Mixed Messages Over Social Justice Leaves Question Marks Over Tennis Unity - UBITENNIS
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Mixed Messages Over Social Justice Leaves Question Marks Over Tennis Unity

Naomi Osaka lead the charge for social justice but tennis’ mixed messages seem to raise more questions than answers.

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Naomi Osaka (@BleacherReport - Twitter)

Recent mixed messages over social justice in tennis have left more questions than answers in regards to tennis’ call for unity.

 

It was on Thursday, where the sporting world made their stance clear in regards to how important social justice and inequality is.

First the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA boycotted a few days of play after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, 35 minutes away from where the Bucks play.

Then baseball and other major American sports organisations made their stance clear by following the NBA’s example.

Finally we get to tennis, where Naomi Osaka decided to boycott her Western and Southern Open semi-final as her and Coco Gauff have refused to remain silent on how important social justice is and sharing the message that black people’s lives do indeed matter.

What followed was beyond Osaka’s wildest dreams as the ATP and WTA united in joining the world number 10’s boycott and paused play for the day.

It was an unexpected and a perfect scenario for Osaka as she said after her eventual semi-final win yesterday over Elise Mertens, “I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. Then I got a call from Steve Simon and he said he was really supportive.,” Osaka was quoted as saying by Courtney Nguyen.

“My one thing I didn’t want people to blame me for the one day break if it messed up their schedule. But everyone I talked to was really supportive.”

This was now Tennis’ chance to lead by example and show the world that tennis is taking social justice seriously. The US Open followed by showing a video of the importance of black tennis players in the past.

However Tennis’ united stance did not last long as during yesterday’s press conferences with Naomi Osaka, Elise Mertens and Victoria Azarenka, WTA’s moderator reiterated that questions should stick with tennis.

A disappointing setback, with that same tone seem to be missing when other issues have been brought up in previous press conferences such as the Belarus protests.

In addition, Victoria Azarenka refused to answer the question about tennis’ pause to celebrate social justice with also there being speculation that the male tennis players were not best pleased that tennis was paused for a day without their consultation.

This latest obstacle shows that tennis is more divided than ever before with Naomi Osaka’s hopes of long-term longevity fading pretty quickly.

Now ahead of Novak Djokovic’s and Vasek Posipisil’s players association, that may not include women, there seems to be no united way forward.

A few months ago Roger Federer’s idea of an ATP-WTA merger received a positive reaction from WTA’s players as they looked to negotiate equal pay at all events amongst other potential obstacles ahead of a big move in tennis.

Now, ahead of the US Open, the players and tennis governing bodies seem more split than before on tennis’s direction on the future of the sport and it’s position on social issues.

Naomi Osaka made her voice known on Thursday through her actions and was hoping that her colleagues would back her up for the long term.

Her colleagues supported her through their words but not through their actions. Now tennis has more problems to solve and more questions to answer.

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PTPA Outline Vision After Appointing Executive Director And Advisory Board

The PTPA has announced a new executive director and advisory board.

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The Professional Tennis Players Association has outlined their vision for the future after appointing an advisory board and an executive director.

 

Vasek Pospisil made the announcement last night as he and Novak Djokovic look to secure a legitimate players voice at the tennis political table.

In the main core of the statement they announced the make-up of the PTPA’s backroom board, “PTPA co-founders Vasek Pospisil and Novak Djokovic have named Adam Larry executive director, enlisted Carrie Gerlach Cecil to lead Brand and Communications and appointed Bill Ackman, Michael Hirshfeld, Rebecca Macdonald, Katarina Pijetlovic and Anton Rabie to its Advisory Board,” the statement read.

“Created by the players for the players, the PTPA is an integrated association for professional tennis players. The PTPA movement is uniting and mobilizing tennis players in order to create transparency and fairness throughout decision-making in professional tennis.”

The move is an interesting one as up until now it was a mystery as to what the PTPA’s strategy was and who was involved so far with there being no idea from the ATP or WTA’s side what the PTPA was trying to achieve.

Now there is an advisory board there may be sharp movement and progress made into how the PTPA can secure more player-related decisions in Tennis and ensure that there is a level playing-field in terms of decisions affecting the players.

In the statement Vasek Pospisil, Novak Djokovic and new executive director Adam Larry all gave strong hints about the PTPA’s future vision as they look to challenge the establishment in providing change for tennis.

“With the establishment of our advisory board, our branding and communications team and the appointment of Adam Larry as executive director, we have taken one step closer to toward our goal of facilitating a fair and sustainable competitive environment for tennis players today, and for generations to come,” Pospisil said.

“We are working toward growth to help all players, not just the top 100, to make sustainable livelihoods and have their rights protected on and off the court. From top to bottom, we must use our collective voices to help players today and tomorrow,” stated world number one Novak Djokovic.

“The PTPA wants to work with all of the tennis governing bodies to inspire collective reform to better the sport,” new executive director Adam Larry claimed.

What comes next for the PTPA nobody knows but this new board means that business is expected to pick up very quickly in the latest twist in the political tennis game.

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Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice

The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.

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This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.

 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.

Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.

“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.

As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.

“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”

Del Potro’s comeback delayed again

There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.

However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.

Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.

Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.

RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

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Victoria Azarenka And Amanda Anisimova Advance In Bad Homburg

Victoria Azarenka continued her momentum towards Wimbledon.

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Victoria Azarenka (@24NewsHD - Twitter)

Victoria Azarenka and Amanda Anisimova both cruised into the second round as they prepare for Wimbledon.

 

Starting with two time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka who enters this week after winning the doubles title with Aryna Sabalenka in Berlin.

Azarenka continued her momentum with a 7-5 6-0 win over compatriot Yuliya Hatouka.

The world number 14 struggled in rainy conditions in Germany in the first set as she was broken three times in the first set.

It was a tough start from Azarenka who couldn’t consistently blast past the world number 271.

In the end Azarenka saved some break points and broke in her following two return games to seal the opening set in 53 minutes.

However the second set was much easier as she didn’t concede a single break point and won all six games.

Azarenka will now play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Meanwhile 19 year-old Amanda Anisimova is looking for a good grass court season after crashing down to 81st in the world.

The American sealed a 6-1 7-5 win over German veteran Andrea Petkovic as she moved into the last eight.

Anisimova produced a high-quality first set as she stormed into a 4-0 lead in the opening set.

After sealing the opening set in 24 minutes, Anisimova continued the momentum by breaking in the opening game of the second set.

However Petkovic has shown good performances on a grass court in the past and she remained resilient to break back for 4-4.

Despite that setback, the American broke in the eleventh game and closed out the match to love.

Anisimova will play Angelique Kerber or Anna Blinkova next.

In other results Katerina Siniakova edged past Jessica Pegula 6-3 5-7 6-4 and will meet Laura Siegemund in the quarter-finals.

Siegemund booked her place in the last eight with a 6-2 6-2 win over Tamara Korpatsch.

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