The Verdict Part 2

by Savannah

There’s a reason long legal documents should be read over a period of time. For a non legally trained mind the task becomes tedious – either you fall asleep or you get distracted by the latest foible of a favorite actor or singer, or immersed in a new television show.

Yes I’m copping a plea. I totally missed the tidbit of information buried in Paragraph 93 Section C of the CAS Report on one Maria Sharapova. I’m opting to post the whole of Paragraph 93.

93. In addition, the Panel notes that:
a. There had been no significantly publicized case of a Meldonium positive in
Olympic sports and no prior case at all in tennis;
b. The Player took a public position acknowledging that she took Meldonium
and that she accepted responsibility therefor, and she did so in a very public
way, calling a press conference, on her own, that brought worldwide
publicity to her case and to the use of Meldonium going forward;
c. The Panel gives no weight to the fact that the ITF later rejected her
application for a TUE to use Mildronate; that action in part precipitated her
appeal of the charges in this case, and so it could not be used as a basis to
justify a longer sanction as requested by the ITF.

Interesting isn’t it? Section C seems to say that Ms Sharapova tried to get what would be a post dated TUE for the ailments she claimed to be suffering from and the ITF wasn’t having it. It was after that rejection that the decision was taken by Sharapova and her team to appeal the ITF’s final decision.

I’ve also noticed that the CAS reached it’s decision based what can only be called bold faced lies. To the ITF Sharapova said that she failed to read the emails, the cards, or the notifications by RUSADA, her tennis federation. According to the CAS report no one tried to notify her leaving she and her agent (who was allegedly in charge of keeping her anti doping regimen up to date) in the dark. She’s now taking the position that she is a victim of an ITF vendetta aimed not only at her but all Eastern Europeans.

So where do we go from here? Despite the PR blitz by her and her fans she is still suspended and will have to serve out the remaining months of her now 15 month suspension. Will she be able to go back to using meldonium? If she does it’s my understanding that to do so would subject her to a second doping violation since the drug is still banned by WADA. Will she find a doctor to confirm her need of angina medication in the States and apply for a TUE based on his or her diagnosis of her health? Or will she compete PED free to avoid another ADRV?

There are more questions. Will the WTA fight to get her favorable draws? I think that’s a given. Will the ITF be intimidated by Sharapova’s threat to sue the organization?

There’s no doubt that the WTA still thinks of her as the face of women’s tennis. The fact that the WTA almost immediately issued a statement that basically said “order restored” while it still hasn’t let fans know where women’s tennis will be streamed in 2017? Talk about priorities.

It’s just amazing to me that an athlete, currently under suspension for a doping offense, is being treated like a queen by tennis media. Tennis, and the thousands of clean athletes who play at the pro level, deserve better.

The Verdict – And The Arrogance

by Savannah

These amazing paragraphs appear towards the end of the CAS Report on the appeal by Maria Sharapova of her two year ban due to doping by the ITF.

100. The Panel wishes to emphasize that based on the evidence, the Player did not endeavour to mask or hide her use of Mildronate and was in fact open about it to many in her entourage and based on a doctor’s recommendation, that she took the substance with the good faith belief that it was appropriate and compliant with the relevant rules and her anti-doping obligations, as it was over a long period of her career, and that she was not clearly informed by the relevant anti-doping authorities of the change in the rules. After
its de novo review here, the Panel has determined it does not agree with many of the conclusions of the Tribunal, except as otherwise specifically indicated herein.

1 01. Finally, the Panel wishes to point out that the case it heard, and the award it renders, was not about an athlete who cheated. It was only about the degree of fault that can be imputed to a player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product she had been legally taking over a long period, and for most of the time on the basis of a doctor’s prescription, remained in compliance with the TADP and WADC.
No question of intent to violate the TADP or W ADC was before this Panel: under no circumstances, therefore, can the Player be considered to be an “intentional doper”.

The report is 28 pages long but I think that a reader can get the gist of things just by reading these words.

Let’s break down what is being said here.

The Panel wishes to emphasize that based on the evidence, the Player did not endeavour to mask or hide her use of Mildronate and was in fact open about it to many in her entourage and based on a doctor’s recommendation, that she took the substance with the good faith belief that it was appropriate and compliant with the relevant rules and her anti-doping obligations, as it was over a long period of her career, and that she was not clearly informed by the relevant anti-doping authorities of the change in the rules.

Word for word that sounds like the argument that the ITF rejected as unbelievable. Who are the “many in her entourage” who knew? Her nutritionist? Her coaches? Her doctors based in the United States? WTA medical staff? If anyone read the initial report it was clear that the only person who knew about her doping was her father. Sure her agent has fallen on his sword and taken the weight for not advising his client due to “personal issues” but the ITF panel saw that for the ruse it was and is. I wonder if he does the drug checking for his other clients?

If she felt meldonium was nothing more than aspirin why didn’t she list it on her medical forms? Why not tell your coaches and the medical staff you hired (or used in the case of the WTA staff) that you were taking this drug? Why didn’t you have a doctor in the country where you reside, the United States, assess your physical condition? In the original report it’s clearly stated that she relied on a prescription written in 2006 by a Russian doctor. No medical doctor worth his or her salt would allow an athlete to rely on a prescription that old without doing their own examination and assessment of the athlete. Hell, no competent doctor would allow anyone to self medicate for that long a period of time without the proper medical tests being performed. But here we have the man in charge of this hearing saying that “many” in her entourage knew. It’s a blatant lie.

They stick to the lie by saying that the case was not about an athlete who cheated but about the “degree of fault” that can be ascribed to a player. To quote:

“It was only about the degree of fault that can be imputed to a player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product she had been legally taking over a long period, and for most of the time on the basis of a doctor’s prescription, remained in compliance with the TADP and WADC.”

Stunningly myopic is one way to put it. A blatant lie is what I will call it.

And yet they didn’t exonerate her. Instead they reduced the ban to 15 months. Some were hoping for her to be completely cleared. Some thought she’d should get a year because it “wasn’t her fault”. The hell it wasn’t her fault. Her PR machine created the image of a woman who was hands on in every aspect of her career, a woman who would make sure that unless she was being paid to drink water would remove the tag. A woman who called WADA when she was changing a vitamin regimen. But somehow this “strong woman” turned her most important career choice, what drugs she could legally take, over to her agent who has no medical training whatsoever and who became distracted by personal issues and din’t read the WADA notifications that began in September 2015. Talk about dereliction of duty!

The other amazing thing is that WADA is called out for not making a special effort to reach out to Eastern Europeans who took the stuff like candy. Really? Wouldn’t that be discriminatory? Why should one group get favored treatment over another? That this argument was accepted by the CAS is setting an amazing precedent. Going forward can’t an athlete say that he or she didn’t understand the notices because they weren’t given a special outreach due to some circumstance or another?

I suggest that everyone read both reports.

The ITF should’ve given her the four years they wanted to.

Oh, and what does the woman who benefitted from the mental gymnastics seen in the CAS report? Did she express her gratitude and ask that everyone move forward? No.

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Yeah. I’d call that arrogance.

©Copyright Savannahs World 2016 All Rights Reserved

Is It Incompetence?

by Savannah

Monday, September 26, 2016 the paid subscription site, TennisTV announced that beginning in January 2017 it would no longer carry WTA events explaining that the WTA would be streaming its matches via a different platform. It also provided a Q&A
for users who may want to cancel or amend their subscriptions to the service. It should be noted that earlier in the year TennisTV announced that it would become available on streaming devices – AppleTV, Roku, etc – in January 2017.

There are many fans who prefer one tour over the other and many who prefer the WTA threatened to cancel existing subscriptions or not renew when it became time to do so. There were also a lot of questions about what the new WTA platform would be, what it would be called (WTATV?) and where it will be found.

I remember being upset when what was MastersTV, an ATP only platform, added the WTA to it’s stable and became TennisTV. I’ve gotten used to it though, enjoying the one stop shopping and making it unnecessary to watch dodgy streams where the person controlling the stream might decide he or she wanted to watch something else in the middle of a match causing the viewer to have to scramble and find another one. I didn’t like the geo blocking that became common but looking at the overall picture there were often other options available to watch whatever TennisTV wasn’t showing. Am I upset now? I’d have to say no. Surprised is more like it. I don’t understand why, just when TennisTV is finally expanding to streaming devices, an important move especially in the US market, the WTA would opt out of the service.

I live in the States so I can only talk about the status of women’s tennis in the country I reside in. To say it’s disrespected is an understatement. The top commentators (whether I think they’re the best is another matter) are always reluctant to call women’s matches unless they’ve played women’s tennis and still keep up with it. When someone like John or Patrick McEnroe are forced to call a women’s match the bulk of the commentary ends up being about the ATP tour. They show no shame in not having a clue about what is going on in the women’s tour. During a mixed event like the upcoming Beijing tournament the women get the worst of the scheduling both on court and on television. Even with TennisTV only the top ranked women’s matches would be available during a mixed event. I can understand the frustration of WTA fans about this. I’ve been annoyed about it myself at times. But to pull your already poorly marketed product off of the best streaming platform available, one with a world wide reach, is sheer lunacy in my opinion.

It’s even worse when you realize that millions of people in the States have cut the cord and no longer use television, network or cable, in the traditional sense. Honestly once you have a streaming device there is no need to use broadcast TV in any of it’s iterations. Every network, cable or broadcast, has an APP on these devices and the viewer can pick and choose what they want to watch. Ironically Tennis Channel beat TennisTV to the punch in making it’s content available for streaming. Tennis Channel is a purely US service though. TennisTV has world wide exposure.

I held off writing this column because I figured that the WTA would make its announcement if not yesterday when it should have, then no later then today so that fans would not be left hanging. There’s no doubt that a separate platform will cost money. When you add in production costs, the salaries of on air talent, etc the new service will not be cheap. Some are hoping for day to day or match per match pricing but in the end that is more expensive than buying an annual subscription.

Whatever the WTA decides to do they can’t put off an announcement much longer. To do so says to fans of women’s tennis that WTA officials were either blindsided (I doubt that since a decision like this isn’t taken overnight),that their decision to opt out was made in haste, or that they don’t think the value of their product is equal to that of ATP. If none of that then the only answer left is that they’re incompetent, that they decided to opt out without a definite plan for what the next step would be. I’d hate to think it’s the later.
Fans of women’s tennis deserve better.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and DHEA – A Love Story

by Savannah

TUE-Gate is still going on. So far three top African American females and one lesbian WNBA player’s record releases have gooten the most coverage from the media. That said media obviously doesn’t understand what “out of competition” means or that an opiate (think heroin, morphine, oxy) would give no in competition advantage to anyone their mewlings can be dismissed out of hand.
What is interesting is that the press, with one exception, has ignored a much bigger story. It involves the US tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands and her attempts to get a TUE for her use of male synthetic hormone (testosterone) due to the imminent collapse of her adrenal system (kidneys).

Yesterday on a fan site someone calling themselves “Marlene” released a heavily redacted CAS hearing result on an athlete. We know it was a woman due to the conclusions drawn. We know it was an United States citizen because the doctor involved resides in Arizona. It soon became obvious who the athlete was since the TUE she requested had been made public.

The CAS report is a sobering read on how an athlete can try and game the system and how in the end, the system of checks and balances did work. The report is seventeen pages long so I will excerpt from the conclusions only.

6.15 In her submissions as part of the TUE application process and this proceeding, both Dr.
Serrano and Dr. Larrimer attributed the Appellant’s symptoms to hypopituitarism. Dr.
Serrano, in his August 17, 2014 letter to the 1TF TUEC wrote “{mjy initial opinion was
and still is that of hypopituitarism,” while Dr. Larrimer concluded in his July 25, 2014
letter, “Ida believe she has Hypopituitarism, “1

6.16 The Respondent challenged the accuracy of that diagnosis in its Answer and at the hearing, on a number of grounds, including submitting evidence that:
• Hypopituitarism is a malfunction between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The
relationship between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland plays a critical role in the
secretion of several hormones in the body, including the production of Cortisol through the
adrenal gland. If this relationship was malfunctioning, one would expect that secretion of
all, or at least several, of these hormones would be inhibited. The inhibited productions
would be demonstrable in blood tests. However, in the blood tests collected closest in time
to the Appellant’s doctors’ diagnosis of hypopituitarism, nothing indicates that any of the
hormones that rely on the pituitary gland, other than Cortisol, which as discussed appeared
depleted beginning in 2013, were at all deficient This is inconsistent with hypopituitarism,
• The effect of hypopituitarism would be that the adrenal gland could not function without
lifetime treatment. This is paradoxical to the Appellant’s doctors’ assertions that, under
the proper supervision and circumstances, the Athlete could been weaned off of
hydrocortisone or other Cortisol supplementation.
6.17 At the heaving, Dr. Serrano acknowledged that he was not an expert in endocrinology, but
conceded a number of the criticisms levied by the Respondent. He also seemingly
attempted to backtrack from his own diagnosis of hypopituitarism by suggesting that his diagnosis was based on Dr. Larrimer’s diagnosis of the same. Two troubling aspects of this position are that (i) it is at odds with his contemporaneous submission in which he
stated that his initial opinion, presumably dating back to 2012, was that the Appellant
suffered from hypopituitarism, and (ii) despite apparent rehance Dr. Larrimer’s diagnosis, he was Unable to offer any insight into how Dr. Larrimer came to his conclusion.3
6.18 Accordingly, there is serious doubt that hypopituitarism could be the proper diagnosis of the Appellant’s adrenal insufficiency, regardless of when said deficiency manifested itself, meaning that the Appellant has likely still not yet been properly diagnosed.4

C. DHEA and Symptoms

6.19 Finally, one matter that raises doubts about the appropriateness of DHEA specifically as a treatment for the Appellant, that has yet to be adequately explained by the Appellant or her expert, is the juxtaposition of the timing of the manifestation of her symptoms, her DHEA use, and her objective blood and salivary tests.

6.20 By her own account,^ B symptoms began in 2010 and continued on and
off for 2 years before she saw Dr. Serrano and before she was a granted the HC TUE in December 2012.

6.21 But as discussed above, the blood and salivary tests from September and November 2012, the period of time before the Appellant began taking HC, unequivocally show that the Appellant’s Cortisol and DHEA levels were within, or above, the reference range for her demographic. In other words, during one of the periods when the Appellant’s impairments were at their worst, her Cortisol and DHEA levels were not depleted, Without questioning the Appellant’s veracity in stating that she felt better while talcing DHEA, it is difficult then to reconcile the objective evidence with her doctors’ recommendations that simply increasing her DHEA levels back to normal level today should cure her symptoms (notwithstanding any other potentially beneficial medical reasons to do so).
6.22 Considering all of these points, the Sole Arbitrator must conclude that the lack of a clear diagnosis of an existing medical condition is fatal to the Appellant’s appeal.

6.23 Because the failure to adequately identify a medical condition in itself precludes the granting of a TUE, there is no need to address the remaining standards at this time. But nothing in this opinion should be interpreted to suggest that, should the Appellant undergo further examination and receive a verifiable diagnosis – which the Sole Arbitrator strongly
advises her to do – any treatment options are precluded, as the Appellant’s health is obviously of Critical importance.
6.24 In this connection, the Parties agreed that an abrupt termination of the Appellant’s HC treatment could adversely affect her health. As a result, she must be given some time to reduce her current intake of HC and replace it by a treatment that addresses her properly diagnosed indication, subject to the cumulative conditions for granting a TUE set forth in Article 4.1(a)-(d) of the International Standard. The Sole Arbitrator considers that the
Appellant would have sufficient time to achieve this by April 30.2015.
6.25 The Appellant must therefore be authorized to continue to take HC, at levels no higher than permitted in the Appealed Decision until the Appellant is granted a new TUE by the ITF TUEC, based on a proper medical diagnosis but in any event no later than April 30. 2015. For the avoidance of doubt, the Appealed Decision’s revocation of the DHEA TUE is confirmed.

If that is too much for you here’s my summary:

The unnamed athlete went to her governing body, the ITF, and presented documentation that showed she had serious adrenal issues and that she needed hydrocortisone to stop the deterioration of her physical condition. The athlete and her doctor then said that the HC was not sufficient and he recommended adding DHEA to her course of treatment. The ITF approved the diagnosis and proposed treatment and routinely sent the information to WADA where cooler heads prevailed and the addition of DHEA was denied. Further investigation showed that the original doctors statements were contradictory and the conclusion was reached that the athlete had still not received a proper diagnosis of what the root cause of her stated symptoms were. The CAS also asked for the athlete to pay for all costs associated with her appeal.

There were whispers about who the athlete was (don’t forget this report is from 2015) but no one seemed interested in pursuing the publicly available, non-redacted report until now.

You can like or dislike a journalist but when he/she is doing a public service you have to give him or her credit for what they’ve done.

In his report for the New York Times Ben Rothenberg not only named the athlete, <strong> Bethanie Mattek-Sands </strong> but revealed some information about her doctor. No one has challenged his report. Instead there’s been deafening silence from the ITF, the USTA and the WTA. Despite her TUE being denied Mattek-Sands played for over a year using DHEA, “an endogenous steroid hormone.” WebMD says the following “it functions as a precursor to male and female sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.”

Meanwhile the campaign to try and discredit the four women who were first outted by the hack continues unabated.

Tennis fans need answers. How could the ITF grant exemptions in this situation when the medical reports didn’t jibe with any known medical results. It’s very clear. If “A” is happening then so should “B, C or D”. If B, C or D isn’t happening then how can “A” be happening? It’s not rocket science.

Secondly how the hell wasn’t this made public and Mattek-Sands not receive some kind of discipline from her Federation (The USTA) or the WTA tour where she remains a top doubles player. If she was penalized in any way by either organization they’ve been very quiet about it. It’s situations like this that allow internet trolls to push meme’s saying the entire system is rotten in order to make one player’s situation appear normal and not out of the ordinary.

So what about it USTA? What about it ITF? What about it WTA? Are you all running around a room screaming and pulling your hair out by the roots? This report is over a year old and to this fan nothing whatsoever has been done to Ms Mattek-Sands. I wonder if the same “hands off let’s pretend it didn’t happen “attitude would have prevailed if some other athletes had done the same thing.

So far this is the only report that shows how an athlete tried to game the system. That the system worked in the end is small consolation.

©2016 Savannahs World Tennis all rights reserved

 

Why Now?

by Savannah

It’s ironic that three of the athletes who had their personal medical information leaked today were women of color and the one woman who wasn’t a woman of color is a lesbian. Make of that what you will.

Here is the WADA statement.

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Ironically the information released shows all four women: Simone Biles , Serena Williams , Venus Williams and Elena Delle Donne followed the rules and notified anti doping agencies of their prescribed use of substances on the banned list, mostly out of competition. Biles was and is being treated for ADHD and has a TUE (thereputic use exemption). No rules were broken. None of them are guilty of anti doping offenses committed during the recently completed Olympic Games in Rio.

If anything this shows that top competitors follow the rules and perform at the top of their abilities.

I don’t understand why this information has been leaked now.

© 2016 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

The Rear View Mirror: The 2016 US Open

by Savannah

us-open
via http://www.sportslivenews.com/

 

2016 Champions
Men’s Singles
Switzerland Stan Wawrinka
Women’s Singles
Germany Angelique Kerber
Men’s Doubles
Brazil Bruno Soares / United Kingdom Jamie Murray
Women’s Doubles
United States Bethanie Mattek-Sands / Czech Republic Lucie Šafářová
Mixed Doubles
Germany Laura Siegemund / Croatia Mate Pavić
Boys’ Singles
Canada Félix Auger-Aliassime
Girls’ Singles
United States Kayla Day
Boys’ Doubles
Bolivia Juan Carlos Aguilar / Brazil Felipe Meligeni Alves
Girls’ Doubles
United States Jada Hart / United States Ena Shibahara
Men’s Champions Invitational
Australia Pat Cash / Australia Mark Philippoussis
Women’s Champions Invitational
United States Lindsay Davenport / United States Mary Joe Fernández

Some thoughts:

Not one main tour US singles player made it to the Finals. Serena Williams made it to the semi finals and was barely able to move in that match. Steve Johnson , the man who said former champion Juan Martin del Potro shouldn’t get a Wild Card over what I assume he felt would be a more deserving US player didn’t survive his match vs del Potro. US Wildcards? Pfft. Gone. If you blinked you missed seeing them crash and burn. New US men’s #1 Jack Sock ? he was exposed as being nothing more than a forehand. He was almost the least fit man I saw play.

Despite all of the US juniors getting so much hype in the press it was Canada’s Félix Auger-Aliassime who took home the boy’s trophy. Kayla Day of the US who doesn’t look a day over twelve, was the only singles player to win a title.

The stadium for the Women’s Final was reported to be about 85% full. Tickets prices for the women’s final fell through the floor going for about $31 each. If there’s a compelling match fans usually storm the gates and grab up any available ticket. That didn’t happen. It’s widely reported that the men’s final was a sell out.

Does that mean the men’s tour is stronger? Let’s look at how the two finalists got there. The ATP #1 spent less than 10 hours on court.

Novak Djokovic

1st rd: bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
2nd rd: bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) walkover
3rd rd: bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 4-2 retired
4th rd: bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
QF: bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x9) 6-3, 6-2 retired
SF: bt Gael Monfils (FRA x10) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2

Stan Wawrinka

1st rd: bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-4
2nd rd: bt Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
3rd rd: bt Dan Evans (GBR) 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (10/8), 6-2
4th rd: bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
QF: bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
SF: bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x6) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2

There was a lot of talk about the cake walk Djokovic had in Paris. This draw made that one look competitive and he still only played two full matches. In my opinion he didn’t deserve to win and fortunately he didn’t. I’m not a great fan of Wawrinka but at least he had to play tennis to reach the final. Apologists are saying it wasn’t Djokovic’s fault he played a total of four matches including the semi final and final. If any other player, with one exception, had that happen there would be question marks and asterisks next to his name if he had somehow managed to win.

As for the women the Final proved that there is only one draw in women’s tennis and that is Serena Williams. Some want to sneak Maria Sharapova‘s name in there but to be honest that is just not true. Tennis media loves her and she does have stans but when it comes to putting butts in the seats outside of semi finals and finals where people have bought tickets so they can say they were there I’ve never seen a stadium packed to overflowing just to see her. Tennis media of course buys into the hype around her because they need access. Fans don’t have to suck up.

It’s hardly been mentioned that Angelique Kerber played her way into the number one spot. Once again when discussing the WTA we’re talking more about ranking than proficiency. Keep in mind how Kerber was dismantled in the Olympic Final by Monica Puig and how she did almost nothing coming into the US Open. The best that can be said is that she’s not a Slamless number one.

Her opponent, Karolina Pliskova will always be able to say she beat Serena in the semi final of a major. The part about Serena being injured will always be left to fans to point out just like it was with Sloane Stephens who still thinks she’s a super star. Pliskova is one of the worst movers in tennis. It’ll be interesting to see how she does in 2017.

Overall I think tennis came out of the US Open in a holding pattern. The Asian swing will feature heavily in who does and doesn’t make the year end finals of both tours. Will players enter events they normally wouldn’t so that they can stumble into the finals of their respective tours? We’re already seeing some changes in where top players will begin play in 2017. Does anyone think Kerber, without a lot of assistance from her draws will hold on to the top spot especially if she cuts back on the amount of tennis she plays? Will the ATP top player continue to deserve his nickanme of “Fakervic” especially after yesterday’s shenanigans? Will some continue to make excuses for him?

It’s a shame most of the play in Asia will go unwatched by the majority of tennis fans in the West due to the time difference. There should be some exciting results with so much at stake.

© SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved except where indicated

The WTA Has It’s Work Cut Out For It

by Savannah

No One Wants to See the U.S. Open Women’s Final Without Serena

 

The above piece, by Eben Novy-Williams at Bloomberg greeted tennis fans and fanatics late Friday evening, early Saturday morning as ticket prices for the women’s US Open Final once again fell precipitously below three figures for the second year in a row. There was immediate outcry of course with German tennis fans jumping in to say they’d most definitely be watching and some hard core fans on this side of the Atlantic Ocean saying they’d be watching too. And that is, sadly, the point.

When told new #1 Angelique Kerber will play Karolina Pliskova many will reply “Who?” after giving the proverbial blank stare. And for that the WTA, followed closely by the USTA is to blame. Don’t forget it’s Nike that has done the lion’s share of promoting Serena. Not her Federation that seems to do all it can to make sure she fails, and not the WTA that ignores her unless it absolutely has no choice. People can bitch and moan about the Bloomberg piece but he is saying out loud what everyone in sports knows: there is no women’s tennis without Serena Williams . Yes the sport will go on and there will be new top players but who will care? If the WTA promoted women’s tennis as a sport and not as a “look” women’s tennis wouldn’t be in the position it is. People would want to see the two women who will play this afternoon. People would care.

Lost in the story of cheap tickets is the fact that there were so many tickets still available. Fans dumping previously purchased tickets or never sold before tickets?

Serena Williams is 34 years old. Her body is not going to do what she wants it to do without a lot of rest and pampering. Everyone in her box was wearing a concerned look during the semi final but that isn’t newsworthy. And her coach doing his job and becoming a lightening rod for criticism is vilified.

We all knew this day was coming. It’s so sad that once again unless there’s a miracle women’s tennis will fall back into the shadow of men’s tennis.

It didn’t have to be this way.