Day 1 of the US Open changed the future of tennis media


The first day of the US Open was a bumpy ride for big names, as Serbian sisters Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, both former top-ranked players, crashed out, the 2004 singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and former junior champion Heather Watson are also out, as well as this year’s US Open Series winner Karolina Pliskova, who was destroyed by Anna Tatishvili. However, even though the opening of the US Open said goodbye to quite a few notable players, there is something else that this day will stay remembered for in the long run – the first mid-match interview in tennis history took place on Monday, when Pam Shriver interviewed Coco Vandeweghe in-between sets of the American’s match against compatriot Sloane Stephens.

ESPN’s commentator Shriver approached Vandeweghe with the idea before the match and the world No.45 American accepted the challenge. Of course, Shriver ensured that the interview would not interfere with Coco’s match focus, so she gave her free rein to opt out if it would turn out that the interview would crack her concentration.

After winning the first set against Sloane, Coco nodded to Pam that she was OK and went on to answer two quick questions: “What were you most happy with in the first set?” and “What do you need to do in the second set to close out the win?”

This may now become a trend, as I’m sure that other journalists would also like to arrange such exciting interviews. Actually, Jamie Reynolds, Vice President, Production, for ESPN has already said that they are going to continue with this during the US Open fortnight: “We’ve received positive feedback within the sport, and look forward to continuing with them these two weeks. It’s one more avenue in which we seek to bring fans closer to the athletes.”

With all the media demands, it’s becoming increasingly difficult being a tennis player, but then again, tennis is there because of fans. Actually, Coco said that players have so many on-court distractions anyway, so they have to be masters of their concentration and one short interview shouldn’t make it collapse.

But there’s lots of distractions that go on during a tennis match. At the same time, we have on-court coaching during WTA events. You could also lose focus in that way because you’re speaking to someone. If you aren’t able to put those distractions aside, then you need to kind of definitely work on that aspect of your game.

Nevertheless, even though this was a good experience and Coco actually recorded one of her biggest career victories, upsetting seed No.29 Stephens 6-4 6-3, she can’t say for sure that she’ll do such an interview again:

Maybe another time I’ll be not feeling it as much, and I’ll tell Pam to go sit back down, which might be equally as fun.

All the players, both ATP and WTA, having been buzzing about this and reactions are mixed. Generally they find it interesting, but the fear of this becoming mandatory must also be there.

Caroline Wozniacki is not so fond of this novelty:

Caro’s bestie Serena Williams is sort of neutral:

Being a vintage player from Lord knows what decade — and I’m old-school, so I don’t know if I can say that’s something I would do, per se — but I found it quite interesting. […] Maybe that’s the future of tennis, the future of where it’s going. You know, hopefully they don’t make that mandatory. […] I don’t necessarily want to answer questions about anything. I just want to be in that moment.

Something tells me that this will not turn out to be just a one-time event. What do you think?


  1. Hmm, rather than ask the players, maybe espn should focus on doing interviews with the coaches in between sets? Those can be more insightful than ones with players, and if they do them during the regular season, when on court coaching is allowed, they could make it mandatory for those that sign up for on court coaching.

    I love sloane’s outfit! Do you know where it’s available? It reminds me of Serena’s old crop top looks, only more wearable

  2. Well, I will not miss Ivanovic since I am no fan of hers, but this time, I will not miss the dress either, it being quite plain and a bit boring in my opinion (I still miss the one from Wimbledon, though, that one being quite pretty but not exposed as much as it deserved due to early exit even then).
    However, I was looking forward to see Heather Watson’s outfit (it looked really fun on Twitter) but sadly, there was an early exit as well.. 🙁
    As for the interview above, I agree with Wozniacki…

  3. I liked the concept of mid match player interviews if the individual player agrees to it. ESPN has already interviewed baseball players, especially the starting pitchers, mid game before. I believe Pam has interviewed coaches mid match..I think I saw her interview Venus’ coach during her match with Monica Puig.

  4. Ga, unfortunately Under Armour is not as good with distribution as some other brands and I often can’t find Sloane’s outfits even at their official website. And that’s the case with this one as well. If I happen to come across it, I will let you know here.

    As for the interview, you are probably right that interviews with coaches would be more insightful. Coco said that she had no idea what she had said to Pam.

    Claire, I actually thought that more players would be like Wozniacki, but as you can see, most of those that spoke out remained open for the possibility.

  5. Obviously so sad to see Ivanovic lost in 1st round. But seems like she loves tennis but tennis is not everything anymore for her. Good for her but bad for us the fans.

    About the mid match interview, I think it’s really depend on players. When you are winning of course it’s fine, but if other way I believe no one wants to do it. Hahaha!!


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