26 Responses

  1. Karunya
    Karunya February 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

    I hate Neil Harman with every fibre of my being.

  2. Aube
    Aube February 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm |

    Everything you said is the truth, especially the number one discussion,whoever gets it deserves it and people should really stop trying to criticize or explain away any theory when someone other than Serena has it,this coming from an Serena fan…if you don’t like the system then take it to the WTA authorities…

    As for Indian Wells, they can say what they want, my theory is “who feels it knows it all” it’s very easy to downplay people’s position on certain issues, but unless you are the one that suffered it, you could elaborate all you want I will side with the offended on this matter…

    Now this is my personal feeling about Serena and the ranking,I trully could care less if she was number 888 because to me at this point of her career ranking does not matter to me as a fan,of course I don’t count, but I just feel that Serena does much much better in the field when she hunts rather than when she is hunted,I don’t want to say it’s a good motivation to stay hungry but to me there is always that sense of proving something that I get on her winning statements when she is nowhere near the overwhelming favorite,not that she can’t validate those narratives,it’s just it’s almost hypnotic the way she swallows any doubt and that is tantalizing to me as a fan,the multiple comebacks she orchestrated in her tennis life is unbelievable therefore I elect to wait patiently for the “passing of the guard” while wishing luck to all young american new comers,as a tennis fan it could only mean more fun for me:) but waiting till it’s there to state it will be more reasonable…

    So congrats for being number one Serebaby but if indeed you’d stay there or not does not matter for this tennis fan,I know what you could do!!!

    Go babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

  3. Mark
    Mark February 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

    Funny, I don’t remember your defense of the WTA and the ranking system when Wozniacki was number one.

    1. AmyLu
      AmyLu February 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm |

      Well, that would have been pretty difficult for Linz to write a defense of Wozniacki’s number one ranking at The Changeover, since it’s only been in existence since October…

      1. Mark
        Mark February 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

        I’m not talking about this website, per say. Lindsay, among countless others, never believed that Wozniacki deserved number one and were incredulous of a ranking system that had her 67 weeks at the top spot. Now that isn’t much different from these journalists saying that the system now has “credibility” again with Serena at number one.

    CHARMAINE February 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm |

    Mark surely you do not want to compare Wozniacki lead up to number one to Serena’s. Serena’s won Wimbledon, Olympics, US Open and YEC. Her road has quality tournaments not quantity of tournaments in remote areas against players rank 100 and above. Surely you do not think Wozniaki’s rise to number one should be celebrated, when she hardly beat anyone of substance to get there. Even Safina’s number one was much better because she beat some quality people and played and won premier tournaments.

    1. Jewell
      Jewell February 16, 2013 at 3:45 am |

      I think you exaggerate slightly? I completely agree that Wozniacki’s grand slam record as #1 was lacking – not so much at the hard court slams, but at the French Open & Wimbledon. However, she also won Indian Wells and Beijing, and Tokyo and Montreal, in the years in which she was year-end #1. In 2010 at the YEC she beat three top ten players including the then #2, Vera Zvonareva, who had the best season of her career. She played mostly the same tournaments as other top ten players – I’d hardly count Copenhagen as “remote”.

      I’ve questioned some of Caroline’s scheduling choices in the past, but that relates to playing a tourney the week before a slam – the same criticism one can make of Radwanska’s scheduling. Not conducive to doing well in the slam itself.

  5. SA
    SA February 16, 2013 at 12:19 am |

    praise this post.

  6. Ophelia
    Ophelia February 16, 2013 at 12:31 am |

    Agree with everything you said, Lindsay, ten times over. I’m also going to add that the people who claim that the WTA ranking system is inferior to the ATP one should consider the fact that if Djokovic had lost the recent Australian Open final to Murray, he would still have been ranked No. 1 by nearly 2,000 points in spite of not winning a major over the last 52 weeks and Murray would have stayed at No. 3 in spite of winning the last 2 majors, making the final of a third major, *and* winning Olympic gold on top of all of that. And even then, the rankings would still have accurately reflected that Djokovic was much more consistent in tournaments overall than Murray was, as much as the WTA rankings for 2011 accurately reflected that Wozniacki played at a consistent level for almost the whole year while Grand Slam champions like Li and Kvitova struggled to string together consecutive wins at various points.

    With that said, much congratulations to Serena. It was great to watch her get to cry tears of joy after being thwarted by injuries at the Australian Open. Here’s hoping that she (and the rest of the WTA too) manages to stay injury-free for the rest of the season.

    1. Jewell
      Jewell February 16, 2013 at 3:48 am |

      So much word on the ranking systems, Ophelia. And the staying injury-free for all. 🙂

  7. Fog Mountain
    Fog Mountain February 16, 2013 at 12:35 am |

    I’m sure Serena’s and Venus’ boycott of Indian Wells is justified from their point of view, but 12 years later it deserves no respect or admiration.

    Crowds, by definition, participate in mob psychology, and are moved emotionally by perceptions of the moment. From today’s perspective, it seems completely silly that people believed Richard Williams decided beforehand who would win when the sisters played each other, or that Venus withdrew from the 2001 Indian Wells semifinal simply because she didn’t want to play Serena. But at the time, Venus and Serena had played each other only five times, and most of those matches had an anticlimactic quality that made a lot of people wonder. Venus, Serena, and especially Richard could have managed this perception better by being less cryptic and standoffish in their interactions with the media, but wouldn’t learn this until later. Anyway, due to a combination of appearances and unfortunate misunderstandings that came together on one day in 2001, much of the crowd of 16,000 felt wronged by the Williams family and voiced their reaction. No doubt a few, perhaps a few dozen, bellowed racial epithets as Richard said they did. Any sufficiently large crowd, anywhere in the world, will inevitably and unfortunately contain at least a small fraction of racists.

    Serena and Venus have no obligation to forgive the individual fans who booed them that day, let alone those who exhibited racism. But the behavior of those particular fans is not the fault of the Indian Wells tournament, or of the town of Indian Wells, or of the greater community of the Coachella Valley, or of the WTA. Even if it were, all those communities and institutions have changed since 2001. The tournament is under new ownership. The population of the Coachella Valley has grown by 67%, its myriad individual towns including Palm Springs now forming an integral metropolitan area, and non-Hispanic whites are now a minority. The WTA has become more diverse, featuring significant numbers of star players of every race and from nearly every region of the world.

    The boycott hurt not only the fans who misbehaved in 2001. It hurts this year’s fans, most of whom were not present in 2001, and many of whom will travel from all over the American Southwest to attend the tournament. It hurts especially fans from Southern California who idolize Venus and Serena specifically because they grew up in Compton, and who will miss another chance to see the Williamses play what is in a sense their home tournament. It hurts millions of fans around the world who watch the tournament on television. And it hurts the WTA, according to whose rules Indian Wells has been a mandatory tournament since 2009, and without whom Venus’ and Serena’s careers would have been far less lucrative.

    When confronted by racism and other forms of hatred, it is important to stand up for one’s rights and dignity. It is also important not to let those stands grow into grudges that live on past all justification and do more damage to the innocent than to the guilty.

    1. Karen
      Karen February 16, 2013 at 8:09 am |

      You make some wonderful points in your response regarding the Indian Wells’ issue. However, it all goes back to perception. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like for Venus and Serena to experience what they did in 2001. For what it is worth, I recently went and saw the movie Django Unchained. I have never experienced slavery. I have never been whipped by white people. I work in a firm that has all of my bosses being white (I am a fat black woman by the way) and I have never felt any racist undertones when I am reprimanded by any of the attorneys in my firm, even when they yell at me (which they do from time to time when arguments get heated).

      However, after I saw the movie Django Unchained, I came away with a different perspective on this whole racism thing. Richard Williams grew up in the deep south in the US where his parents were sharecroppers. From history one can understand the victimisation that Richard and his family went through during that time. These lessons that he lived he shared with his children. He taught them about us against the world.

      Fast forward to 2001 and these ladies are now young women. They have seen and experienced much in a sport that is dominated by white folks. The lessons taught to them by their father are now staring them in the face. They realise that everything that their father told them was true. How then do you expect them to actually take up their racquet bags and head to a place where they were tarred and feathered and called liars. I think it would be very hard for them to do that.

      Even worse than the fans, the previous owners never came out and offered an apology for their part in the incident. The tournament director never came out and informed fans that Venus had withdrawn from the semifinal until it was too late to do so. The tournament did not do what the tournament was supposed to do in relation to this incident.

      Despite the tournament having been sold to Larry Ellison and his group, I understand that the previous owners still have a hand in the organisations etc. As such, I doubt that either Venus or Serena will ever head back to the desert.

  8. Jewell
    Jewell February 16, 2013 at 3:20 am |

    You missed out Harman’s most telling line, Linz, responding to a sarcastic tweet – “I am not privileged, the colour of my skin has nothing whatever to do with it.”

  9. Seb Roy
    Seb Roy February 17, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  10. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne February 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm |

    Lindsay, I really appreciate your billion reasons why Serena’s regaining the #1 was a big deal.

    But I don’t approve at all of your defense of the flawed-at-its-core WTA ranking system. Any ranking system, at its core, should have some predictive value — it should produce a result such that (with occasional very brief contrary intervals) people have confidence that the #1 player should be the betting favorite against any other player. Ranking points should not be awarded based on the number of matches one wins, but on the quality of the opponents one has won and lost against. As I’m sure you know, Serena was 8-0 against her two leading rivals last year and has an unbelievable record against top 5 opponents going back several years.

    Can you imagine a heavyweight champion in boxing losing five times in a row to one opponent (some of them by early knock-out) and not losing his belt? It would be a scandal and deservedly so.

    The supreme irony is that for the last six months Serena has been CLEARLY the best player in the world but lacked the #1 ranking. Finally, however, during the very week that Azarenka finally demonstrates something close to equivalence with Serena, she loses the top spot. It’s absurd.

    Last summer and fall Serena won nearly every event she competed in and absolutely crushed most of her opponents — but the ranking system kept her “in her place”. This year, she is beaten in the QF’s of the AO and the Finals of Doha — both of which events were won by Azarenka – and NOW the ranking system decides that Serena is the true #1.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous.

    1. Brian H
      Brian H February 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

      “Can you imagine a heavyweight champion in boxing losing five times in a row to one opponent (some of them by early knock-out) and not losing his belt? It would be a scandal and deservedly so.”

      The thing is, boxing make people even angrier. Oh, he doesn’t deserve his belt, he hasn’t fought X yet. Oh, he doesn’t deserve his belt, he lost to Y in a non-title fight. Oh, so and so’s only getting this fight because of politics. And the boxing rankings are even more confusing than the WTA rankings. Thank goodness they don’t regularly seed tournaments based on them! Heck, they can’t even figure out who the real champions *are* – there are something like 80 recognized belt holders for only ~16 weight classes. Honestly, combat sports are the most badly-managed, corrupt sports in existence. I wouldn’t use boxing/MMA/etc as a model for tennis in a million years.

      I think a perfect ranking system is quite literally impossible. At it’s core, it’s a kind of voting problem, and making it perfectly fair with >2 players just can’t be done. Which is why a reasonably simple system, where players know what they have to do to get a certain ranking, is as good as it’s going to get. And frankly, it’s not all that bad as it is. If Vika wanted to still be number one, she should have won more on clay and grass. If Serena wanted to be number one sooner, she shouldn’t have lost the first round of the FO. And since they know that, it works. Just so long as it difficult to intentionally game the system for more than a couple of ranking sports, I’m not going to complain at all.

      Although, this discussion makes me want to go make a “lineal #1” ranking history, just to see what happens…

  11. PopsTwitTar
    PopsTwitTar February 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

    Good stuff. As far as rankings go, I do think there should be a discussion about whether the system (on both tours) should be tweaked to reflect, not just historical performance, but “significant achievement”. One obvious example would be to change the spread between majors and the non-majors. Should winning a major be worth more than double a non-major, as it is now, or should a major winner get additional points for winning a theoretically harder tournament (this is more pronounced on the ATP tour, where you have the Master 1000s Best of 3, and the Majors Best of 5). Another possible tweak would be to reward players who repeat in events. Djokovic has won the AO 3 straight times…maybe that needs some recognition.

    Im not to invested in this argument – I think the rankings work generally well. But I do think there might be some tweaks that would go a way towards trying to better define who truly is the “Top” player in the world at any given time.

  12. Indian Wells Women’s Draw Analysis | Fog Mountain Tennis

    […] Williams continue their 12-year boycott of Indian Wells (which I wrote about in the comments of this post by Lindsay Gibbs on The […]

Comments are closed.