Tracy Austin: It's time to focus on personality in women's game not the politics
How I see it...
Sunday 01 July 2012
What a week ahead for the women's game.
My guess is that after Serena's terrific win yesterday and the progress of Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska, the emphasis will return to the personalities in women's tennis and not the politics.
The equal pay issue is as old as the hills. It's about entertainment, not time on court. If it was about time at work, Usain Bolt would be a pauper. It's about putting on a show.
I think we saw with Serena's fantastic, gutsy win over Jie Zheng that the women can deliver great tennis matches that people want to see.
The men's game is going through a rich vein. You have to go back to the era of Borg and McEnroe when the men last had it so good.
Everybody knows the personalities, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Andy Murray. They know their history, their families.
They all have a great story; Roger going for Pete's record of Wimbledon titles, Andy going for his first Grand Slam, Rafa trying to catch Roger at every slam and Djokovic winning his share. Everybody is engaged in this positive narrative.
There is not as much on the line in the women's game just now because no single player is dominating.
There are plenty of people who have been No 1 without winning a Grand Slam: Dinara Safina for a while, Caroline Wozniacki, etc. So we are looking for someone to come through and dominate consistently.
At the start of the year we thought that might be Kvitova after winning here last year and playing phenomenal tennis.
Though she won in Turkey in last autumn, she is the only player in the top 10 who has not won a title this year.
Azarenka finally won her Grand Slam in Australia this year and has played well, so maybe she can be the one.
Sharapova winning the French Open was a great story. The fact that no one gave her a chance on clay made it even more special. Serena was disappointing there, shockingly so because she came into the tournament on the back of a great run. But she is in the running here, which makes the second week so interesting.
I'm thrilled for Clijsters. Knowing this is her last Wimbledon you feel the squeeze of the timeline.
The last two years she has dealt with injury after injury. She feels her body is just too old to play the game she wants to play. So to see her in the second week is a nice surprise and she can get hot.
I'm sure Sharapova is not excited to see her lurking in her half of the draw. I make Sharapova favourite at this point. She has struggled a little in the first week, but once you get through that you start to build.
The bottom half with Serena, Kvitova and Azarenka is the tougher side serving up a great dynamic for the week ahead.
Serena is playing her way into the event. She was knocked around a bit by the loss in the first round at the French.
She looked very tense yesterday. I'm hoping she gets back to her normal game where she is authoritative and playing freely and looking like she is enjoying the experience again. She can win it, for sure.
Tracy Austin is a member of the BBC Wimbledon commentary team
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