judy murray

Andy Murray, Marion Bartoli and Others Shine at Wimbledon Champions Ball 2013

(July 7, 2013)History has been made, and the winners of this year’s Wimbledon Championships attended the prestigious Champions Ball at the Intercontinental Park Lane Hotel in London on Sunday evening.

The women's and men's singles winners take a photo togetherThe stunning surprise of the evening was the elegantly beautiful women’s singles winner, Marion Bartoli. Earlier in the day, she promised to don “extremely high heels” and “a short green dress” to the Ball and we weren’t disappointed. She showed up in skyhigh 6 inch Christian Louboutin Daf Booty suede platform boots  (which go for a fierce $1,395), and the French women looked every bit the part of a confident and happy champion.

Marion Bartoli Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013The men’s singles winner and already a member of the All England Club, Andy Murray looked charming in a black tuxedo and radiant smile. He brought along his mum and dad, Judy and Will, girlfriend Kim Sears, as well as his good friend Dani Vallverdu and coach Ivan Lendl.

Andy Murray Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013 9 Andy Murray Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013 5 Andy Murray Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013 4 Andy Murray and Kim Sears Judy and Andy Murray Judy, Andy and Will Murray Ivan Lendl, Andy Murray, Dani Vallverdu Wimbledon Champions Ball 2013Bob and Mike Bryan, who on Saturday captured the Gentlemen’s Doubles title, looked dapper in twin suits and bow ties.

Bryan Brothers Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013The Ladies’ Doubles winners, Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei and Shuai Peng of China, also looked elegant in their sheer and silk sleeveless dresses.

Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013The Girl’s and Boy’s singles winners, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy also attended, and rubbed shoulders with the sport’s elite.

Gianluigi Quinzi and Belinda Bencic Champions Ball Wimbledon 2013Hope the celebrations continue for days!

(All dresses supplied by Having A Ball, who have dressed the Wimbledon champions for years.)

I Love the WTA

Maria Sharapova giggled and jumped in the snow with her Russian compatriots. Forty-one year old Kimoko Date Krumm upset Polona Hercog, ranked 42 spots above her and born 21 years after her.  Serena Williams destroyed a racket. Christina McHale served a bagel. Julia Goerges nearly upset Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova, but fell just short and broke down in tears on court. The upstart and adorable British team, led by new coach Judy Murray, stormed (and tweeted) their way through their competition.  Francesca Schiavone (over)-dramatically won a match.

It was a predictably unpredictable Fed Cup weekend, what many would describe as “typical” WTA, and I loved every single minute of it.

It’s been a tumultuous few years for the most popular female sports league in the world.  In 2007 the tour seemed invincible when Wimbledon became the final Grand Slam to offer the women equal pay.  However,  an unfortunate series of events have left the tour in flux ever since.  In 2008 World #1 Justine Henin abrubtly retired, leaving a vacuum at the top of the game.  With various injuries crippling The Williams Sisters and Sharapova, a group of talented young girls were thrust into the spotlight at the top of the game a bit prematurely.  The “Slamless Number One” saga overshadowed everything else, only rivaled in media coverage by the incessant shrieking debate (which often reaked of sexism).  Some of the best female athletes on the planet were constantly declared out of shape and mentally weak by the experts of the game, many of whom were former WTA stars themselves. To make matters worst, all of this turmoil transpired simultaneously with the “Golden Era” of the ATP.  The more Federer, Nadal, and recently Djokovic dominated the Slams the more it seemed to diminish whatever “product” the WTA tried to produce.

As a WTA fan it’s been a sad few years. Wait- no, I actually don’t mean that at all. It’s been a rollercoaster for sure, but it’s been a blast.

I love parity, I love unpredictability, I love my sports to come with a side of “WTF is going on here?”. I love the fact that every Grand Slam you could pick fifteen women who have a legitimate shot to hold the trophy at the end of two weeks. I love the fact that Schiavone, Li Na, and Samantha Stosur are now Grand Slam Champions. I love that Vera Zvonareva, despite a history of meltdowns that would have made her eligible for the Real Housewives of Russia, made two Grand Slam Finals and climbed to number 2 in the world.  I love that Kim Clijsters retired, had a baby, then came back to the tour and won three more Grand Slams- 3 times more than she had pre-motherhood.  I love that Sharapova has fought her back from what many feared would be a career-ending shoulder injury and now, at 24, seems poised to be a factor for years to come. I love that Serena went from hospital bed to U.S. Open Final in less than six months.  I love that Andrea Petkovic dances in victory. I love that the outspoken Agnieszka Radwanska seems to only win when she’s taped up like a mummy.  I love Petra Kvitova’s forehand, Victoria Azarenka’s backhand, Marion Bartoli’s insane serve, and yes- even Caroline Wozniacki’s moonball. (Sometimes).

I love that the best days are yet to come.  Champions and superstars Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are sill hungry and fighting for titles. Azarenka and Kvitova, twenty-two and twenty-one respectively, seem unfazed by the pressure of expectations.  Clijsters is with us for the rest of the year (and I still not-so-secretly hope for more) and will be extra motivated to win her first French Open and/or Wimbledon trophy.  Venus Williams might not ever win another Slam again, but it won’t be without trying like a true Champion to deal with her Sjogren’s Syndrome and find a way to compete on the top level again.  Wozniacki will (surely) be determined to regain her spot at the top of the rankings and earn that elusive Slam.  Li, Schiavone, and Stosur will all be eager to get rid of the “One Slam Wonder” label.  And then of course there’s Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Any given Slam.

I don’t think that dominance is the only way to measure success.  I don’t think that unpredictability is always a sign of weakness. If you disagree with the prior statements then that’s fine, but I do think that these female athletes deserve heaps more respect than they get on a regular basis.

Yes, I unabashedly love the WTA, flaws and all.

If I Were The Tennis Santa

I really feel bad for the tennis players over the holidays.  They work so hard for so little and barely have time to relax!  So if I were the Tennis Santa, what would I bring them to lighten their load and bring a smile to their faces during this season of cheer?

The first thing I would wrap up and put under the e-tree would be the Fountain of Youth. Did you know that it’s actually an Archaeological Park in Florida?  How cool! I’d pass out a lot of these since quite a few players are at or around the age of doom (30) and could use the assistance turning back the clock and prolonging their tennis primes. I wouldn’t give one to Federer though. He doesn’t need any help.

Speaking of turning back time, I’ve found the perfect gift to help Andy Roddick re-discover his days of glory- or at least his days of hair. The Afro-Visor!


For Andy Murray, I thought some “Understand Your Mother (Instantly) Breath Spray” might be helpful, considering his mother’s eternal wisdom and awesomeness.

I’d give this “Sharp-End Dog Pencil Sharpener” to Rafael Nadal, mainly just to see his reaction.  What’s the fun in playing Santa if you can’t be a little bit naughty?

 

On the other end of the spectrum Robin Soderling just got a new puppy, so I will certainly have to bring him an embarrassing costume for the adorable pet!

I thought I’d get the cerebral Sam Stosur something special to help those match to-do lists stay put. Sweat-bands and sharpies are too finicky of a combination for a Grand Slam Champion!  She’ll love these “To-Do Tattoos”.

 

I’ve decided it’s time for Agnieszka Radwanska to finally come out of the ninja closet.  This “Ninja Hooded Mask” will reveal her true identity in 2012. Watch out WTA!

 

For Mikhail Youzhny, and maybe the rest of his Russian compatriots, I’d like to try to eliminate the brain farts on the court.  Therefore, why not help them get out of their system off the court?  The “Brain Fart Whoopie Cushion” should do the trick.

 

And finally, I’d like to prolong the day that Jelena Jankovic inevitably runs out of entertaining excuses for losing tennis matches. With this “Instant Excuse Ball” the colorful Serbian should have material for years to come!

 

So that’s my list- what about you? What would you virtually gift to your favorite players if you were the Tennis Santa? Feel free to share in the comments section, or tweet me with your lists. And no matter what you celebrate, be sure to have a safe and happy Holiday season. There’s no time to be too naughty, the new tennis season is just around the corner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spain’s Davis Cup Future; Judy Murray as New Fed Cup Captain – The Friday Five

by Maud Watson

Familiar Territory

The Spanish Davis Cup team was back to its winning ways as it captured the coveted trophy for the fifth time since the year 2000.  Despite an uninspiring display from their doubles duo, the singles performances by the Spanish Armada could not have been better.  What a difference a surface makes as Rafael Nadal, who sealed the victory for Spain with his defeat of Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth match, looked a far cry from the fatigued and insecure player that lost in London.  But as great as the performance from the Spanish No. 1 was, the biggest props should be going to his compatriot and Spanish No. 2, David Ferrer.  Often overshadowed by the man from Mallorca, it was Ferrer who came back from 2-1 down against a fresh del Potro to give Spain what turned out to be a crucial 2-0 lead going into Saturday’s doubles rubber.  It was also Ferrer who got Spain past arguably the biggest hurdle in their quest for the cup by single-handedly taking out the Americans on a hard court on their home soil to keep Spain in the hunt.  All in all, a great effort by the squad and congrats to Spain for yet another historic win.

Uncertain Future

But as the dust settles on another joyous Davis Cup win for Spain, Spanish fans will have much to be apprehensive about concerning their Davis Cup chances for next year and possibly beyond.  Nadal has already announced he won’t play for the team next season, and Ferrer appears to be hinting he won’t be either.  Ferrer is not only citing a focus on the Olympics, but his age as well, which means his pullout could be a permanent one.  Nadal is also said to be focusing on the Olympics, which means he may return to the team competition in 2013.  How many of Spain’s veterans may be willing to answer the call in 2012 remains unknown.  Couple that with the fact that some of Spain’s younger players may not be ready to step up to the plate, and a sixth title in the near future seems less certain than ever.  But Spain continues to develop great players, and still has a depth of talent to choose from.  Excluding France, it’s hard to name a nation in a better position to fill the void of missing its top stars.

Spare a Thought

Even the most hardcore Spanish fan would have to be heartless to not feel some sympathy for the player who seemed to take Argentina’s Davis Cup loss hardest, Juan Martin del Potro.  He left it all on the court in a devastating five-set defeat to Ferrer on the opening day of the tie – a loss that was all the more gut-wrenching since it was practically a must-win point with Nadal waiting to play the third singles on Sunday.  It was del Potro who also had that unenviable task of playing Nadal on Sunday to keep his country’s hopes alive, and what an effort he put forth.  He came out guns blazing to absolutely stun Nadal in the first, and up an early break in the second, it seemed the unthinkable might actually happen.  But then his game started to go off, Nadal settled into his own, and though he fought back from a break down multiple times in that fourth and deciding set, the Spanish Bull proved too tough.  The Argentine’s tears were completely understandable, but hopefully after he’s had time to recover, his coach is going to be able to spin his two losses into a positive.  He made great strides in his comeback this year, and perhaps had he been fresher, his offense a little sharper, he could have taken Nadal down in his own backyard.  If he continues on this path, Nadal is right.  Juan Martin del Potro could easily crack the Top 4 in 2012.

New Voice

We may never know the identity of Caroline Wozniacki’s mystery coach who was assisting her at the end of this past season, but we do know she has officially hired Ricardo Sanchez to coach her along with her father in 2012.  Wozniacki is happy to have Sanchez aboard, stating she feels comfortable with him and knows that he already knows her strengths and weaknesses.  One of his most recent charges was Jelena Jankovic, which makes the pairing seem even more perfect.  Wozniacki has a similar game to Jankovic, is less prone to injury, and most importantly, has a better attitude.  The Dane is ultimately going to have to develop some bigger weapons and get mentally stronger if she’s to capture that elusive first major, but hiring Sanchez has more than likely moved her one step closer to that goal.

New Role

She was the Scottish national coach for nine years, as well as the coach of a handful of other British players, including her two sons Andy and Jamie.  Now Judy Murray will take on her newest and most prominent coaching role as captain of the British Fed Cup Team.  She’s replacing previous captain, Nigel Sears, who left the job to coach former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.  Ultimately, a team’s chances of success are determined by the amount of talent that is on the squad, but with her no-nonsense approach to the game, Judy Murray may just prove the shot in the arm that British women’s tennis needs.  It’s one more change to look forward to in 2012 as we all wait to see what surprises next season will bring.