Google Down the Line!: Working the system Williams-style

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Working the system Williams-style

The suspense was unbearable! But, in the end, she did the unthinkable: Serena Williams called it a season today ending any hopes of her participation at the WTA Championships in Doha or the Fed Cup final versus Italy taking place in San Diego. The 13-time Grand Slammer "re-tore" the tendon in her right foot during practice and underwent another "procedure" to repair it. See? Only fashion shows, parties and trips to the beach for ReRe from now on!

I mean, like me, you must've been at the sitting at the edge of your couch in anticipation of this news after she announced she re-injured the foot and pulled out of Linz. But seriously, even if she were completely healthy she nor her sister, Venus, are ever a lock to play Fed Cup or at any point during the fall season. This news is hardly a surprise to hardcore tennis fans.

But will ReRe's withdrawal from the FC final, which takes place November 6 - 7, hurt her chances to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London? Well, according to Olympic rules a lady baller need only make herself available to play in two calendar years of the four leading up to the next Olympics to qualify for the team. Talk about being vague. So, was her cry of "I wanna play the final!" before pulling out with injury enough to count as "being available?" Perhaps. She must, according to this article by tennis scribe Paula Vergara, be present on-site for the tie in order to fulfill her commitment for this year. She would then need to be available next year or in 2012 to make the team that same year. For what it's worth, Venus Williams is in the same boat. 

Coach Mary Jo Fernandez knows that even in 2012 the Sisters Sledge will be the team's best chance at climbing the podium. It will be on grass and they have been so dominant on the surface collecting a combined 8 singles titles, 4 doubles titles and 1 mixed at Wimbledon.

I honestly can't think of any scenario where the Sisters Sledge won't make the Olympic team in London unless they completely opt out of all upcoming Fed Cup ties (which is not happening) or either one is severely injured. In the end, all parties involved need to make sure they've been or at least look like they've been "available."

Something tells me me we may be seeing them limping around San Diego. But, screw playing. Leave that to the kids.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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  1. So Rich, are you saying that they are not legitimately injured? I seriously think Serena would have played the Fed Cup tie, if but for the injury? I am quite sure that the fact that she is bleeding points going into Doha and will be in the mid-ranking range going into the AO will weigh heavily on her mind.

    Those who felt that the Sisters did not deserve to be on the Fed Cup team for the final got their wish. I think it is time the USA, USTA and the American players who have been getting a free ride all these years step up to the plate and bring glory to the Red, White and Blue. What should be of concern to most US tennis fans is that the Williams era is ending and there does not seem to be anyone on the horizon able to take up that mantle.

    Will the USTA start offering American citizenship to overseas players if only to have contenders on the list?

  2. Don't get me wrong. I believe they have injuries but they don't do themselves any favors by being vague about them or brushing off questions when asked. Plus, we've seen them both play with injury and win MAJORS, not just smaller tourneys.

    ReRe, by her own admission, never sweats the rankings or points. Again, she's come from the abyss to win majors so she won't be worried about her ranking coming into Oz. If she's not residing in the WTA Penthouse she probably won't know what her ranking is.

    I'm all for the Sisters Sledge playing the FC final, the Olympics and everything else because they'll most likely win but they pick and choose what they want to play based on their personal preference and not for the 'team', tour or anything else. They've always gone about their careers this way and it's probably the reason they've been successful for so long. But that's what I mean - they play by the own rules but within the rules.

  3. I just don't get why they have to tell everyone exactly what is wrong with them? The main thing is that they have told the WTA and all the governing bodies involved. And they have, so they owe us nothing.

    And yeah, we've seen them play Majors with injuries... when they were much younger. 90% of the time it has only made things worse. Look at Venus! This knee injury began all the way back aaround Wimbledon 2009. She played through the whole US hardcourt season and fall with it back then, and it has effectively wrecked her 2010 season. They're 29 and 30 now, taking risks like that could effectively end their careers.

    And then look at all the other players this year. Wozniacki, Azarenka, Jankovic, the list is endless. All have at some point played for long peroids while clearly still injured. From where I'm standing, the Williams Sisters are have done the right thing.

    And then there's the whole partying thing. Maria did it when she had the shoulder injury. I really don't get what's wrong with it. It's either that or moping around at home, eating ice cream and getting fat. She did that already in 2006 when she was suffering depression.

    And as for the Linz thing. All I've heard non-stop is it was "expected". Considering she took a late WC into the tournament, agreed details with the Linz organizers, booked a flight and then withdrew after her last practice session before she left for Linz, that's a whole lot of lying you're accusing her of.

  4. Rich, thanks for the response, even though I really do not agree with it. It seems to me that there is always this lingering doubt as to whether the Sisters are really injured or not. I agree that they do themselves a disservice when they play events that mean more to them,i.e. the majors even when they are carrying injuries, but I have also seen them play other low level tournaments when they are carrying injuries but this does not seem to carry over in the narrative that is being written about these 2 women.

    I have seen Venus play Fed Cup, all 3 ties right after winning Wimbledon, not once, but on 2 occassions. There is a case to be made for Serena and when she chooses to play and on that one I will not offer a defence, but I strong believe that if healthy, they would have actually played Fed Cup this time around, if only to add to the legacy that they are writing, especially Serena, who has never actually played on a winning Fed Cup team before.

    It does not however help the cause when team mates call them out in public for their lack of patriotism in not playing Fed Cup. That for me would make any right thinking person question whether they want to be a part of a team that clearly does not want them there.

    I think this present Fed Cup squad would rather go down in defeat than actually have one of the Williams Sisters there at any time to at least guarantee a win.


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