When I saw it on ESPN that “WTA Tour says withdrawals down” I was very confused, especially in the light of the last tournament, the Sony Ericsson Championships, which was all about injuries.
The Championships saw Caroline Wozniacki suffer from severe leg cramps, Serena and Venus Williams had their left legs strapped, alternate Vera Zvonareva’s nose was bleeding and she pulled out after playing just one match, Victoria Azarenka also retired, top seed Dinara Safina retired with a serious back injury, and remember only ten singles players took part in the Championships (eight + two alternates).
Still, WTA Tour chairwoman and CEO Stacey Allaster states that the innovative scheduling system introduced in 2009 proved to be “a fantastic success”. She said the Roadmap increased attendance at Premier tournaments by 11% and decreased player withdrawals by 34%. In addition, prize money was increased by 34%, despite the global economic crisis.
This is kind of weird, you would expect the complete opposite to have been the case! Marija, are you doing retrospections of the players outfits this year?? I know all of your adoring readers including myself would love it if you could find the time to do them 😛
Hmm, I’m also surprised it is so. Last Championships in Doha were full of “casualtie” falling out one after another. But I guess it is because younger players have overstretched themeselves too much. For example, Caroline should definitely play at least 3 or 4 tournaments less then she does or else she will wear herself out before she gets the chance to have her big moment. She plays some great tennis and it would be such a shame. In my eyes she’s sizzling hot candidate for a slam next year. Same goes for Ana and of course Dinara,the bitter sweet no.1 of 2009.
Hopefully they will pick themeselves up in 2010 so we can see more healthy end of the year next year.
Marija you couldn’t have picked better picture to represent this article!!!
and yeah it also seems that this year there were more injuries than last but if the wta says that the injuries decrease we have to believe in them :S….
Of course there was a decrease in withdrawals…Jankovic and Bartoli barely made it to the second round in the majority of their tournaments!!! 😛
On a more serious note, the top 10 players had to play in so many tournaments because they would’ve been fined if they hadn’t (that’s the part of the ‘roadmap’ that they don’t tell you about), so yeah, that’s why Serena didn’t give much effort in those early losses at those clay tournies: she was injured, but in-exempt from playing, so she only showed up in order to avoid a fine. She, and many others, would’ve withdrawn from many tournies if it weren’t all about the $$$.
Ella makes a valid point with Bartoli, but then she is French. Wta says decrease in withdrawls yet 6 out of 10 suffered from some injury or had something taped. If my math is right that is 60%. The players always complain about something, one year its the season is too long, the next it is the fact that they will get a fine if they don’t do enough tournies. Being a player is like working in retail. Its all fun and games until you realize how much work it actually is.
Bróna, I think I’ll do some retrospections, during the off-season. I won’t do as many as last year, I know some readers were sick of them. 🙂
Marine, Caroline played 91 match this season, it’s crazy.
Nacho, thanks. Well, you know there are many just as severe pictures to illustrate this post.
Ella, it’s all about the money, but it’s horrible when it influences their health. Sometimes it’s ok to stand a bit of pain, but I often close my eyes in horror when I see players struggle like Wozniacki did at the SEC.
P!nky, no job is easy, that’s a fact. And being a tennis player is not half as glamorous as it may look, I’m sure about that.
Thanks Marija that’s great news. I enjoyed all of the ones you did last year so for me there weren’t too many of them 😛 I can’t believe that Wozniacki played 91 matches, that’s insane. I thought Jankovic played a lot in 2007 but this is beyond crazy. No wonder Wozniacki wasn’t playing as well after the US Open.
Nacho,good point.I always roll my eyes when I hear them moaning about how much they have to play. However, they never complain about being paid loads. If they feel they cannot go on, there’s an easy remedy: pay a fine and rest. Also, WTA does not force them to play, they have to show up at least for sponsors on the event and NOT play. But for some of them even that is too much. Ah well, greed is a bad master…
i totally agree with you marine!! and i mean if you are a tennis player why the wta or atp has to fine me if i don’t wanna play any tournament? i mean is my problem if i play or not!! is going to be reflected in the rankings…
Also, WTA does not force them to play, they have to show up at least for sponsors on the event and NOT play. But for some of them even that is too much. Ah well, greed is a bad master…
Yes Marine, thank you for making it clear-this is what I should have said. They have to show up for sponsors, but if they cannot prove that they are injured (from a WTA doctor), their only choice is to retire from their first round match, or not try and lose the match easily. For example, when Serena hurt her thigh at Miami, she was able to withdraw from Charleston two weeks later because she had proof from a doctor that she couldn’t play (and avoided a fine); however, it wasn’t a major enough injury to require weeks of rest off (like Zvonareva’s ankle), so, she had to continue playing (ie. losing in the first round) to avoid a fine of withdrawing without necessary excuse. She then brags about how they make her pay if she can’t play; and how she’s spending $90,000 on FURNITURE in her home and the economy’s bad so she HAS to play ‘injured’ to avoid the ‘huge fines’…ridiculous.
The WTA made this new rule because many of the top players would commit to certain tournies and withdraw from them for no true reason, yet, they demanded to be treated as equal to the ATP and wanted equal prize money for those same events. You can’t beg that sponsors keep shovelling money into your Gucci purses if you aren’t going to show up and help sell tickets and advertising, it’s crazy how women’s tennis is really an ugly pool of greedy monsters.
Another example, Jankovic wants us to think that she plays too much because it improves her game, but, she’s made it known many times that she loves money and loves to spend obscene amounts at a time shopping-which is the real reason why she plays every single week (also to keep her top 10 ranking). But whenever she’s on a losing streak, its always “oh, they make us play so much, my body needs rest yadda yadda..” Wozniacki did the same thing this year that Jelena’s been doing the past three years…and look at what it’s gotten her…over 2 million dollars in prize money, a top 5 ranking, a slam final…and a banged up hamstring, quad and abdomen. Is it really worth it?
Good points Ms. Ella. On the other hand we have players that only want to play at important tournaments and slams. I called them part time players because they don’t want to play the full season. An example of this players are the ones who are coming out retirement and the Williams sisters; so while some players are penalize for not playing the require 16 tournaments that the WTA have imposed them, the others stay fresh by having less wear and tear from doing less traveling, number of matches, etc. and the WTA has no problem with this. I don’t buy into the philosophy, “Well they earn their dues they should do whatever they want”. HELL NO, that is cheating! The other sports that I follow are team sports and all the teams no play the same number of games in a season, no matter the sport. No team plays more or less. I maybe comparing apples an oranges since tennis is an individual sport but something must be done (how are things done in track and field?). I don’t think the WTA will do anything in the case of players playing too many tournaments nor the ones who play less because they don’t have the ovaries and or testicles to do so due to “The super star treatment”.
Carlos, I never agreed that the Williamses were only playing half a season-they played in mainly the top tournies and brought in the $$$ for the WTA (by ticket sales and tv ads), which is exactly what the WTA demands from their top stars. The real ‘controversy’ with the sisters was that they were able to play so little and still win against the top players (Hingis, Devenport, Henin, etc.)in the big tournies, while those same top players needed to play so many matches to be “in form” and the sisters didn’t, which pissed everyone off (I believe that it’s mostly due to racism/elitism, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). Even Kim recently gave the sisters credit for managing their schedules and having outside interests-which she believes has contributed to their longevity (remember, Kim would play at least 21 tournies a season, which is ridiculous).
The real problem with women’s tennis is that it has shifted to making superstar glamour girls rather than superstar athletes (I call it the Kournikova Komplex). When she came on the scene, she received INSTANT recognition for her looks, which gave instant recognition (and $$$$$$$) to the WTA. Since then, they haven’t broken that formula (see Maria Sharapova, glamour girl extraordinaire) and they don’t plan to-because it’s making them so much money they don’t know when to say when.
Yes, Clijsters and Henin are coming back as a chance to win more slams in a less competitive field-but since the WTA is all about the $$$, and Justine and Kim are money makers, they could care less whether Justine played only the slams and a few tier I’s and if Clijsters agreed to play the slams and maybe five others (she actually committed to playing 16 tourines next year, including the slams, so she’s already playing a top 10er schedule-they only have to commit to 10).
Oh, and track and field is indeed an apples to oranges game. Track (along with swimming) are the pride and joy of the Olympics. They rack in so much money from advertising that it’ll make your head spin. Both sports have international meets, and certain meets are more “important” than others because of the sponsorship/prize money/attendance (much like the slams/tier I’s/Masters Series in tennis). The difference is that one is expected to show up and compete in the major meets because that’s where all the other top athletes (the probably Olympic medalists) will be competing. For example, no one would care if Usain Bolt won a meet in his home country Jamaica because he’s not competing with other top sprinters in the world, but if he’s at a meet in Rome or Tokyo or Sydney, he better show up to win. It’s the same with Phelps and swimming. The other ‘smaller’ meets are for the ‘lower level’ swimmers, but the Olympic competition (the Aussies, Germans, Chinese, South Africans) will all be at the top meets-that’s where you show what you’ve got, not at the smaller meets, you only have to show up for sponsorship purposes to help sell tickets.
And with team sports, like the NFL and NBA, I don’t think it’s any surprise that these are drug sports, and the reason there is an off-season is to give the body a break from the drugs and heavy training, so those sports require at least three months off so that the body can regenerate new cells and have healthy happy players to begin the new season (and sell sell sell tickets/ads).
Ms. Ella for starters I never said that you agreed with me on the Williams sisters playing part time or as you said “half season”. I agreed with you on your priors points and I commenced to state my points.
The NFL and NBA have tougher rules on illegal drugs and enhancing performing drugs, the exception is MLB they are different. Check the MLB players union. Also NFL is a brutal sport, in any play a player can have a career ending injury (that is why I don’t like comparing a sport to any other sport is comparing apples and oranges). Getting back to the Williams sisters, the less an athlete play the less wear and tear the body takes. Look at the USO 09, semis Mrs. K.C. against Serena, clearly Mrs. K.C. was fresher as in someone who did not played an entire season. You may disagree, but it looked to me that way from my living room. By playing less also prevented the Williams sisters from being ranked number one for a longer time= more weeks ranked number one. Check Graff.
Would it be fair that a person at your work place that only shows up 75% percent of time have the same promotions and bonuses as person who shows up every day? Even if that person was the top dog in company it would be suspicious.
I don’t like H. Bolt.
I thought that track and field had a season on where the athletes were suppose to participate in a number of meets, for some reason I thought it was 16 I maybe wrong. If they did not participate in those 16 meets they couldn’t claim that they were champions for that year -I think- .
As long as a player fills the stands the WTA won’t do anything.
Carlos I’m sorry; I didn’t mean that you said I agreed, I was just stating ‘I don’t agree’ with what you’re saying. Yes, I do agree with you on the US Open, but that situation is different-a player can come out of retirement whenever he/she chooses. Now, should Kim have commenced her career earlier in the season to be more fair? Of course, but there’s a difference with ‘fair’ and ‘breaking the rules’. Women’s tennis is at a low right now, so anything to fill the stands will make the WTA happy (and they are desperate for Sony Ericsson to continue as title sponsor, so they could care less about ‘fair’ really).
About the Sisters again-the tour wants the top players to play mostly the top events because that’s where the tour makes the most money. In fact, the big tournies carry the smaller ones (which are mainly for younger players and to help promote the sport in smaller/’tennis illiterate’ countries). The tour never complained about them playing “less”, it was mostly the media/other top players who were angry that they showed up ‘fresher’ at the big events when everyone else was ‘hurting’-but that’s on their own accord. Nobody told Kim or Martina that they needed to play 20 tournies a season, they choose that route to make money/keep their top rankings, while the sisters didn’t need to ‘keep in form’ by playing so much-they played their committed tournies and won, that was the main issue, not that they weren’t ‘supporting the tour’. That was Mary Carillo and all the other elite idiots who didn’t like that the sisters had their own formula to success.
Track has two seasons I believe; outdoor and indoor (Spring/Summer and winter respectively). Yes, you are correct that they must participate in a certain number (not sure if it is still 16 though), however, there are smaller meets and bigger ‘more important’ meets: if Bolt won at a smaller meet nobody would really care; but he needs to win at the big events for people (ie. sponsors) to ‘care’. The meets are similar to tennis, just think of having Wimbledon every other month, and then Indian Wells and Miami the other months, and a few Medibank Internationals (the smaller ones) to fill in the spaces every month. You only compete at Medibank to stay in form/make sponsors happy, not to ‘win’…you need to win Wimbledon and Indian Wells though, because that’s where you give your sponsors the most recognition, make the most money, and receive the most practice for Wimbledon.
Think of Serena as the Wimbledon meet winner, Venus as Miami winner, and Hingis as the Wimbledon semifinalists, Miami runner-up, and Medibank winner. Venus and Serena play Medibank, but get knocked out early…who do you think would be the most satisfied with their own results?
To answer your question depends on how the player and the player’s team spins it. Important titles vs consistency. Personally I prefer the important titles. A similar comparison would be(MLB)the Atlanta Braves who won more games in the 90s than any other team, and only one world series title vs the Yankees who won three Worlds Series in the 90s. The team of the decade were the Yankees. Show me the titles.
The Williams sisters were claiming titles, but the lack of participation prevented them from being ranked number one for a longer time. Seems that being ranked number one was an after thought, it seems that until this year being rank number one has become relevant. Your right about Hingis and other players who maintained themselves in the top ten by playing a lot of tournaments and staying healthy in the case of Hingis. I also agree with you about Mary Carillo she gets under my skin from time to time, she has to go.
Are you a fan of H. Bolt?
I’m indifferent to Bolt, really. I’m from the Bahamas, and Jamaicans are our track rivals, but the Bahamians aren’t doing too well lately so I usually support any Caribbean athlete that comes around.
Your MLB comparison was spot on! I also favour titles over consistency. I believe that consistency is for players that need the confidence boost, while important titles are contested, and won, amongst the best; and once you can defeat the best (with or without being ‘match ready’) you are the top player of the bunch, regardless of rankings (Serena Aussie ’07 and Venus Wimbledon ’05 comes to mind).
I think the rankings ran a muck since Justine left, and once every #1 started crashing miserably it was the only thing really going on in women’s tennis to write about (other than the ugly double faults). Yes, Serena did run her mouth about being #1, but only after Dinara kept blabbing about how she’s more ‘consistent’ even though Serena’s won the ‘bigger tournies’. Deep down I don’t think Serena cares about it because she’s been #1 before, she’s going after slam records now, there’s no real record for being #1 the most weeks. Truth is, nobody really cares.
Good points as Ms. Ella, I agree with you.
Track and field goes in cycles. Probably in a couple of years the Bahamas will be fighting for top spots.
In my opinion rankings are not that wrong. They favour consistency throughout the season as the most important thing. I think it is correct way of assessing players; the season includes many events and what WTA needs is to get people interested in the WHOLE of it not only in a handful of big tournaments. In my view Grand Slams has a reputation of its own and it will sell well with or without the big stars. See this year’s US Open – the top 10 players falling out one after another and finally a surprise winner. If U watched the final you can see the arena was really excited for Clijsters’ victory and Caro made her big mark,too. The smaller events however, do need a big name to sell.But if a big star does not show a good level of play at least on a few of them then …you need a new star. That is why WTA needs to shift the spotlight from the likes of Williamses to all-season players such as Wozniacki, Safina even Maria. They are the stars which shine throughout the season,not slam-wonders. But the tour still did not get it, it seems. I checked out an article about most visited players profiles. Top 3: Caro (1), Dinara (2), Serena (3). But (!) the pictures with the post were of Serena, Venus and Maria!
Marine “Top 3: Caro (1), Dinara (2), Serena (3). But (!) the pictures with the post were of Serena, Venus and Maria!” – hahahah insane!
Marine, the WTA DID shift the spotlight on Dinara during the clay season; as Roland Garros approached, she was the CLEAR favourite to win, not Serena. Tennis Channel did so many promos featuring Dinara, they did a week where they showed some of her best matches in her career, they reminded everyone that she is the world #1, she was even on Sportscenter, which barely shows tennis, even the sisters.
Dinara bombed miserably in two consecutive slam finals, who the hell wants to continue to watch “the world’s #1 player” crash and burn like a junior player in a slam final twice? Who wants to pay money for that?
Caroline had the spotlight on her on ESPN also during Roland Garros as a possible “upsetter”, but she bombed early and that was that. I can’t believe you think that Maria needs even more spotlight on her. So yeah, I’m not buying that they only show Serena-she’s an obvious favourite for every slam beacuse she’s a former champ of all of them.
I’m not sold Caroline is a star, the average U.S sport fan don’t know who she is, but at least they heard about the Williams sisters. I bet all of those visits that she got on her profile page were people trying to find out who she was, specially after she reached the U.S. Open final.
As I recall US Open semifinal in which Wozniacki played there were only 500 people in the stadium; if she is a star why was the stadium empty? This event was a two months ago, I’ve seen more people at high school sporting events. Yet in the other semifinal the stadium was packed. The grand slams need the real stars.
Ella, yes, in comparison with Serena Dinara got much less spotlight (especially in a positive manner). “Who the hell would like to watch a player who bombed on slams? ”
Well, Venus also had an unsuccessful year, hasn’t she? No slams at all, early exit at AO, final in Wimbly and Doha. And people still want to watch her. Why? Well, she was not ridiculed in the media after her loss at slams as Dinara. And she is a much bigger name than her.
Regarding Maria, I meant a spotlight in terms of her comeback. I expected sort of evaluation of it predictions, etc. It’d quite nice esp after that long forced break.
Carlos, Caroline is a real star. People are just getting to know her,this has been her breakthrough year and after what she’s done in Doha…woow.
US fans care about US players the most, nothing so surprising there although they surely have a knowledge about the rest of the world, I’d suppose. We don’t know what was the purpose of visits on her pages, it could as well have been fans of hers.
Marija: I know, quite a mismatch,eh? They don’t even resemble, hehehe :0)
Anyhow, I’m not sure if the new system they put in place worked that well. Doha was like accident&emergency end of the year tournament.
Or maybe it’s players’ management. I think they need to assess how much they can afford to play. It’s no good for their physique to go for extremes of Caro but then again it isn’t professional to ditch most of the season and go for the big vallet events only as fans are watching smaller tournaments as well.
Because Caroline played a lot of tournaments (91 matches)she racked up a bunch of points like a pin ball machine, it was the only reason she got in at the YEC and her body paid the price. She has a losing record against top ten players 5-9 (two of those victories at the YEC, 2 against Dementieva). She didn’t fair well at the AO, RG, with unexpected early exits. The only top ten player that she beat in the USO was a chocking Russian, but to her credit I will giver her that victory. Her popularity comes how she marketed herself, as a “pretty blond”. Before Caroline started wearing the Stella McCurse outfits, her Addidas outfits (her skirts and tennis shorts) were so short that you could see her underwear, even the pimples on her butt. I’m sure it went well with oversexed male teenagers, and not the reason why I follow women’s tennis. A popular item doesn’t mean is a good product, check Kournikova.
Marine, you write about the sisters as if they turned pro yesterday. Serena is a former champ of all slams, Venus two of them and finalists at the others-of course they are going to be marketed well. I don’t understand the issue you have with them. They’ve earned their exposure by defeating the best players in the world. They’re still on top and so many people seem to have issue with that. Of course the spotlight will be on Venus at the US Open-she’s a former champ AND an American, how else do you think Oudin came to spotlight? You think if she were Swedish and did what she did the Americans would care? Of course not, she’s an American at America’s slam who defeated glamour girl extrordinaire Maria, she will bring ratings and sell tickets.
I agree with Carlos 100% about Caroline. She’s already pitted as the future of women’s tennis after the sisters are gone-notice how every commentator mentions “when the sisters are gone…” that’s because they don’t choke and earn their titles by defeating the best players in the world. They bring ratings and sell tickets, which, as an athlete is your job. Winning only counts for endorsements and history, which are the athletes personal gains. You know how many people complained about wasting money attending the Roland Garros final watching the world’s #1 bomb miserably? She had the spotlight all tournament, center court every match blowing her competitors out the water with a grin leading up to quaters with Azarenka, her first top 10er, who almost knocked her out. How can you market the #1 who can win small tournies with top 200 players and then lose second round in big tournies to top 100 players?
As I’ve said many times, women’s tennis is not about amazing athleticism…it’s about pretty white girls who can bring in ratings and sell tickets. The WTA could care less about who’s the best from who isn’t. You think people who watch Caroline care about her backhand, or people care about Ivanovic’s forehand? These women suddenly became popular because of their looks, NOT their amazing talents. The sisters became popular because they were black women playing a sport in their country that black people weren’t even allowed to play for decades…and they were beating top competition left and right. Everything they said and did was under a microscope since Venus made US Open semis ’97 against Spirlea. There are people who hate them and don’t even have a good reason for it.
As for the roadmap, I thought about it more and it actually is a great idea. If a player chooses to overplay during the season and then bomb at Doha against the top players of the year that’s their problem (Caroline, Dinara). Don’t be upset because the sisters have thought out their schedule and manage it better than your favourite players; be upset that your favs are ranking/money hungry and don’t play smart.
Ella, the issue is very simple: they are both playing well only on a handful of big events and have mediocre or rubbish results during the rest of the season. They had their peak, but that’s gone now and we really see their level of play rise only few times a year. And yet,they are portrayed as some tennis miracles who keep the game alive. They keep it going,yes, but tennis does not stand or fall on the Williams sisters, however, the amount of hype they receive tries to convince us about that. So what they’ve won so much big titles when outside of the big tournament they just don’t bother what you nicely spin as “managing the schedule”. And money hungry? Isn’t it the Williamses who are really money-hungry here when they step up their game only on the biggest tournaments…?! Caroline, Dinara and the rest who play all throughout the season and thus give fans something to watch are those who have my respect. They favour sport not stuffing their accounts with generous prize money. But obviously people like you cant and don’t want to see that, you’ll rather watch a seasonal player. Well, that’s your problem,but I don’t watch tennis just at slams so I value those who grind the tour more than generally-not-great-BUT-have-**-slams players.
Another thing, you complain about Dinara and her performance. Well, she hasn’t made it to winning a slam, however she’s got to the finals twice and also to the semis. Therefore those who has bought the tickets to her matches up to that point have seen her winning majority of them.
She’s failed to win, however, she had success elsewhere, too, so those who went to see the “tournies” had a chance to enjoy some great play. Conversely, Serena left a lot to be desired with early exits. As one of the top seeds, which she was,she was also supposed to do well as smaller events need a star even more to earn WTA enough. Tennis is not financed solely from sales of the grand slams! Those tournaments Serena played were not some tiny unimportant tournies,she figured on many premier events and big tournaments. I bet that those who came desired to see some of that tennis magic there as well… and must have been pretty disappointed when their stars fell to qualifiers, out-of-top-20 players etc. …
1. If you think that Caroline and Dinara play so many tournaments to “give fans something to watch” then you are delusional; Dina herself said that she was desperate to end the year as #1, and that’s the only reason she played after Wimbledon even though she knew she could’ve potentially hurt her back even more-which ended up happening anyway. Caro followed JJ’s 2008 formula-play every tourny possible with a sweet smile and rack up enough points to get into top 10-it worked, but now she has a busted up thigh that will probably hamper her progress next season.
2.The Sisters are playing for slams; Clijsters and Henin came(coming) back for slams-they don’t care about smaller tournies and they don’t have to-they’ve paid their dues earlier in their career and have worn out their bodies, the WTA is desperate for them to hang on and compete in slams for as long as they can. You think Kim gave her all when she played Dina in Cincinnati or when she played Luxembourg? If you do, get real.
3.If you don’t think that the slams are everything when it comes to tennis money then you are wrong-the amount of money made from advertising alone with the sisters, the Belgians and Sharapova playing all slams in one season would feed every African child for decades, while JJ, Dementieva, Caroline, etc. can sweat it in the Premier 5 tournies and the tour will break even: does this make it ok? Of course not, but that is the WTA structure. They know who to market and when to market them to make their money. If you don’t like it, write them a letter, don’t tell me about how they’re treating Dinara/Caroline and “all season players” ‘unfairly’.
4.I didn’t complain about Dina’s performance-but people who spent their money on her matches did. Yes, they saw her play at smaller tournies, and hoped to support her at the slams, and when they did, she lost to a top 100 player in a match she should win (being the world’s #1 player and all). If Roland Garros/Aussie final were more competitive the rankings wouldn’t be an issue, but she crashes uncontrollably when she faces a top 10 (50) player and can barely get a serve in. Once again, how can you walk around calling yourself #1 when you struggle to win a game against #2?
Serena and Venus have played and won almost every tournament out there; they are nearing the end of their careers and have paid their dues; thank you very much! Serena has won slams in the last three decades competing against all of the greats of tennis since 1998.