Don’t let a friendly moment between rivals fool you
(published June 24, 2012) Tennis cannot get The Match on the court. It never plays out. It’s funny, too, because tennis has been thriving on rivalries. Fans know that history will be made at Wimbledon, which starts tomorrow, because it happens every major. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the best individual rivalry in sports, and when that one slipped a little, poof, Nadal and Novak Djokovic became the best.
It was seamless. They are always playing for some record, reaching some new height. It’s in such contrast to the women’s game, which has the best rivalry in sports that never happens.
Can we finally get Serena Williams to play Maria Sharapova in a Wimbledon final? They are still the marquee women’s rivalry, complete with tension between players and fan bases, different looks, different styles.
“Tennis is more interesting when you do have rivalries, and you do have contrasting players and you do have different sets of fans for different players,’’ Chris Evert said this week on an ESPN media conference call. Evert has a little experience with game-defining rivalries: Evert-Martina Navratilova.
Williams-Sharapova looked like the start of a big thing back in 2004, when Sharapova, the teenager, crushed Williams in the Wimbledon final. Eight years later, they have played each other just. . .
Eight more times. And women’s tennis has been more like men’s golf than men’s tennis, with a different winner in every major.
Some guy named Webb won the U.S. Open in golf. Do you remember who won the Masters? Bubba. Nine majors, nine different winners.
Please read the rest of my column at The Daily