June 04, 2002

Venus, Serena Williams and Capriati advance to Semis.: Is it just me, or has the focus of tennis today moved to the women's side? A few years ago, we had the heated Sampras/Agassi matchup, during which time Hingis dominated and made women's tennis more predictable. Have we reached a relative golden age for women?

posted by BlueTrain to tennis at 02:31 PM - 11 comments

Maybe so, but I still watch men's tennis much more than women's. The only exception being the women's finals, I usually try to catch it.

posted by corpse at 02:38 PM on June 04, 2002

At least women's tennis is more interesting than women's basketball. Is it just me, or has the focus of tennis today moved to the women's side? Maybe so, but it's only because there is currently no de facto superstar on the men's side. Agassi and Sampras are still around, but now only Agassi can be called a contender. Their star power has faded. The Williams sisters, on the other hand, are incredibly athletic, and probably not at the peak of their games yet. The excitement these individuals generate draw lots of media attention. There is also one other reason the focus of tennis is on the women's side: Anna Kournikova.

posted by insomnyuk at 03:00 PM on June 04, 2002

Tennis is a prime example of technology damaging a sport. The increased technology of tennis rackets from the 80s to the present (wood to steel to graphite to polysynthetics to larger sweet spots to etc, etc,) has ruined men's tennis. For example, watching Sampras play a match on grass is as boring as tennis gets (he serves, he volleys, he serves, he volleys, he serves, he serves, he serves, he serves). It used to be that tennis was compared to chess: winning a point involved some strategy. Today it is about POWER. Outside of the French Open, where clay slows the game, men's tennis rarely allows for points to be developed. The women's game is still slow enough to appreciate. And they have better legs.

posted by jacknose at 03:37 PM on June 04, 2002

I don't think that women's tennis has hit a golden age as much as men's tennis has hit a dark age. Seles and Graf were just as fun to watch as Venus and Serena. Men's tennis seems to be at a lull and probably will be until the next generation of men's tennis that SI slobbers over so much get some experience under their belts. Give it a few years and I fully expect men's tennis to be totally revamped, maybe starting a golden age for men's tennis. That being said, Hingis, Capriati and the Williams sisters are great fun to watch. I could watch Venus and Serena play doubles for a few days without getting bored. I gotta root for Serena. This might be the victory she needs to get out of Venus's massive shadow.

posted by ttrendel at 04:08 PM on June 04, 2002

Actually, in my case the Williams sisters have completely turned me off to women's tennis. I liked it better before they came along (we were just discussing here at work how dislikable they are). It is nice to see how far Capriati has come though. I miss the men's game from about 10 years ago, when Agassi wasn't living up to his potential, and all those other guys, edberg, lendl, chang, etc (yeah, I know chang's still around, but that doesn't count) were tearing it up as well. There were so many cool players to pay attention to. These days the top tier isn't as high and is definitely not as well-populated... I don't even know how many of the top 10 I can even name...

posted by Bernreuther at 04:35 PM on June 04, 2002

Bjorn and McEnroe, with a side of Connors. The best days of men's tennis. Period. (imho)

posted by jacknose at 04:46 PM on June 04, 2002

[link]"One answer to why public interest in men's tennis has been on the wane in recent years is an essential and unpretty thugishness about the power-baseline style that's become dominant on the tour. Watch Agassi closely sometime...he's amazingly absent of finesse, with movements that look more like a heavy-metal musician's than an athlete's...what a top PBer really resembles is film of the old Soviet Union putting down a rebellion. It's awesome, but brutally so, with a grinding, faceless quality about its power that renders that power curiously dull and empty." david foster wallace. (originally a magazine article - republished in a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again)

posted by lescour at 04:52 PM on June 04, 2002

Jacknose, I agree with you about technology ruining the men's game. On the other hand, it's also improved the women's game, giving them the power to complement their finesse. Also. there are currently more women playing who are capable of winning tournaments, as opposed to the days when Navratilova or Court won everything. In fact, the women's game of today is remarkably similar to the men's game of 20-30 years ago.

posted by salmacis at 05:44 PM on June 04, 2002

This is France: clay in the men's game means that the French title basically goes to a different breed of players from those who dominate the rest of the season. (Though frankly, I take the opposite view from jacknose, and regard clay-court men's tennis as dull as ditchwater. Roll on Wimbledon: yes, it's bang-boom tennis, but it's where the truly astonishing ability of Agassi to return a serve is seen at its finest.) But I do think that there's probably an element of popular frustration when yer big names (Sampras esp) crash out early in Paris, leaving the draw full of interchangeable, personality-free groundstrokers. (You know who they are, but not who each of them is.) And most of them either don't enter Wimbledon, or crash out themselves in the early rounds. Whereas most women nowadays (post-Navratilova, anyway) play ground-shot tennis, and fear the net like a vampire fears garlic, crosses and Buffy. Which means that the players who dominate the rest of the season tend to do well in France, providing a sense of continuity in the season-long drama rather than an aberration.

posted by etagloh at 07:40 PM on June 04, 2002

Bernrethuer, there is some underlying racism in that statement, I think you, and your buddies don't like athletic black women, do you want them to all look like Martina Hingis? Jacknose, you are correct sir Borg, Mac, and Jimbo, hell throw Lendl and Stefen Edberg in there too.

posted by jbou at 12:50 AM on June 05, 2002

jbou: What's racist about not liking the Williams sisters? I think you need to chill out, pal.

posted by salmacis at 04:04 AM on June 05, 2002

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