private letter of acknowledgement is a start. However, Mr. Tarpischev owes Venus and Serena Williams a personal apology, as well as other players and tennis fans everywhere, a public apology.”
“I really don’t like powerful women especially when they can beat the socks out of me (and everybody else) at tennis.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“How about a Bobby Riggs type of match-up, Williamses?”
The trio of Ws coming together could generate more than enough hype and hoopla to keep sports writers busy for the next 14 days.
Maria Sharapova is making headlines—not for her fashion sense, boyfriends or her clothing line—but for her tennis. A fabulous run at the French Open reminded players and fans alike why she was considered one of the most exciting talents to burst onto the WTA tour at 17.
Li Na—her first ever major at Roland Garros—and a billion-plus Chinese fans ignited a Marco Polo-like rush to discover the next Chinese star.
The withdrawal of Kim Clijsters—an aggravation of her ankle injury—means that the Belgian is—for all practical purposes—-hobbled in her farewell year.
The Womens’ Tennis Association (WTA) have sanctioned the forming of a mutual aid society , No. 1s Anonymous (Who Have Never Won A Major), whose primary purpose is to help players stay focused (and No.1) and to help past and present No.1s clinch majors.
The self-help body is co-founded by Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina.