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Pennetta, a positive example for all Italians

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TENNIS- Flavia Pennetta has crowned her fantastic career on Sunday when she won the first Premier Mandatory Tournament of her tennis life by beating Agniewska Radwanska in straight sets 6-2 6-1 in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells at the age of 32. Diego Sampaolo

 

Pennetta has moved from World Number 21 to 12 in the WTA Ranking, a sensational result considering that she dropped to World Number 166 last year after a career-threatening wrist injury which required surgery and sidelined her for six months. The tennis player from Brindisi did better in August 2009 when she became the first Italian player to reach the top-10 in the WTA Ranking.

After so many years and so much work, this is the moment I have been waiting for. It’s coming when you don’t expect because at the beginning of the week I did not expect to be the champion or to be in the final and in the semifinal”, said Pennetta.

Pennetta considered retiring from tennis at the beginning of last year but the fourth round reached at Wimbledon followed by an impressive semifinal at the US Open last September made her change her mind about her future. At the beginning of 2014 she picked up where she left off last year reaching the quarter final at the Australian Open, where she lost to eventual champion Li Na. After losing in the quarter final against Venus Williams at Dubai, Pennetta beat 2013 Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens and the two top-seeds players Li Na in the semifinal and Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. It was the second time in a row that Pennetta beat the Polish player one month after the win in Dubai. Her win against Radwanska was her seventh victory against a top-3 player. She enjoyed her first win against a top.3 player in Zurich in 2008 when she beat Jelena Jankovic. She then defeated Venus Williams in Cincinnati in 2009, Vera Zvonareva in Sydney 2011, Caroline Wozniacki in Beijing 2011, Agnieszka Radwanska twice in Dubai and Indian Wells in 2014 and Li Na in Indian Wells 2014.

It was just at Indian Wells last year when she lost in the first round against Francesca Schiavone that she seriously contemplated the idea of hanging up her tennis racquet.

It’s amazing because I perfectly remember after the match in Indian Wells with Francesca last year, the day after I was in the garden talking with my physio, almost crying because everything was so bad. After one we have the trophy. He is happy because we worked so much. Without him, my coach Salvador Navarro, my family, perhaps I would not be here. Indian Wells has been my first triumph since Marbella in 2010. I wanted to win my tenth title and reach the double figure. Ten sounds good”, said Pennetta.

Pennetta kept a lot of tennis fans glued in front of television on Sunday when she lifted her biggest trophy. It was a well-deserved prize for one of the nicest players on the WTA Circuit, admired not only for her tennis style but also for her personality and her determination not to give up after a difficult period.

Pennetta has started the golden period of Italian tennis in 2009 becoming the first player to reach the top-10 when she won in Los Angeles. Her achievement was just the beginning. Less than one year later Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian player to win a Grand Slam when she triumphed at the Roland Garros in 2010. One year later Schiavone reached her second consecutive Roland Garros final losing to Li Na. In 2012 Sara Errani surprisingly qualified for the Roland Garros final losing to Maria Sharapova.

Pennetta also won the WTA Championships doubles trophy in 2010 and the Australian Open doubles title with her close friend Gisela Dulko from Argentina. Pennetta and Dulko teamed up together in many doubles tournaments and have become close friends outside the tennis circuit.

The other highlights of her career include the four Fed Cup wins with the Italian team in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013 and ten tournaments (Sopot in 2004. Bogotá and Acapulco in 2005, Bangkok 2007, Acapulco and Vina del Mar in 2008, Palermo and Los Angeles in 2009, Marbella in 2010 and Indian Wells in 2014).

Pennetta has built most of her success in her favourite US hard court tournaments. She reached her first Grand Slam semifinal last year at Flushing Meadows and three more US quarter finals in 2008, 2009 and 2011. She scored 12 of her 13 wins over top-5 players on hard-court tournaments.

The US Crowd are always nice with me. They support me all the time, even when I play against a US player”, said Pennetta.

Pennetta grew up in a family with a strong passion for tennis, especially her father Oronzo and her mother Concetta who have always supported her daughter in both good and bad days. Flavia was introduced to tennis at the age of 5 inspired by her tennis idol Monica Seles.

“Flavia has done a lot of sacrifices in her life and she is now reaping the fruits of her hard work”, said Oronzo Pennetta when he interviewed by Italian tennis channel Supertennis after the Indian Wells final.

I called my dad after the final and he couldn’t breathe. My father is the most important person in my life”, said Pennetta

After the Indian Wells win even a Grand Slam is not an unrealistic goal but Pennetta prefers going ahead step by step without setting too big goals, “Last year I just said:  “If I finish the year in the top 100, it will be okay. I finished 20, so it was much better. Now I am still in the same way. I never had a goal. I never had a big goal in my mind. I have always been like this. I have few days to enjoy and start to focus again because I have to play my next match in Miami. The worst thing about tennis is that you cannot enjoy a win too much. After beating Li Na, I had to return to the court the day after to play against Radwanska”

Beating the top-two players Li Na and Radwanska was a very important result but It’s a long way before I will be able to return to the top 10. The most important thing is that I can play at the same level with everyone. I have matured as a person. The other reason for my success is my relationship to my coach Salvador Navarro,” said Pennetta.

Pennetta has always seen as a positive example in Italian sport. “I would like to become a positive model for Italian people and give energy to those who are getting through difficult times. I want to show them that it is important not to give up”, said Pennetta.

 

 

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Serena Williams Named Most Stylish Athlete Of 2019 As She Brushes Off Critics

The 37-year-old says she ‘doesn’t care’ about what people think about what she wears.

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23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has been awarded with another accolade in her record-breaking career.

 

The 37-year-old has come top in this year’s Most Fashionable list by Sports Illustrated in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers In America. The honour recognizes athletes who have stood out from the crowd with what they wear. Those who make the shortlist are selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers across the sports and fashion industries.

“My whole career has been really about tennis and fashion. I always try to make a statement when I walk out on the court—to be bold and to be unique and to kind of transcend. I always try to send the message of just being confident and being fierce.” Williams told Sports Illustrated.

Williams has made headlines on the court for the outfits she wears. After wearing a catsuit at last year’s French Open, she opted for a more straightforward design in this year’s tournament. Wearing a zebra-striped outfit decorated with the words ‘mother, champion, queen, goddess’ in French. It was designed by Virgil Abloh, who was named in Time’s 100 most influential people in the world back in 2018. At Wimbledon, the Nike tick on her all-white clothing was made up of 34 Swarovski ® crystals to mark the last time she won the title at the age of 34.

The fashion sense of the American wasn’t a hit with everybody. Her catsuit triggered criticism from the head of the French Tennis Federation. Bernard Giudicelli told France’s Tennis Magazine in 2017 ‘I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.’ Williams later played down those comments.

“People always have things to say when you’re wearing fashion. It could be good things. It could be bad things. I don’t care what people say. I’m like just so past it—you could say whatever you want to say.” She said.
“Honestly, you’re allowed to have your opinion. My life is far too complicated to worry about people that want to say mean things. I have a daughter, I have a family, I have a career. I have too much to worry about.”

Williams recently finished runner-up at Wimbledon after losing to Simona Halep in the final. She is set to play at both the Rogers Cup in Canada and Cincinnati Open before the next grand slam tournament.

Note: video embedded from si.com.

 

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US Open Set To Bypass Age Eligibility Policy To Hand Cori Gauff Wildcard

The New York Grand Slam has confirmed that they will likely bend the rules in order for the teenage star to play in the main draw.

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Cori Gauff was the talk of Wimbledon and now the US Open have said they are willing to make an exception to their own policy in order for the teenager to play in the main draw of their tournament.

 

The 15-year-old American stunned the women’s tour with her run at the All England Club. Becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to successfully come through three rounds of qualifying. Then in the main draw Gauff knocked-out five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round. She also scored wins over Polona Hercog and Magdalena Rabrikova to reach the fourth round. Becoming the youngest player to reach the second week of a major since Jennifer Capriati at the 1991 Wimbledon championships. Gauff’s run was eventually ended by Simona Halep, who went on to win the title.

Now ranked 141st in the world, the rising star is currently limited to how many tournaments she can play in accordance with the WTA’s age-eligibility rule. A policy put in place to prevent early burnout for players. It is a rule that is also followed by the United States Tennis Association, who runs the US Open.

At present Gauff isn’t eligible for any more wild cards in 2019 after already using her three allotted ones. Doing so in the Miami Open, French Open qualifiers and Wimbledon qualifiers. Chris Widmaier, who is the director of communications for the USTA, has told The New York Post that he expects Gauff to receive a pass for the upcoming grand slam. Confirming that it is likely that she will be given a special exemption from the policy.

“We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open,’’ said Widmaier. “She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance. It’s not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk.‘’

The WTA has also said that they will not stand in the way of the USTA if they wish to bend the rules. Under the Rule Gauff is allowed to play a maximum of 10 tournaments between her 15th and 16th birthdays. Plus one of the two year-end tournaments if she qualifies and the Fed Cup.

“The US Open, as a Grand Slam, reserves the right to not align with the Age Eligibility Rule and offer a player a Wild Card in excess of her limit per the Age Eligibility Rule,’’ a WTA spokesperson told the NY Post.

A series of players have urged the WTA to make changes to their policy regarding young players in light of Gauff’s rapid rise. One of the most notable is Roger Federer, who is the co-founder of the Team8 management company that represents Gauff.

“I understand the rule completely that they want the young players not to play too much,” he said. “I’ve told the WTA they should loosen up the rules. I loved seeing [Martina] Hingis doing what she did at a young age.”

It is unclear if the WTA will be making any changes in the near future.

The US Open will get underway on August 26th.

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The Women’s Stats Leaders Of Wimbledon 2019

Although Simona Halep won Wimbledon, it was Serena Williams who dominated most of the stats at this year’s tournament.

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Simona Halep (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

As the third grand slam of the year concludes, let’s reflect on who the stats leaders at Wimbledon in the Women’s tournament. 

 

The Women’s tournament once again provided many shocks, unpredictable results, storylines and great champions rising to the top.

But in the end it was Simona Halep who won her second grand slam and first Wimbledon title as she demolished Serena Williams in the final.

As the tournament has now ended let’s break the tournament down and see how the Women’s tournament reflected overall in terms of Quality.

Most Aces

Serena Williams reached another Wimbledon final this year and her serve was the key to reaching the second Saturday as she dominated most of her opponents.

Although Simona Halep may have figured her service patterns, her previous six opponents didn’t as she topped the aces chart.

  1. Serena Williams – 47
  2. Karolina Pliskova – 36
  3. Karolina Muchova – 29
  4. Johanna Konta – 28
  5. Ashleigh Barty – 26

Double Faults

Although both Dayana Yastremska and Alison Riske made the second week of this year’s Wimbledon, both Women topped the double faults tally.

  1. Dayana Yastremska – 26
  2. Alison Riske – 25
  3. Kristina Mladenovic – 19
  4. Kaia Kanepi – 17
  5. Cori Gauff – 15

Fastest Serve (MPH)

Serena once again topped this particular statistic although 15 year-old rising sensation Cori Gauff came close en route to the fourth round.

  1. Serena Williams – 122
  2. Polona Hercog – 120
  3. Cori Gauff – 119
  4. Venus Williams, Petra Martic, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka – 118

Longest Match

Karolina Muchova’s surprise win over Karolina Pliskova was the longest match of the Women’s tournament and the closes to a 12-12 tiebreak.

  1. Karolina Muchova def Karolina Pliskova – 3 hours and 17 minutes
  2. Alison Risek def Ivana Jorovic – 2 hours and 50 minutes
  3. Elise Mertens def Qiang Wang – 2 hours and 49 minutes
  4. Cori Gauff def Polona Hercog – 2 hours and 47 minutes
  5. Monica Puig def Anna Karolina Schmiedlova – 2 hours and 35 minutes

The Most Serve and Volley In Their Game 

One of the reasons why Barbora Strycova made the semi-finals of the singles and became the new doubles world number one, was her ability to serve and volley, which is why she tops this particular chart.

  1. Barbora Strycova – 19% (69/366)
  2. Kirsten Flipkens – 14% (16/118)
  3. Taylor Townsend – 11% (17/153)
  4. Andrea Petkovic – 10% (9/91)
  5. Laura Siegemund – 9% (13/169)

Most Return Winners

Dayana Yastremska and Serena Williams top this stat as they made their opponents pay for any average serves coming their way.

  1. Dayana Yastremska – 25
  2. Serena Williams – 17
  3. Petra Kvitova – 12
  4. Shuai Zhang – 12
  5. Amanda Anisimova, Karolina Pliskova, Karolina Muchova and Alison Riske – 10

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