Tag Archives: Maria Sharapova

WIMBLEDON WEEK: Quick Last-Second Hits. Can Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams Both Repeat?

Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final

A bunch of quick-hit thoughts on certain players going into Wimbledon:

Serena Williams: This might not even be that hard. Better beat her early, before she gets momentum. Only concern: When she has trouble catching her breath, will she be able to keep her mind off the blood clots? Prediction: Winner.

Rafael Nadal: This “clay court specialist’’ hasn’t lost a match at Wimbledon since 2007. Won’t this year, either.

Andy Roddick: Conflicting thoughts. Done winning majors; that’s an awfully nice draw. Last chance? (I’ve probably said that about him before).

Venus Williams: Didn’t look that great at Eastbourne. Kind of off-balance. Still good enough to make a deep run, though.

Roger Federer: The big-bashers who were pushing him backward aren’t doing well. He might have figured out Novak Djokovic. If Nadal loses before the final, this tournament could be his. If not, it’s not.

Caroline Wozniacki: Prove it already. Quarterfinals against Sharapova, good place to start. Prediction: Sharapova.

John Isner-Nicolas Mahut: Straight sets for Isner. But stop picking him as a darkhorse. If you can’t return serve, you can’t win Wimbledon.

Andy Murray: Tabloid fodder. Continue reading

FRENCH OPEN: Maria Sharapova Double-Faults away her Chance Again, Loses to Li Na. Will She and her Serve ever Come Back?

Maria Sharapova loses in the French semis

It was match point against Maria Sharapova, and everyone knew what was going to happen. The service box is 21 feet deep, 13½ feet across, and there was no way she was going to get her serve over the net and into that big box. It must look like a postage stamp to her. After the first serve was out, Li Na could have walked off the court, shaken the chair umpire’s hand and sat down.

There was no way Sharapova would get that second serve in.

“She had a huge, big serve,’’ Li said. “So I was like, `Please double fault.’  ’’

It happened, of course. Sharapova tried to put a little spin on the serve to control the ball, but she can’t do that. Instead, her arm slowed. . .way. . .down. . .mid-swing, and the ball went into the net. Li won 6-4, 7-5 Thursday to become the first Chinese woman to reach the French Open final. She’ll play defending champ Francesca Schiavone Saturday.

Sharapova hasn’t reached the final in her past 11 majors, since winning the 2008 Australian Open. She beat Ana Ivanovic that day, and women’s tennis had to be in heaven with a future looking bright and highly marketable. Since then, Sharapova and Ivanovic have totaled zero major finals, but countless swimsuit fashion shoots.

But this isn’t to rip into Sharapova.

In fact, it’s the opposite. Continue reading

Tennis’ No. 1 Pet Peeve: Grunting

Grunting has become the No. 1 pet peeve in tennis. The ringing in my ears has finally stopped from Victoria Azarenka’s win over Maria Sharapova last week, but that match still has fans riled up.

Their grunting was sort of a tag-team thing, with one starting up at the exact moment the other stopped. And they were both outrageously loud.

What can be done? What should be done? Continue reading

Maria Sharapova, Chernobyl Survivor, Feels Personal Connection to Japan Crisis

Sharapova visits kids in Russia (photo from Daily Telegraph)

At some point, Maria Sharapova just wanted to know more. She had heard the horror stories from her parents, about the escape they made from the radiation that had leaked during the world’s worst nuclear disaster. When they fled, Sharapova was in her mother’s womb.

Maria Sharapova is a Chernobyl survivor.

And as she grew up, she started to study it, read about it, take it into her soul. Since then, she has donated time, made visits and given hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the children and grandchildren of the nightmare that reportedly released 100 times more radiation than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

So, with a personal sense, she has been following Japan’s nuclear crisis, which resulted from a massive earthquake and tsunami. Radiation has leaked into the air again.

“Crazy, right?’’ she said at a post-match press conference this week at the tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. She was wearing a t-shirt commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident.

“Can you believe one disaster 25 years ago, and now another? I heard there’s a big cloud coming towards the West Coast.’’

Someone told her it is expected to dissipate.

“So the tournament goes on. . .’’ She said, and laughed. “In terms of what’s going on over there, it’s crazy and something that you can’t even prepare for.

“It happens, and you see the coverage on it and the videos, and it’s really incredible that something like that can even happen in the world.’’

Oftentimes, Sharapova comes across as aloof, terse. (Also, as a supermodel/Barbie Doll who wins Wimbledon.) But maybe that’s because of her serious nature, her determination. Even when she’s talking about tragedy, it can be nice to see her come off so human and connected.

In Japan, multiple nuclear reactors are overheating, leading to dangerous spikes in radiation levels. According to the New York Times, Japan’s health ministry has raised the legal limit, by more than double, that rescue workers at a nuclear plant are allowed to be exposed to. The ministry said the move is unavoidable due to circumstances.

The new limit is five times the level American workers are allowed to be exposed to.

The Times also quoted Douglas Almond, a Columbia University professor who has studied the effects of the Chernobyl disaster, saying he doesn’t think the Japanese government is doing enough to warn pregnant women of the dangers. He believes the danger goes much farther from the nuclear plants than people have been led to believe.

“The fetus may be particularly sensitive to low doses of ionizing radiation, a susceptibility that current public health responses in Japan seem to have overlooked,’’ he said. “Evidence comes from a recent study of Chernobyl fallout in Sweden, which experience comparatively low doses from the accident; indeed radiation levels in Sweden were believed safe at the time. . .

“Swedish students who were in utero during the accident experienced significantly lower cognitive function. . .’’

Ghosts of Chernobyl

At Chernobyl, a reactor exploded in April of 1986 after a safety test. Sharapova’s parents lived roughly 80 miles away. They stayed for four months while others left. But then Sharapova’s mother, Yelena, became pregnant. In fear of what might happen to the baby, they left to be near relatives in Siberia.

“I remember my mom and my dad telling me that it was really chaos,’’ Sharapova told ESPN last year, when the network went with her on a trip back to Russia to visit children in the area. “Everyone just wanted to leave, and they were leaving everything in their house, their valuables and their photographs and memorabilia. And the only thing they would take was their passport.’’

Two years after moving to Siberia, her family moved again. Maria ended up in a tennis camp that Martina Navratilova happened to visit. That’s how Sharapova was discovered. Next thing you knew, she was in the U.S., learning tennis at the Bollettieri Academy.

She seems to be an All-American girl, but has taken her Russian heritage, which involved hardship for her parents, to heart. She has become a goodwill ambassador for a United Nations program.

“In the beginning, my job was raising awareness to the world, really, and basically getting the message across that even though something like that happened such a long time ago, it still causes many people on a daily basis (health risks),’’ she said. “Especially kids that were born (then), and now are having kids. You also find that they have something in their body that’s not allowing them to live a normal life from the pollution.’’ Continue reading