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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Should winner possess great looks .... Marion Bartoli and her winning ways

Life changes in fast lane… a couple of decades ago, there was craze for TV advertisements…. Rasna was the top brand… ‘Only Vimal’   ruled the textiles…………. Those days they roped in famous cricketers like Ravi Shastri, Viv Richards and Alan Border.  Reliance forayed in to textiles and marketed its brand in a very big way with sophisticated, catchy and trendy advertising…. Occupying so much of airtime…. The phrase ‘Only Vimal’………… ‘the looks of a winner’ – was hoisted to fame….. Does looks have to do anything with the win ?  and should a winner be really good looking ??

I had recently posted about the ‘Venus Rosewater dish’ the prize that is given to the Wimbledon Women’s Winner  - and of  the Wimbledon about to producing a new winner as the Semi-finals like up was : 23 V 4; 15 V 20 : Sabine Lisicki (GER) Vs Agnieszka Radwanska [Pol]; Marion Bartoli of France to play against Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium ~  seeds tumbled down  this time and at that stage Sabine Lisicki was listed as the favourite though she was only 23rd seed. Before that do you remember anything about the 2007 Wimbledon Women’s Singles Final ~ fought between the two lowest seeds ever to appear in a Wimbledon final.

On one side  Britons are celebrating the victory of Andy Murray ~ the other side is the story of a woman who started playing at age of 16, entered the fray in the start of this century; has not done much thereafter;  was seeded 15th this Wimbledon.  Her singles record for WTA Tour and Grand Slam tournaments in 2013 was 14-12, and she had failed to make it past the quarterfinals in any of these tournaments.  Here she defeated Elina Svitolina in  1st round; Christina McHale;  Camila Giorgi; and Karin Knapp in the fourth. In QF  Sloane Stephens,  in Semis No.20 seed Kirsten Flipkens to reach her second Wimbledon final. In the final she faced No.23 seed Sabine Lisicki, who had beaten pre-tournament favorite Serena Williams and 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the final. She  won the match in straight sets 6–1, 6–4, to win her first Grand Slam title.  She did not drop a set the entire tournament. She also became the female player who participated in the most Grand Slam tournaments before winning one, as this was her 47th  tournament (breaking the previous perseverance record held by Jana Novotna, at 45). 

She  is known for her unorthodox and intense style of play on the court. She uses two hands on both the forehand and the backhand, and is generally classed as an aggressive and hard-hitting player. She developed her two-handed style on the advice of her father who had no background in tennis. She uses her double-fisted strokes to create sharp angles to open up the court and prefers to take the ball very early on groundstrokes.  She has unusual on-court mannerisms. In between points, she bounces on the spot around like a jackrabbit, takes shadow swings and never keeps her feet still. During changeovers, she shakes her legs violently as she gulps down water or fidgets with her hair.  She is now coached by former World No. 1 and Wimbledon Champion Amelie Mauresmo.

That is lengthy introduction to the newly crowned ‘Marion Bartoli’, a French player. Bartoli has defeated three reigning world no. 1 players in her career so far.  Whether the Champion is determined by the looks is the new raging controversy in Tennis World especially after that BBC head of news - John Inverdale's comments. Firstpost carries an article which speaks of two kinds of hierarchy in women’s tennis ~ the  one determined by rankings and points and the other one shaped by the firmness of the player’s derriere and the leanness of her limbs. In strengthening their argument they draw parallel of Serena – Sharapova – there isn’t much to choose between the on-court earnings of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova but away - : Sharapova’s $22 million is twice the amount Williams earns. Serena is the top-earning female tennis player of all time but a significant component of her income would accrue from actual wins as opposed to the wealth of endorsement deals Sharapova’s blonde perfection attracts. This is not to take away from either player but a reflection of the times.

Bartoli has made a nice retort… she only cares about winning. And that’s not wrong. A Bleacher Report article mirrors this reality. “Looks matter,” it says. “Why else is Sharapova making nearly twice as much in endorsement money as Novak Djokovic?” There have always been the beauties that have played the sport but, back then, there seemed to be a grace to being beautiful.  Steffi Graf, Gabriella Sabitini, Chris Evert – there have been many with stunning looks. Bartoli, in her remarks, inadvertently indicated the pressure that exists should players choose to succumb. Daniela Hantuchova, referred to as a pin-up during her playing days, had once been accused of being an anorexic and called “too thin to play”.   Bartoli seems to have made her peace with the fact that though she may be a winner, she is not going to be a postergirl in a hurry. That is Sharapova’s turf. Incidentally, Bartoli boasts an IQ of 175 ~ much more than some acclaimed scientists.  Also, irrespective of her WTA or her glamour quotient ranking, this puts her in the top 0.0003 percent of the world.

All these because - BBC presenter John Inverdale suggested Marion Bartoli was “never going to be a looker” on Radio 5 Live, shortly after she defeated Sabine Lisicki to win the women’s final on Centre Court. He had to mend his ways as there have been widespread criticism of his remark.  There are reports of him and BBC apologizing describing the remark as "insensitive".  Gracefully,
Bartoli has dismissed Inverdale's comments as irrelevant to her. Bartoli said later: "It doesn't matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry. "But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes. And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it.

Now getting back to 2007  ~ that finals was fought between the two lowest seeds ever to appear in a Wimbledon final, Venus  Williams (23) and Bartoli as the no. 18 seed. Amélie Mauresmo was the defending champion but was knocked out in the fourth round by Nicole Vaidišová. Venus took the game by stork defeating Bartoli, 6–4, 6–1 then. 

Tail piece :  Now Bartoli is coached by Amelie Mauresmo and Andy Murray by great Ivan Lendl, who somehow never won at Wimbledon.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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