When Tradition Clashes With Reality At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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Grand Slam

When Tradition Clashes With Reality At Wimbledon

What will happen in the future at The All England Club?

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How different would the men’s final have been if Novak Djokovic finished his match on Friday and Kevin Anderson didn’t play for more than six-and-a-half hours?

 

The answer to that question is one nobody will know. Not to say that the outcome would have been any different at The All England Club. One of the most unique things about the tournament is their proud traditions. Including making players wear white based on the Victorian era when the public believed white clothing was the best way to hide sweat marks. But what happens when the traditions draws criticism?

Going into the later stages of the men’s tournament, many questioned the current structure of the matches. In the fifth set, there is no tiebreak. Consequently resulting in a rare occurrence at The All England club with two marathon semi-final matches. Kevin Anderson outlasted John Isner 26-24 after more than six hours on the court. Meanwhile, Djokovic needed more than five hours to see off Rafael Nadal.

“I just hope the slams can also at least look at it and have an open conversation about it.” Anderson said following the men’s final.
“I think it’s at least a conversation worth having both just protecting players’ health when you have these very long matches. But, I honestly don’t know where it exactly will go from that.
“I guess my hope is just to have a conversation about it.”

Eight years ago the same debate erupted. That was triggered by John Isner’s gut-busting three-day win over Nicolas Mahut, which he prevailed 70-68 in the decider. Making it the longest match of all time. Interestingly, the debate surrounding the use of a decisive tiebreaker wasn’t so intense. In fact, when Isner was asked if he supported the motion, he replied ‘No, I think you should play it out.’

Isner’s response back in 2010 was a sharp contrast to Friday. Where he openly endorsed the motion.

“I personally think a sensible option would be 12-all,” he said. “If one person can’t finish the other off before 12-all, then do a tiebreaker there. I think it’s long overdue.”

The two comments seemed like nothing to begin with, until you look at it in detail. Tennis players are some of the fittest athletes in the world, but they are also human. It is inevitable that the older they get, the quicker they would want matches to end. Roger Federer has previously admitted that it takes him longer to recover from matches.

This is why one of Wimbledon’s best-known traditions needs to be looked at. It doesn’t take into the reality of the tour. In the modern game, more players are playing later into their career. Highlighted by the fact there are 37 players in the top 100 over the age of 30.

“I think if I asked most players, they wouldn’t be opposed to incorporating a fifth-set breaker.” States Anderson, who is a member of the ATP player council.
“ I’m sure there’s a few people that embrace the history, that you do play long sets. It is a unique point. I definitely agree with that.
“But I think just as tennis continues to evolve and just sports in general, I think the incredibly long matches maybe has had its place and time.”

There has been few discussions about if the latest series of marathon matches will have any impact on a future rule change. The current position of The All England Club goes along the line of ‘it will be discussed’ during one of their meetings. Quoting member Tim Henman, who spoke about the subject whilst commentating for the BBC.

Trying to find the right balance in a tournament built on history and tradition is never easy. Wimbledon chief Richard Lewis recently said that it was ‘likely’ that shot clocks will be implemented in the future. A sign the tournament is reluctantly trying to keep up with the times whilst trying to please traditionalists.

There may be uproar about how fifth sets are played at SW19, but this doesn’t mean that the rules will be changed anytime soon. After all, a 665-minute match had little impact back in 2010. The only change will be if more players speak out. Until then, expect five-set marathons to stay.

Grand Slam

Na-Lae Han, Tatsuma Ito Clinch Australian Open Wildcards

With just over a month to go, wildcards for the first grand slam of 2020 have already been decided.

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Han Na-Lae (image via wtatennis.com)

South Korean player Na-Lae Han is set to make her grand slam debut at the Australian Open next month after winning the Asia-Pacific playoff tournament in Zhuhai, China.

 

The 27-year-old, who was the top seed in the tournament, downed Ayano Shimizu 6-2 6-2 in the final to secure her spot in Melbourne. Han is currently ranked 182nd in the world and has won a trio of ITF $25,000 titles this season. She is currently the only player from her country to be ranked inside the top 300 on the WTA Tour.

“It’s the first time I played Ayano. I am really happy to win the championship and to capture the wildcard,” Han told Tennis Australia.

Han was hoping for double success after also taking part in the doubles draw alongside compatriot Choi Ji-hee. However, the duo lost in the semi-finals. Han won her first and so far only WTA title at the 2018 Korean Open in the doubles with Choi. The wildcard was secured by the Chinese Taipei pairing of Ya-Hsuan Lee and Fang-Hsien Wu.

In the men’s tournament Japan’s Tatsuma Ito upset top seed Jason Jung 7-5, 6-4, to seal his place. 31-year-old Ito has been ranked as high as 60th in the world and will be playing in the main draw of the Australian Open for the sixth time in his career. However, he last won a match in the tournament back in 2013. This year he reached the main draw after coming through qualifying, but lost in the first round to Dan Evans.

“I really enjoyed this moment” said Ito after his win. “I moved through into the main draw after qualifying this year. It was very tough for me and my body. It will easier next year (smiling).”

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song won the men’s doubles title. Meanwhile, China had a clean sweep in the junior competitions with Xiaofei Wang and Fangran Tian winning their events.

This year’s playoffs have been branded as a success by tournament director Isabelle Gemmel. It is the eighth consecutive year the tournament has taken place, which aim to promote top-level tennis in the region.

“Na-Lae Han was undefeated all week and Tatsuma Ito overcame a couple of tough matches to win the all-important main draw wildcard.” Said Gemmel.
“With two new countries, Korea and Japan, winning for the first time in singles, it underlines how the Asia-Pacific wildcard playoff has established itself as a key tournament in its own right and how valued it is in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The 2020 Australian Open will get underway on January 20th.

List of winners

MEN’S SINGLES: Tatsuma Ito (JPN)

WOMEN’S SINGLES: Na-Lae Han (KOR)

MEN’S DOUBLES: Ji Sung Nam and Minkyu Song (KOR)

WOMEN’S DOUBLES: Ya-Hsuan Lee and Fang-Hsien Wu (TPE)

BOYS’ SINGLES: Xiaofei Wang (CHN)

GIRLS’ SINGLES: Fangran Tian (CHN)

 

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Grand Slam

Margaret Court’s Tennis To Be Celebrated At Australian Open But Not Her Politics

Margaret Court will be invited to the Australian Open this year despite her political views.

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Margaret Court(@shopworldoffers - Twitter)

Tennis Australia will be celebrating Margaret Court’s tennis at the Australian Open in January but not her politics. 

 

Margaret Court has won 24 grand slam singles titles, the most of any female player in history as of now, and has been invited to celebrate 50 years since winning one of 11 Australian Open titles.

That year, she would also win all four grand slam titles, marking a historic year for Court in the context of her tennis career.

But for many Australians and people around the world that is not the way she is being remembered lately as it’s her politics that are taking over.

Just before the Gay Marriage Referendum vote in 2018, Margaret Court expressed her rather hateful views towards the LGBTQ community, calling transgender children the work of “the devil.”

Furthermore she claimed that tennis was full of lesbians, “Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties,” Court told Vision Christian Radio in 2017.

Those views have been criticised by many with the likes of Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova wanting her name stripped from the second biggest court at the Australian Open.

Now, a couple of years later after much debate, Court will be invited to the Australian Open for her incredible achievement 50 years ago as Tennis Australia announced today.

The Australian was thrilled to hear the truce given by Tennis Australia, “This is an incredible milestone for me, and I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone. It’s always wonderful to catch up with my fellow legends and I’m grateful to Tennis Australia,” Court said in Tennis Australia’s press release.

During the event a special documentary of Court reflecting back on that achievement will be released as well as this there will be in-stadium entertainment celebrating the event as well as a legends lunch.

But once again Tennis Australia once again distanced themselves from Court’s political views as they stated in their press release, “As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years,” Tennis Australia said.

“They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion. Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.

“#Open4All encompasses events such as the Glam Slam, an international LGBTQI tournament that has been held at the Australian Open for the past few years, and will be back for AO 2020.

“We have also hosted events for the National Inclusion Conference and have ongoing working relationships with the Pride in Sport Index and Stand Up Events. A full program of #Open4All events at Australian Open 2020 will be released in the coming weeks.

“The Australian Open is for everyone, and we look forward to welcoming the world to Melbourne in January 2020.”

Although, Court will continue to cause controversy especially considering Tennis Australia’s ‘tale of two halves’ press release.

The Australian will hope that it will be her tennis that will be remembered in January, but it won’t be a smooth ride on the road to being appreciated.

 

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Grand Slam

Tennis Australia Face Calls To Honour Margaret Court In 2020 Amid Potential Backlash

The 77-year-old is regarded as one of her country’s greatest-ever tennis players, but has been criticised for a series of homophobic comments she has made.

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Controversial tennis legend Margaret Court has said she wants to be treated the same as fellow former great Rod Laver concerning the upcoming anniversary of one of the biggest milestones she has ever achieved in her career.

 

2020 will mark 50 years since Court won all four grand slam titles within the same season. An elusive achievement in the world of tennis. Only three women in total have managed to complete a calendar grand slam – Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) are the others. Court also still holds the record for the most grand slam singles titles ever won by a tennis player at 24. One ahead of Serena Williams.

Court said she has received no contact from Tennis Australia regarding any plans to mark her milestone. Laver, who is the only man to ever complete the calendar grand slam twice, was honoured this year for his accomplishment. It is the 50th anniversary of when he claimed the four major trophies back in 1969.

“I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me (about the anniversary),” Court told Nine News Australia.
“They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
“They brought Rod in from America. If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don’t really want to come.”

Any move to honour Court at the Australian Open in January is likely to split opinion. The 77-year-old has been criticised for a series of homophobic remarks she has made for many years. In 1990 she once said that Martina Navratilova was a bad role model for children because she is gay. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, she said in another interview in 2017 that tennis was ‘full of lesbians’ and those who identify as transgender were ‘the work of the devil.’ In another incident, Court wrote a comment to an Australian newspaper is which she said took a swipe at former player Casey Dellacqua after she announced the birth of her child. Dellacqua is in a same-sex relationship.

There have been calls for Court’s name to be removed from one of the premier stadiums at the Australian Open in light of hew views. Billie Jean King, who is one of the founding members of the WTA, has previously called for the arena to be renamed.

“I don’t feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career,” Court told The Sydney Morning Herald about calls for her name being removed. “It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong.
“Many gay people think my name shouldn’t come off it. There are many gay people who don’t believe in gay marriage. They know that marriage is between a man and a woman and they will say that. Then you get the radicals coming at me, you have got these minority groups in every area now having a say and taking on nations and taking on big companies.”

Whilst her comments have triggered controversy, Court has insisted that she has nothing against gay people. Claiming she has members of the LGBT community attend her church. Following retirement from tennis, Court became a Christian pastor.

“I have gay people in the church. It is nothing against the people themselves, I just said what the Bible said. If I can’t say what the Bible says, there is something wrong.”

The ball is now very much in the court of Tennis Australia, who oversees the running of the Melbourne major. Although coming to a decision will not be easy. In June they were named as one of the best sporting organisations for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in the annual Pride Sport Awards in Melbourne.

“As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.” A statement from Tennis Australia reads.

During her career Court won 140 titles in the Open Era (1968 onwards). 92 of those were in singles and 48 were in doubles. At the 1963 Australian Open and 1970 US Open she won all three titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

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