Serena popped by the French Open to watch the women’s bracket — absent her, Sharapova, and now Kerber, Radwanska, Venus, Muguruza, Kuznetsova — march toward what I think might be a Simona Halep win, unless Woz can somehow capitalize. And she looks lovely and comfy in this great robe. But it got me thinking: We chat about the future of ice skating, and the behind-the-scenes gossip, fairly often. We never get to do it with tennis, and I bet we have Fug Nationals who are just as knowledgeable as the ice skating crew — given that Fug Nation teaches me something every day and is CHOCK FULL of people with interesting lives.
So. Do you think Serena is the GOAT, or that lesser competition — or the perception thereof — in her era blunts her achievements? (I lean way into the GOAT camp, and I say that as someone who worshipped Steffi Graf as a kid. To my mind, Graf is the person who’d have given Serena the best run.) And what is the state of the women’s game? This is a peek at what it’ll be without Serena — for the rest of this year, and then at whatever hopefully far-off date when she might choose to retire. The French Open certainly hasn’t been predictable (Kerber down in the first round?!?), but it hasn’t been as thrilling either without a Williams looming near the finish line. The men’s game seems is slightly less dependent on any one rivalry — or any one person versus the field — but that’s mostly because there’s a whole core of dudes who can toss the bullseye between them: Federer (sitting out the French), Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray, with dashes of Wawrinka and Cilic and maybe Raonic. Any one of them can be a favorite or an underdog at any given Open, so when Federer sits down a spell, we shift to Nadal; when Nadal was out, it was a lot of Djokovic vs. Murray. Those rivalries seem more real and meaty than anything in the women’s game right now, which is why I think the game is so dependent on the Williams Sisters. It’s them vs. everyone else. We’ve seen other greats put down their rackets, like Martina and Steffi, and Seles and Davenport and Hingis, and the game carried on — in my mind, largely because the Williamses were there in the wings, or already out there hauling more than their share of the load. But when Venus and Serena decide to hang it up, I can’t quite sort out who the heirs apparent will be.
Let’s chat it up! Or, you know, spread any rumors and whispers you’ve heard from the Tour. Sometimes the coach-swap drama and insights are as good as what’s on the court.