Archive for October, 2009
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
I’ll be the first to admit that at times, I have been a little harsh on Serena Williams. Her antics are sometimes a little too much for me to handle, and her prior commitment to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour has been questionable. But make no mistake about it, Serena is the best women’s tennis player on the planet, and after her second-round victory in Beijing on Tuesday, she reclaimed the No. 1 ranking from Russian Dinara Safina, whose mental instability cost her the spot on the throne.
There’s no question that the profanity-laced tirade at Flushing Meadows left a very sour taste in my mouth regarding the younger of the Williams sisters. The ITF is still debating if further sanctions will be placed on Serena. However nobody can question the dominance that she has enjoyed on court over the past year, and now, the rankings indicate such.
It’s quite a sad tale, that of young Dinara Safina. The former World No. 1 could not handle the pressure that comes with holding the title, and even worse than her older brother, Marat, broke down at the worst times (like consecutive losses to Chinese wildcards ranked miles below Safina). Serena’s dominance, combined with Safina’s struggle, made for easy math in the computer rankings.
What I’m more curious about now is how Serena will use her new No. 1 title. While not entirely new, it will mark the fourth time in Serena’s career that she will be World No.1 and 73rd week overall, having held the top ranking for 57 weeks from July 8, 2002 to August 10, 2003; 4 weeks from September 8, 2008 to October 6, 2008; and 11 weeks from February 2 to April 19, 2009. She is the most recognizable name in women’s tennis today, not named Sharapova (who has climbed to Top 20 after a horrible shoulder injury). So the question from me is, how will Serena respond to being No. 1 and conversely, how will Safina respond to not being No. 1.
I was fortunate to be part of the broadcast crew that called the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal during the summer of 2008, just before we headed to Beijing. Safina displayed one of the most impressive summer seasons on record and then captured the silver medal at the Olympics. Her psyche has gone through Armageddon since that August and it will take a Yeoman’s effort to climb out of this funk. Fans and the game deserve Safina at her best.
So when we check the Tour rankings on Monday, we will see a familiar name reclaim the crown she argued was hers all along. After showing consistent dominance, the computer finally agrees.