WTA injuries decimate Rome event

In addition the players who withdrew pre-tournament, the WTA side of the Rome event has been decimated by pullouts – in part because of the double-up schedule forced by Wednesday’s rainout.

Naomi Osaka woke up with a thumb problem Friday and gave Kiki Bertens a walkover. Serena Williams won her first match and pulled out with a left knee injury before she was to play sister Venus.

Alizé Cornet (right adductor), Jelena Ostapenko (virus, slight fever), Garbiñe Muguruza and Julia Goerges (right adductors) and Petra Kvitova (left leg) retired mid-match. 

Even considering normal pre-Slam caution, it’s a lot.

“Studying Sharapova” a fab elective

The University of Santa Barbara currently has a course called “Picturing Maria Sharapova”.

It’s taught by the fabulous Anita Stahl, a doctoral student in feminist studies.

Stahl says it’s not really about Sharapova. She’s the vehicle through which to study “gender, femininity, globalization, labor, immigration, history, race, and media, according to a WTA story, 

Sharapova’s memoir is required reading, of course.

A big tennis fan who moonlights in tennis media, Stahl also has taught a course called “The Meaning of Serena Williams”.

The story doesn’t ask the obvious question: will the women herself be a guest speaker?

Georgina Clark award highlights IW reunion

Alumni gathered at Indian Wells as Chris Evert received the Georgina Clark Mother award for “her contribution to the cultural and emotional life of the WTA family.”

Clark, a mother of five who died in 2010, was a WTA vice-president and the first woman to umpire a Wimbledon final: Evert vs. Navratilova in 1984.

“To see her grow and the women, person, the mother that she is. We would have never guessed that either one of us would have turned out the way we turned out, and we end up so close,” Navratilova said.
(Warning: mullet alert)

Hlavackova latest mom-to-be

Andrea Hlavackova, a 32-year-old Czech currently ranked No. 8 in the world in doubles, will be off the court for awhile.

She announced on her Instagram, in conjunction with a story on the WTA Tour’s website, that she and husband Fabrizio Sestini are expecting a baby this summer.

Hlavackova and countrywoman Barbora Strycova played in the Tour Finals in Singapore last October. But she hasn’t yet played in 2019.

“It was definitely something we planned in our lives, though it happened quicker than we expected,” Sestini-Hlavackova said.

She and Sestini, a tournament-relations director for the WTA, married in July, 2017.  

WTA picks top-5 outfits for ’18

Judging by the five outfits chosen by the WTA as its best of the 2018 season, it has not been a banner year for women’s tennis fashion.

It happens. At least they didn’t choose the peculiar Nike combination of pink (technically: ” guava ice”) dress over longer shorties that combined orange and green (officially: Orange Peel and Rainforest).

Serena Williams’s catsuit made the cut, hopefully more for the statement it made than the actual design. Also making it was the early-season adidas jumpsuit and Simona Halep’s “Neo Turq” Nike outfit from the French Open.

Mattek-Sands Lucky in (tennis) Love

It’s a real challenge these days for players to get clothing sponsorships, with nearly all the money going to the very, very top players.

But American doubles star Bethanie Mattek-Sands – always known for her sartorial splendor on court – has carved out a deal with the Miami-based brand Lucky in Love.

They will collaborate on “capsule collections” throughout the year, with the first kicking off for January’s Australian Open.

If you don’t know the brand, they’ve been head and shoulders over the rest the last few years for fun, bright, original designs. Amazing stuff.

Mouratoglou – Serena should make Paris

Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou says his charge needed five weeks to be ready, after arriving at his academy April 30.

“After her pregnancy, Serena had to rebuild her body. … That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome,” Mouratoglou said in an exclusive interview with the WTA Tour website

“She is improving in all the areas fast. I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros,” he said.

Williams also was spotted with tape on her left knee.

An Instagram post by Williams Monday had her in Rome Monday.

WTA promos Bouchard, as she hits ITF

Some tone-deafness on the part of the WTA Tour Twitter account this week, as it promoted Genie Bouchard  – and linked to an April photo shoot – the very week the 24-year-old Canadian takes to the ITF circuit at Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

A year ago in Madrid, Bouchard upset Maria Sharapova in arguably one of the matches of the year for its intensity and drama. 

But that was a year ago. So it was just grist for the haters’ mill.

It might do Bouchard good to watch the video, though, before her first match in France. She was pumped.

WTA No. 1 in play again in Madrid

Unless Simona Halep manages to duplicate her near-perfect 2017 clay run, we may see Caroline Wozniacki atop the rankings for the foreseeable future..

It might not happen next week in Madrid; Wozniacki would have to reach the semis to have a shot – the final if Halep defeats Ekaterina Makarova in her first match.

But in all, Halep has 2,885 points to defend (Madrid title, Rome and French Open finals). It’s about one-third of her total points.

Wozniacki, who dealt with a shoulder injury a year ago, has just 495 points coming off. She didn’t even play Rome in 2017.

Sharapova week-to-week with Högstedt

Maria Sharapova has not committed full-time to former coach Thomas Högstedt.

But given her improving health after a long-term forearm injury, she said his work ethic is what she needs right now. And he brings fresh intel into the collaboration.

“With Thomas … he’s coached a lot against me since and I appreciate that feedback coming back into the team,” she said after losing a tight one to Caroline Garcia in the first round.

“He has a great work ethic. And I’m all for that. I’m not shy of putting in the work.”