Thursday, April 27, 2017

Kim Clijsters says Maria Sharapova has been punished enough

Despite rivals' chorus of disapproval, former star says Sharapova has served her time.

If the dipping temperatures in Stuttgart, looking to turn icy in the coming days, are getting to Maria Sharapova a little more than others, she can hardly be blamed.

After all, more of her peers on the professional women's tennis tour have publicly disagreed with the concept of her getting a wild card into tournaments than those who spoke out in her defence.

But the Russian, who returns to competition today at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix following a 15-month doping ban, can at least count on some warmth from Kim Clijsters, a former rival who has exchanged several steely stares with her across the net before.

As far as the Belgian is concerned, Sharapova - who tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open - has paid her dues.

Said the former world No. 1, who is in Germany as a legend ambassador for the Oct 22-29 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore: "(Sharapova) has done her time, and she's done her punishment.

"I was disappointed and surprised when the news came out, but now she's done her punishment and she's starting her career with zero ranking. She has to build her way up anyway."

Clijsters struck a different tune from many active players on tour.

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki have been among the most vocal, objecting to tournament organisers handing Sharapova a way into tournaments. The Russian no longer has a ranking and is dependent on wild cards to compete at WTA events.

The 30-year-old tennis star with five Grand Slam titles will also be playing in Madrid and Rome. She opens her campaign against Italian Roberta Vinci, an opponent she has not lost to in two meetings so far. It will be the first time the Russian is allowed on-site at the Porsche Arena.

Clijsters' more forgiving stance, perhaps, stems from a unique perspective as former player and official. The 33-year-old was tournament director of a WTA tournament in Antwerp in 2015.

Said Clijsters: "Having been both sides, as a tournament director and as a player, it's up to the tournament whether they want to give a wild card or not.

"She still has all the Grand Slams that she's won, she's still the name. I assume for sponsors, spectators, especially in this situation, everyone wants to see how well she will do.

"It's a tough situation for Maria to be in. All eyes will be on her. I'm sure it was really tough for her to be on the sidelines for that long. She's had the career that she's had - and I don't think she needs to be punished more because of 'the reason'," added the four-time Grand Slam champion.

"In a week's time, this news will be over and she will be back on tour, maybe playing some of her best tennis. I'm excited to watch her play... I'm interested to see, just like everyone else is, to see how she will do."

Interesting, but I'm also not surprised that Kim is supportive, she's always been one of the nicest, and most level headed players on the WTA Tour. 

I also find it interesting that Maris is getting so much flack (even though I do tend to agree with it to an extant).  

But I don't recall Martina Hingis having the same problem. Granted hers was a completely different case in that it was not a performance enhancing drug, and she was away a lot longer (2 full years), but still. I don't recall her getting a lot of complaints from players on receiving wild cards. 

It could also be that Martina is mostly a doubles specialists these days, but she did have as high a profile and still does, if not higher as Sharapova and clearly people have forgiven her. 

It's just something that has been on mind with Sharapova's return to the tour this week. 

I also find it unfair, that when male tennis athletes get caught for doping it's never as hot a topic, and certainly never seems as highly covered by the main stream media.  

Usually it's jut a blurb or a highlight on the news.  It's so sad how there's still such a sexist double standard when it comes to elite female athletes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kim Clijsters new legend ambassador for WTA finals in Singapore

STUTTGART (Germany) - Former world No. 1 tennis player Kim Clijsters will make her first trip to Singapore this October, after being announced as a legend ambassador for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore, the prestigious season ender of the women's professional tour.

The four-time Grand Slam winner will join fellow WTA legends Martina Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the role, and will be in Singapore during the Oct 22-29 event.

She was unveiled in her new role on the sidelines of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Tuesday (April 25), where the ticket sales were also launched.

Clijsters, who retired in 2012 and now is a mother of three, won the year-ender three times (2002, 2003, 2010).

She said: "There's always something special about the WTA Finals. It's one of the biggest and proudest achievements of my career and I'm really excited to be an ambassador for the WTA Finals. I look forward to see who will make it to the top eight."

Reigning champion Dominika Cibulkova was also at the launch, despite having to pull out from the Stuttgart competition due to a wrist injury.

Re-living the biggest win of her career, she said: "I look at my trophy almost every day and it reminds me of a great moment of what I was able to win. It was full of emotion."

Players on the WTA began earning for one of eight singles slots available for the WTA Finals. Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova and Dane Caroline Wozniakci currently lead the leaderboard on the Road to Singapore.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Roger Federer getting ready for Seattle match with Bill Gates and John Isner

After sitting out the second half of the 2016 season with a knee injury, tennis great Roger Federer has made a remarkable comeback. At the age of 35, he has won the three biggest tournaments of the year so far, including the Australian Open back in January. Now the living tennis legend is coming to Seattle. Federer will be at Key Arena for the "Match 4 Africa 4" along with Bill Gates and American tennis pro John Isner on Saturday April 29th. KOMO's Frank Lenzi chatted with Federer, who is training right now in Dubai.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Roger Federer says he's a 'totally normal guy not- Mr. perfect'

Roger Federer is firmly established as one of the world's most popular athletes, but he says he isn't under pressure to keep up that image.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion has gained a huge following for his pleasing game, sportsmanship and accessible personality, yet he describes himself as just another normal guy.

"It's not a burden," he said in an interview with Tages Anzeiger and German-speaking reporters to promote his scheduled appearance in Stuttgart. "I can, happily, be myself. The picture is also distorted. Everyone thinks [that] because I have success, everything is wonderful.

"But, also, I am constantly working to improve myself. Whether it's organization, the father of a family, a tennis player."

Federer added that fans have gotten to know him as a player and a public figure, though he is quite private away from the courts.

"Happily, I give many interviews, where I can be normal,” he said. “People can feel, ‘This is not Mr. Perfect. This is someone who is totally normal.' It's nice that I have such a good image. But it is primarily around sport."