Wimbledon Preview – WTA Edition

Let’s Transition!

Are the few weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon really a transition period? Transitions should be a longer process, but in tennis things move quickly. After the long, demanding clay court season, suddenly this old fashioned surface with few success stories pops up and takes over and before we know it, it’s over.

And although the big story on the men’s side is whether Rafael Nadal can start transitioning Roger Federer into retirement and himself into the best ever debate, the WTA this year is going Renee Richards on us and transitioning all over the place.

This year we’ve already transitioned out Russian dominance talk and replaced it with a potential Chinese takeover. Justine Henin left the tour but then Maria Sharapova suddenly started playing better.  And now we have Serena and Venus Williams back on tour.

Kim who?

It’s great having the sisters back on tour again. Even if neither play another event this year, I am grateful for at least a few days without the following stories making headlines:

Li Na’s credit card receipts and jabs at her husband.

Wacky Wozniacki’s stand up routines in press conferences. What’chu talkin’ about, Caroline? Is it just me, or is her humor becoming a bit cringe worthy and predictable?  I guess her humor has about as much variety as her game.

Any fashion stories that include Bethanie Mattek Sands – or any tennis player.

You never should have worn the hat!

Watching the transformation of Ana Ivanovic from tennis champ to either a Miss Universe contestant or a co-host on E!

Any Mirjana Lucic or Jelena Dokic comeback stories.

Of course we’re going to hear the same stories we’ve always heard about Venus and Serena. Martina Navratilova once again went out on a limb when discussing the sisters. “The Williams sisters, it’s such an unknown. They could be in the final or they could go out in the second round because they haven’t played.”

Chris Evert also took a risk. “It would be monumental in my mind if Serena pulled off a win. You can never, ever count her out.

The bigger question is whether Serena and Venus will finally get some serious support from the fans this year.

After all, this is the time in a veteran’s career when they finally get to hear the support they had when they were younger and just starting out. In Mexico last year, Venus came back from 1-5 in the third set during her quarterfinal match to win 7-5 and then made what I think was the most poignant interview of her career when she acknowledged the crowd’s support. “I really have never had that kind of crowd support ever in my life…never anywhere. If I never experience that again, I can remember today,” she said.

And when Serena finished her first round comeback last week in Eastbourne and then said to the crowd, “Give me a little cheer because I really need it!” it just seemed so un-Williams like.

Navratilova had to cry on court to get some love. Steffi Graf had to breakdown when her father went to prison to get her support. And we all know what happened to Monica Seles. One way or another, champions have to let their guard down a little bit to let the crowds know they’re human. Even at their most vulnerable, Venus and Serena haven’t seemed… vulnerable. Just ask Federer who has shown his soft side and probably has unconditional love from the fans until he decides to quit. I’d love to see Venus and Serena a little less HSN and a little more human.

Onto the draw!

1st Quarter

What will everyone be talking about? Wozniacki’s slamless resume, her number one ranking and Maria Sharapova.

What should we be talking about? Pretty much the same thing. Nice that Wozniacki finally decided to rest a week before a slam but somehow I don’t think overplaying has been her problem at the big events. She just hasn’t shown up when it has mattered. Also, why skip the grass court tune-ups? It’s really the one slam where playing a bit more before really can’t hurt.

Who will win this quarter? It’s put up or shut up for Caroline (until the US Open), Sam Stosur and Maria so let’s go for the one most difficult to shut up: Maria.

Who should we be watching? Someone from the Czech Republic. They’re all over this quarter.

2nd Quarter

What will everyone be talking about? Serena Williams

What should we be talking about? Out of the slam losers this year, who has it better, Melanie Oudin or Ana Ivanovic? They are both 0-2 this year and play each other in the first round. Someone’s getting a victory!

Who will win this quarter? It won’t be easy for Serena! She has a couple of nags in her quarter: Agnieszka Radwanska and Marion Bartoli. But she would have to be really off to lose to one of them.

Who should we be watching? I’d like to believe Tamarine Tanasugarn and Eleni Daniilidou could do well but I’m ready for someone young and hungry to make a move. Why not Sabine Lisicki?

3rd Quarter

What will everyone be talking about? Bleh. Nothing to talk about in this quarter.

What should we be talking about? Why is everyone in this quarter either stiff or mentally unstable?

Who will win this quarter? They’ve all tricked us before so it could be Daniela Hantuchova, grass hater Petkovic, unpredictable-lefty-with-grass-court-creds Ekaterina Makarova or ms. baby whiney pants Victoria Azarenka. Or, someone else. I don’t care.

Who should we be watching? Collapsing and choking players.

4th Quarter

What will everyone be talking about? Venus Williams. And, can Vera Zvonareva stop acting so much like Elena Dementieva and win something, God Damnit!

What should we be talking about? Why is Venus ranked 23?? I mean, if you’re going to change the rankings, put both sisters in the top 4. Is there anyone out there who thinks Yanina Wickmayer, Petkovic, Shahar Peer, Ivanovic, Flavia Pennetta, etc. should be higher than Venus?

Who will win this quarter? I like Petra Kvitova but I think she looks at the draw and starts thinking ahead. Until Eastbourne, she had played flawless tennis in finals this year but she’s really up and down with a lot to defend. Still, she has an extremely sweet draw filled with young Americans, old Italians, headcases and Brits of all ages – no reason she shouldn’t make the quarters at least.

Who should we be watching? Tsvetana Pironkova and Jelena Jankovic. Both have beaten Venus at Wimbledon.

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