© Ella Ling

Serena Williams

Oddballs and Oddities


Bringing you a smattering of some of the weird and wonderful things that have happened in the tennis strata this week (week ending Sunday 8th January 2012)…

Stick to the tennis, Serena?
The presses went into explosive spasms when Serena Williams channelled Andre Agassi and announced to the world that she ‘didn’t love tennis,’ during a press conference in Brisbane. Oh my, shock horror and what on earth shall we do?

Quite apart from the fact that everyone seemed to miss the fact she said she didn’t love tennis ‘today’, as opposed to ‘forever’ – bring me the person who loves their job for 365 days a year –   Beyond the Baseline’s Courtney Nguyen hit the post in the ground with her assessment that there is simply no point analysing Serena’s prognostications because they only mean something to Serena. She’s unfathomable. And very successful because of it.

Besides, she’s already got a new career in impressions. Watch out Alistair McGowan. Or not.

Brushing dirt off your shoulder, the Zheng Jie way
I was recently introduced to the concept of ‘brushing dirt of your shoulder.’ This is not, as I thought, a way of declaring you have dandruff. It is a gesture synonymous with street.  Even Prince William can do it.

Thanks to the organisers of the ASB Classic in Auckland, we now have another expert.
Jay Z herself.

Andy and Robbo
The Hopman Cup in Perth has been without one of its star partnerships this year, Andy Murray and Laura Robson, who came nail-chewingly close to securing the famous diamonds two years ago, and were back in action again last year.

But, thankfully for Australians, Andy and Robbo have been located in a Melbourne field. They both need a hair cut.

When Jamie met Andy
Keeping with Master Murray, who gave tennis writers around the world a happy new year’s eve with the news that he has added Ivan Lendl to his coaching team, he and brother Jamie took a turn at some brotherly love for CNN. Desist, humour-doubters.

A floundering Fish
Mardy Fish may have been the man with a well-executed plan in the latter-half of 2011, but his plot seems to be on holiday so far in 2012. How else could you explain this?

The tennis infirmary
Barely a week into the season, and the tennis infirmary is looking pretty full. Amid rumours of Rafael Nadal’s dodgy shoulder, the first casualty was Maria Sharapova, who withdrew from Auckland with an ankle injury, closely followed by Heather Watson, also an ankle injury. Then, would you believe it, Serena Williams, and another ankle injury. Sabine Lisicki bucked the apple cart with an abdominal strain, before Kim Clijsters retired in Brisbane with a hip flexor injury. Definitely not good.

The most inventive ailment belongs to Australia’s Jarka Gajdosova, who had a root canal before being double-bageled by Marion Bartoli at the Hopman Cup in Perth. In her defence, I’ve had a root canal. It’s hideous.

On the men’s side, there will be no James Blake or Fernando Gonzalez in Melbourne, and Roger Federer made a rare tournament withdrawal from Doha with a bad back. Oh and Lleyton Hewitt has a sore big toe.

Shopping changes
Tennis fans often spend the early weeks of the season with their binoculars out. Not to analyse bicep definition, but rather to work out who’s done a bit of sponsor shopping over the winter break. This may sound more turgid than the Wimbledon compendium, but such things do make a difference. Novak Djokovic and the switch to Head, remember?

The big news in the bat world in 2012 is that Rafael Nadal has reconfigured his infamous Babolat AeroPro drive, the French manufacturer’s best-selling racket. He’s added some weight to the head to give him even more spin. Lovely.

As for labels, Jelena Jankovic has departed Li Ning for Fila, and Sam Stosur’s signed up with asics.

Did you know?
Roger Federer
and Serena Williams are the only players to win the Australian Open on both Rebound Ace and Plexicushion Prestige. But Serena doesn’t love tennis, remember.

Quote of the week
“It’s tough after winning a big title, maintaining the concentration—so many photo shoots….”
Li Na pinpoints the reasons for her post-French Open slump.

Don’t miss…
Flavia Pennetta’s
autobiography, Dritto al Cuore (Straight to the Heart). You just need to find a translator.

And finally…
For those (read me) suffering from a touch of 2011 nostalgia, have a wamble through this summary of the year in animated highlights, and try and work out which is your favourite.