A day at the Australian Open through the eyes of a child - UBITENNIS
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A day at the Australian Open through the eyes of a child

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From Melbourne Beatrice (and Robbie) Cappuccio

 

It is Saturday, and mom and daddy took me – as it happens for 8 years now – to the Australian Open (the ground pass for children costs $5). It’s  family friendly event  and there are many things to do and see other than tennis (which I like, but – I confess – I am not super duper crazy about). We alight the tram at Federation Square, where there is a giant screen and beach chairs provided free of charge, and lots of people watching the games from there.

Federation Square with mega screen for the Australian Open

Federation Square with mega screen for the Australian Open

Since we have tickets we continue along the Yarra (Melbourne River) to Melbourne Park. There are many stands by the sponsors and games for children. Daddy though wants to get to the court asap: we quickly reach the check point and take the pedestrian bridge that has just been built and that takes us – after passing an area where they play live music – straight to the Margaret Court Arena, one of the three stadiums with retractable roof, so even if it rains you can keep on playing.

The Margaret Court Arena from the pedestrian bridge

The Margaret Court Arena from the pedestrian bridge

Daddy takes me to see where they string the racquets: they are so good and so fast. They just did those of Nadal, who is playing this afternoon, and Kyrgios, who has lost the other day and is out of the tournament, so I do not know why he needs the racquet. Daddy says he has immense talent but has a “fixed mindset” rather than a “growth mindset”. I have no idea what he means, but I say I agree. (If interested in learning more about fixed and growth mindset, read the excellent book by Carol Dweck).

Kyrgios' and Nadal's racquest restrung

Kyrgios’ and Nadal’s racquest restrung

There’s a lot of people, but we already know where to go: the new children’s playground called The Ballpark, where there is a whole Lego area, trampolines, gymkhana, climbing walls, an area battle by shooting foam balls, and then – of course – mini tennis courts.

Kids club at the Australian Open

Kids club at the Australian Open

After an hour or two, I reach daddy who is watching the junior tournament, which started today. Dad likes to watch it because you may see tomorrow’s stars. Over the years we have seen Pliskova, Kyrgios, Ana Konjuh, Zverev. It sounds strange – but maybe it is not – that the first two seeds of the boys’ tournament are Chinese an Taiwanese. Wu (Chinese, # 1) was playing today, but did not really impressed me.

Watching the top seed Wu of China

Watching the top seed Wu of China

While the juniors Ferguson (Aus) and Frinzi (Ita) were playing on court 19, Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber were practicing right next door, with heaps of people watching. I also tried to take the autograph but I am too little and could not make it through. I did not even try later with Federer, because when Roger practices there are hundreds to huddling around the court; also daddy has often played on the same court, but he told me that no, he has never played  Federer. Too bad. It is nice though to be at a stone’s throw (or ball’s throw) from such champions. I also saw Ferrer, then Mladenovic, and even Nihikori. It was packed with Japanese people for Nishikori, whereas Mladenovic had mostly men watching. Go figure.

Kristina Mladenovic practicing at the Australian Open

Kristina Mladenovic practicing at the Australian Open

The sky, which was cloudy this morning, becomes sunny and it gets hot if you are not in the shade. Not hot to having to use the station that sprays icy air (I love it), but I need to put a lot of sunscreen because Aussie sun eats you alive because of the ozone hole. It’s time for lunch and we go to the grand slam oval, which divided into 4 zones: Melbourne Gardens, Paris Quarter, NY Streets and The English Club, recalling the four grand slam tournaments. It’s very crowded, with people with painted faces wearing improbable 70’s tennis attire, and there are even ladies dressed as tennis balls.

Eng_club Tennis_ball oval

And then there are all the stands of the sponsors with freebies and giveaways to fill bags, which then you come home and wonder: what am I going to do with this stuff? Anyway, I get the face painting, with a butterfly around the eye and a tennis racquet on myarm. Another stop at the Ballpark, but then there are no more excuses: I have to watch a bit of tennis. I head to Show Court 2, where there is Istomin, who defeated Djokovic the other day, against a Spaniard: Carreno Busta. Ugh that was boring: these two go on and on with super long rallies and nothing happens.

bored

Every now and then there is a Mexican wave going on and at least that keeps me awake. During the fifth set the ball dances on the net and decides to drop in the Spaniard’s side. Tennis is like this: a moment, just one point, and the match can turn. From 2 all Istomin flies, so to speak (this match never ends) and wins 6-2 at the fifth set.

Time to go home. It’s 9:30PM now, and I’m exhausted because I am only 8 years old, but there is Dasha Gavrilova on TV: we often meet her at the supermarket and she is very nice, and her trainer is Stefano Barsacchi, so I’ll watch the match a little bit …. zzzzzzz.

Grand Slam

Wimbledon Set To Change Historic All-White Dress Code Rule

The clothing policy at the the grass-court major, which dates back to the Vcitoria era, has been under increasing scruity in recent years.

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Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 3 Wednesday 30/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

It is understood that The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) are having discussions about making changes to its dress code following concerns from female players. 

 

The Telegraph is among a series of sources to report that organizers are speaking with the WTA about changing their policy to address players’ concerns about playing in white whilst going through their menstrual cycle. Whilst no official announcement has been made, it is underwood that there will be a relaxation on what colour underwear and bras are worn. Although the top layer of clothing must remain completely white. 

During this year’s championships, there was a protest shortly before the women’s finals called ‘Address The Dress Code.’ During an interview worth The Guardian, protesters said they wanted to highlight the anxiety women face whilst playing in their whites. 

More recently, tennis coach and former British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray told The Daily Mail that more players needed to speak out on the issue to drive a change to the policy. Murray, who is the mother of three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, has also called for the inclusion of women in the decision-making panel when it comes to these matters. 

“One of the biggest problems previously in sport was that it was always white shorts, white kit and so on in lots of different sports. Everything was white. Nearly all sports have moved over to colour now.” Said Murray. 

“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point, but it would probably need more of the players to speak out openly about the trauma it can cause you, if you are wearing all white and then possibly have a leak while you’re playing. I cannot think of a much more traumatic experience than that.”

In a statement sent to The Telegraph, the AELTC confirmed that they are currently looking into making adjustments to the dress code. As it currently stands, the rule states that all players must wear almost all white whilst playing and practising at the Grand Slam. However, around the neckline and the cuff of sleeves can be in colour but no thicker than 1cm. The same applies to Caps (including the underbill), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks. 

“Prioritising women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that.” The AELTC said. 

The all-white policy can be traced back to the 1870s when it was widely considered that white was best at not showing sweat. During the Victorian era, it was viewed as improper to visibly sweat. The tournament has since continued with this tradition. 

Next year’s Wimbledon will begin on Monday, July 3rd. 

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Nick Kyrgios Urges Officials To Allow Djokovic To Play Australian Open

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Nick Kyrgios has lent his full support to Novak Djokovic and his bid to be allowed to return to the Australian Open next year. 

 

Nine-time champion Djokovic is currently waiting to see if government officials will waive his ban from entering the country. Earlier this year, the former world No.1 was deported from Australia following a high-profile dispute regarding the legality of his visa. Djokovic said he was told by Tennis Australia that a medical exemption would allow him entry into the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Something the border force and government deemed not to be a legitimate reason. After winning his first court case regarding the process of how his detention was handled, a second at the High Court ruled in favour of the government, who decided to deport him. 

Under Australian law, deportations such as these result in a three-year ban from returning to the country. However, Djokovic is hoping his ban will be removed by the latest administration who are said to be more sympathetic to the matter. 

Weighing in on the debate during the opening of the NBA store in Sydney, Kyrgios said it was important for the sport that the best players participate. Citing the recent retirement of Roger Federer, he argues that the remaining members of the Big Three must continue showing their presence at major events. 

I hope he is here, for the sport,” WAtoday quoted Kyrgios as saying.
“We just saw one of the legends leave the sport, Roger, and that’s going to be some shoes that no one is ever going to be able to fill.
“While Novak and Rafa [Rafael Nadal] are still around, we need these types of players. Otherwise, the people of Australia love the AO, Ash Barty brought us crowds, me and Thanasi [Kokkinakis] won it.
“We want to see the best players in the world there. Me being a competitor, I want to see Novak there.“

Djokovic’s potential presence at Melbourne Park would make him one of the key contenders for the title and could make it tougher for Kyrgios to claim his first Grand Slam title. The two locked horns in the final of Wimbledon earlier this year with Kyrgios claiming the first set before losing in four. 

“Of course, you want to have those guys there,” he said.
“He’s some of the reason why I play. As a kid, you want to play the best players in the world in the best stadiums. Hopefully, he is there.
“He’s had a rough run the last nine months and not being able to play here, play here, not being able to play here, hopefully, Australia welcomes him with open arms this time.”

Djokovic has won the Australian Open men’s title more times than anybody else in history. It is unclear when a final decision regarding his participation in the 2023 tournament will be made. 

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‘Unofficial’ Signs Give Novak Djokovic Hope Of Australian Open Return

The tennis star has given an update on his chances of returning to Melbourne Park following his deportation from the country.

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

Novak Djokovic says he is cautiously optimistic that he will be allowed to play at the 2023 Australian Open as legal negotiations continue. 

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion was deported from the country in January following a high-profile legal battle with authorities over his visa. Djokovic said he was told he could use a medical exemption to enter the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. At the time all arrivals needed to be vaccinated. The Australian border Force declared that exemption to be invalid and therefore his visa. Djokovic was then moved to an immigration facility before winning a court hearing over how his case was handled. However, in a second legal hearing, the High Court backed the government’s decision to deport the tennis star. 

As a result of being removed from Australia, Djokovic is currently banned from re-entering for three years. However, there is hope that this ban could be waived with the help of a new administration coming to power which is understood to be more sympathetic to the situation. 

“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” Djokovic said during a recent interview with Sportal“We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case. I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.”

Not everybody is thrilled by the prospect of the Serbian being allowed back into Australia. Former Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews has previously described such a move as a ‘slap in the face for those in Australia who did the right thing and got vaccinated.’ 

Djokovic is still not vaccinated against COVID-19 and has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t intend on doing so. In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, he explained that he had reservations about what is injected into his body and was cautious about the side effects. The COVID-19 injection has been deemed safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“I respect that everyone has a different way of thinking in relation to my situation and my circumstances. After all, I have never offended anyone or ever tried to be disrespectful in any way. I always tried to show that it is important for everyone to have the right and freedom of choice.” He said. 
“For the choices I made, I knew there would be certain consequences like not going to America, and that is it. For Australia it was a different case, I had the exception, but in the end it did not work out. We know what happened, let’s not go back. This time I am waiting for the permission again. It is a good thing that they have now opened the borders for unvaccinated foreigners travelling to Australia. I have that ban, I hope it will be lifted. As I said, it is not in my hands, I hope the people in the Australian Government will give a positive answer, that is all.”

Djokovic is the most decorated male tennis player in Australian Open history with nine titles to his name. That is three more than his nearest challenges (Roy Emerson and Roger Federer both won the event six times). It was at Melbourne Park where he won his first major title back in 2008. 

“I really want to go there, I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best. Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more, so. I am hoping for a positive answer.” He concluded. 

The Australian Open will start on January 16th. It is unknown when a final decision regarding Djokovic’s participation will be made. 

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