Being a big-time tennis umpire seems like a dream job to most.
But the constant travel is something many can only do for so long, especially those with families or strong roots.
And so French chair umpire Pascal Maria (who has held the top designation, a gold badge, since his late 20s),
is wrapping up his career at 44.
He’s taken a job with the French federation.
Maria’s resumé lists some epic matches – from Federer vs. Nadal at Wimbledon in 2008 to the gold-medal match between Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro at the Rio Olympics last year.
It’s not all red carpets and fancy hotel suites on Tour.
Ask doubles specialist Oksana Kalashnikova, a 27-year-old native of Georgia who’s currently ranked No. 71.
Upon arrival in Mumbai, India for the WTA 125K event next week,
Kalashnikova wrote on Twitter that she got into a car accident in the official transport from the airport. And then she arrived at the hotel, no one could find her reservation.
Kalashnikova beefs a lot on her Twitter. But they’re legit beefs. In Luxembourg she had trouble finding the hotel, and bigger issues with the line umpiring.
Caroline Wozniacki had arguably the best season of her career, with the WTA Tour Finals trophy on her shelf and her best year-end ranking (No. 3) since 2012.
But her first move of the offseason (
after getting engaged) was to dismiss hitting partner/assistant coach Sascha Bajin.
Bajin announced it on Twitter Wednesday.
Bajin, 33, long played the same role for Serena Williams, becoming a friend and confidante along the way.
The arrival of Patrick Mouratoglou changed the dynamic there. Bajin went on to work with Victoria Azarenka.
He seems to bring success with him, so it’s a curious move.
The trend continues in the tennis universe, as former top-25 player Jarmila Groth gave birth to daughter Natalia Saturday.
Yes, it’s another baby girl.
Among those on trend this season are Serena Williams (with Alexis Olympia),
Andy Murray (with a second daughter whose name has yet to be revealed), Mandy Minella (with Emma Lina) and Novak Djokovic (with daughter Tara).
Meanwhile, Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu welcomed double trouble, with twins earlier this month.
But Lu bucked the trend. Both are boys. That’s three for Lu and wife Chien Chung-wen. Son Wei-Chen turned three Oct. 30.
Andy Murray’s hip injury prevented him from making a run to qualify for the ATP Tour Finals.
But being the defending champion, and a London resident, does come with some perks.
The current world No. 16 is taking advantage of having some of the best players in the world in town to up the practice intensity, as he prepares a return to the courts early in 2018.
On the weekend, Murray’s training partner was Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
Thiem made his Tour Finals debut Monday. He lost in three sets to Grigor Dimitrov.
The off-season isn’t only time for exhibitions.
It surpasses even the post-Wimbledon period as the time for weddings.
The latest to tie the knot are Argentine Federico Delbonis and Spaniard Albert Ramos-Viñolas.
Delbonis missed nearly a dozen tournaments this season with leg and hip injuries. But he finished off the season on a positive note as he tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Virginia Taccari.
Ramos-Viñolas had the best season of his career. He’s been in the top 25 all season and reached a career high of No. 17 in May, at age 29. He married Helena Marti .
Judy Murray, mother and early coach of two world No. 1s in Andy and Jamie, has distinguished herself in her own right.
She works tirelessly for causes she believes in, at an age where she could well have just basked in her sons’ accomplishments – and enjoy her grandchildren.
Murray’s quest to get more women involved in tennis, in tennis coaching and in sport overall had her at Buckingham Palace Friday being recognized by Prince William.
Murray was presented with an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).
Nathalie Tauziat was the winner of the
“Coach of the Year” award, presented by the French professional women’s tennis association, ProElle Tennis.
Tauziat brought Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu to the top of the junior charts and is overseeing her transition to the pro ranks.
Of course, the award highlights the
fundamental dysfunction in French tennis.
That the women have to have their own organization to defend their interests is one thing.
The other irony is that Tauziat’s relationship with the French federation has been notoriously frosty. Their loss has been Tennis Canada’s gain.
That big smile you see on Stan Wawrinka’s face is a the smile
of a tennis player who is finally back on the court.
The 32-year-old last played at Wimbledon; he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the first round.
But although Wawrinka tried to get back for the US Open, he called it a season in early August and had what
he termed a “medical intervention” on his knee.
Fitness trainer Pierre Paganini is still on the job, as you can see.
He is scheduled to return
at the December exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
Novak Djokovic is having a jam-packed stay in Los Angeles.
It has lunch with mentor Agassi, and an appearance at a charity event hosted by Goldie Hawn, who has done the same for Djokovic in the past.
Djokovic also made the day of
one of his biggest fans, former NBA star Scottie Pippen.
And to top it off, he hit the Late, Late Show and knocked a water bottle right off James Corden’s head.
As rusty as he might be, he’s clearly still got it.