This Week In Tennis
THIS WEEK IN TENNIS
On court, Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams in the women's final 6-4 6-4, and Novak Djokovic overcame Milos Raonic 6-2 6-0. Moore's comments, which came shortly before both finals on Sunday, made for cringe-worthy optics during the trophy presentations. In their press conferences, the finalists offered their opinions on the controversy: Williams put Moore on blast, while Djokovic segued into a discussion on equal prize money. The pressers stoked the flames set off by Moore's comments even further, with Williams hailed for her firm stance, and Djokovic largely derided.
For more on the controversy, check out the "Press" and "On The Web" sections. In the meantime, let's explore the last week in tennis a bit further.
- Victoria Azarenka returns to the WTA top 10 for the first time since August, 2014 after beating Serena Williams to win her 2nd Indian Wells title. Azarenka is now the only player to beat Williams four times in WTA finals.
- Serena Williams lost her second final of the year. But, it will be her expert handling of Raymond Moore's sexist comments in her press conference afterwards that will be long remembered.
- Radwanska is the new world #2 after reaching the semis, pushing Angelique Kerber down a spot to #3.
- Daria Kasatkina created a stir of her own earlier in the week during a Q&A with Tennis.com. On court, the 18-year-old reached the quarters of Indian Wells, and moves to a career high #36 in the rankings.
- Misaki Doi lost her first round match at Indian Wells, then entered and won the inaugural tournament in San Antonio. The top ranked Japanese player now has a career high mark at #44.
- Coming off consecutive first round losses in Dubai and Doha, Karolina Pliskova reached the semis at the BNP Paribas Open for her 2nd quarterfinal on the season. The result bumps her five spots to #14.
- Nicole Gibbs reached a new career high of #74 following a run through qualifying to the round of 16 at Indian Wells. She took out Madison Keys before losing in the 3rd set to Petra Kvitova.
- Maria Sharapova, inactive due to a suspension for failing a drug test at the Australian Open, falls out of the WTA top 10.
Q. You have led women, and Venus also, have led women through a lot of struggles. Are you surprised in 2016 that's issues and complaints and sexism are still cropping up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour that's done well. Last year the women's final at the US Open sold out well before the men. I'm sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men's final? I think not.
So I just feel like in order to make a comment you have to have history and you have to have facts and you have to know things. You have to know of everything. I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women's players but women's athletes in general.
So I feel like, you know, that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet, that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman.
Q. We all know how 2001 was, but one thing I remember from that match you played, despite all the adversity, you played a great match. Can you talk about that side of it, the way you played despite everything going against and you coming out on top?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was amazing. It was an awful, awful, awful experience. I only got through it through just prayer. I just remember saying, Just help me get through this. I don't even want to win. I believe I lost the first set maybe. And then somehow I just was holding the trophy after that. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Q. Do you feel like there is maybe a misunderstanding behind how people are interpreting that in some way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, if you read the transcript you can only interpret it one way. I speak very good English. I'm sure he does, too.
You know, there's only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not -- we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn't have to drop to our knees at any point.
Q. You worked out having to pick up that trophy. How does it feel to win and be back in the top 10?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Feels good just to be able to, you know, see the work that I have put in and it's paying off. But not just, you know, this year. Just everything that I have been through in the last years, it makes it more special.
I just want to keep going. I just want to keep going. I want to keep improving myself as a player. I was very, I would say, brave to go for things that I haven't maybe done as much before in the matches.
I was more aggressive. I started to use my serve the way I wanted to use my serve. Sometimes it doesn't work necessarily, like couple of matches this week. But having that big goal in mind and going after it, that's something that makes the momentum shift on the big stages.
Q. Is there anything that you see when you watch maybe other people play Serena where you notice that there are certain things that you do specifically that no other player can do against her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't know, but I see a lot of them losing before they step on the court.
Q. How do you make sure you don't do that? VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm not afraid of anybody. I want -- I want to have those challenges. Some people maybe want to avoid that, and I live for those moments.
Let's have a closer look at what's been happening #ThisWeekInTennis!
- Sharapova dominated news in the early going of Indian Wells. Check out the "On The Web" section for some of the pieces that have been written on the story in the past week.
- Venus Williams made her return to Indian Wells official on Friday. Sadly, for Venus and her fans, she lost in straight sets to Kurumi Nara. Watch the the welcome she received and Venus' reaction HERE.
- Serena followed Venus two matches later on Stadium 1 with a 6-2 6-1 win over Laura Siegemund. It was the world #1's first tour match since losing in the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber.
- Speaking of the Australian Open champ, Kerber lost her opening match 5-7 5-7 to Allertova. Since winning her first Grand Slam, Kerber went 1-1 in Fed Cup and has now lost her first match in consecutive events.
- Muguruza's struggles in 2016 continued as she exited in the 2nd round to Christina McHale. The Spaniard is now just 6-5 on the year.
- Taylor Townsend made it through the qualifying draw before losing in the first round. After entering last year's event ranked #96, Townsend will leave the desert just inside #400. Hopefully, this result is a sign of better things to come.
- Shuai Peng made her first singles appearance on the WTA since last year's French Open (back). Currently ranked #768, the 2014 U.S. Open semifinalist lost 0-6 1-6 to Putintseva in the first round.
- Laura Robson is on the comeback trail. Despite a first round loss, Robson claims to be ready to resume a full schedule on the WTA tour.
- Stosur and Ivanovic both saved match points before advancing to the third round with a pair of 3-set victories.
Q. Do you think back to the last time you were in that stadium? The stadium itself hasn't maybe changed much. Do you ever flash back to that? VENUS WILLIAMS: Is the stadium bigger? It looks really -- it's big. (Smiling.) I didn't actually think back to that. I definitely live in the now and it was a long time ago. Serena and I have been able to do a lot of positive things in our lives since then. Hopefully those positive things have affected a lot of people. That's what we focused on more than anything. I think when she came back it wasn't an easy decision. You never know what was going to happen. But she had so much courage to do so. It made it so easy for me. I felt like when I came out here I was able to focus on the tennis and not on, oh, my gosh, what's gonna happen.
Q. Probably as much as any other athlete, you have had so many triumphs and challenges, so many chapters. Venus lost tonight, but it was a wonderful night, also. Do you think in some way her coming back is to close a chapter on all that occurred, that it's time to move on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. Definitely. I think it wasn't about winning. When I come here, even to this day it's not about winning. It's just about closing that chapter in my life and her life and our lives and try to move on with our heads up, as we always had our heads up. But just continue to do that.
Q. Do you think you are satisfied with the way you and Venus have navigated through all this? Do you think it could be an example to others? SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I hope so. We always try to be an example, positive role model, and a positive example to our colleagues as well as people that are outside of tennis and everyone of all walks of life
Q. Last year you had that French Open, Wimbledon --
SIMONA HALEP: Don't remember me, please.
Q. I'm sorry I have to remind you. You were disappointed by all that. Then you came to North America and had a very good North American summer. Is that at all similar to how you felt after Australia and then having a bit of a longer break after the Middle East?
SIMONA HALEP: No. Was different. Last year was just about the pressure. I couldn't handle it and I wanted too much from me. I wanted to win all the matches. It was like if I did the final one year before I have to do the same thing, so it's a big mistake. If you think like this you cannot play anymore. You are very stressed. This year I was very sick. I couldn't practice. After 10 minutes I was very tired on court. So I got a little bit scared about it, and, you know, I lost the power. I lost my legs. I lost the confidence. That's why I couldn't win matches. Actually, in Sydney I didn't play too bad, but after that I got the infection, nose infection, and was very bad for me. But I want to forget it. Actually not forget it but just to keep it away a little bit, because now I feel good. I eat pretty good now, so everything is good. If I can run, it's all good.
Q. It's been quite a controversial week, if you like, for women's tennis. Over the years you have stood up and been a spokesman on several issues. What's your take on the whole Maria business? VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, any time I have spoken up on issues is because I know the facts. In this case I don't. I guess they are finding the facts now. That's, I guess, a discovery period. So what can you say? What I do know is that in the past she's been very competitive. I think she has been a role model for a lot of people. She has a ton of fans, and I think she's affected a lot of lives in a positive way. Hopefully that will won't be the end of that.
Q. How are you doing with all the post-concussion stuff since Australia? Everything been okay on that front?
EUGENIE BOUCHARD: Yeah. Thank you for asking. You know, once in a while I feel like I have little lapses, and I think that's still maybe to be expected. You never know exactly, you know, how you're going to heal from these things or how long it will take. In Malaysia I felt like I suffered some symptoms. As I have been here in this great desert, dry weather, I have been great. Just something I constantly monitor. Just trying to stay on top of it.
Q. You and Sam have had a couple of sort of testy coaching timeouts where he comes on and gets more emotional than maybe most players and coaches during timeouts. Is that how things are usually with you or something in the heat of the match that you both get worked up?
GARBINE MUGURUZA: No. I think it's just if you're in a tennis match you are always very emotional and you're fighting in just kind of a way what you feel. I don't think is there anything wrong to do so. Sometimes there is a camera. You forget. And the microphone, obviously. But I just think it's normal to express to your coach what you feel. And that's it. I mean, there is no big deal.
Q. Do you feel different about your tennis? A Grand Slam champion. Do you feel a different sort of expectation on the court for yourself when you start a tournament? ANGELIQUE KERBER: It's much more different because I have much more things to do off court. I'm here one week and, yeah, it was a busy week for me. But still, I mean, I'm trying -- I have my team and I'm trying to go out there, work my tennis, improve it. Yeah, and like I said, it's a completely new situation. I will try to get used to it and, yeah, and let's see. I mean, yeah, I'm working hard still and my game will not change. I mean, my game is like it is. I try to improve like few more things into it, but at the end I will still play like I was playing the last years.
Watch Sharapova's entire press conference below:
- Bernard Tomic cast suspicions on Kyrgios, implying that he faked injury to avoid playing Davis Cup. Kyrgios fired back on Twitter, and took a few shots at Ben Rothenberg too. If you missed any of it, check it out HERE.
- On a lighter and more joyous note, Roberto Bautista Agut tweeted in support of LGBT issues, saying he was "proud of his country" for including LGBT folks in the Magdalena Festival celebrations.
- Andy Murray led Britain into the quarterfinals of this year's Davis Cup. Murray, who led Britain to the title last year with an unbeaten record, fought off Kei Nishikori in five sets.
- Novak Djokovic struggled mightily against Mikhail Kukushkin. With Serbia already down 1-2 in matches, Djokovic himself fell behind two sets to one before rallying for the five-set win.
- While Murray and Djokovic were embattled, Roger Federer spent his week leisurely taking in some American professional sport. He attended a Lakers game with Tommy Haas, posed with Thabo Sefolosha, and tweeted from inside the L.A. Kings locker room.