What A Start To The Season!
If you somehow aren’t aware of the fact, Roger Federer and Venus Williams have kicked off their respective 2015 campaigns with a bang! While Roger simultaneously won the Brisbane title and his one thousandth – ONE THOUSANDTH! – career match, Venus was in blistering form to devastate the competition in Auckland. In the final, she dismissed one of 2014’s hottest players – Caroline Wozniacki.
Surely, then, this was one time in the tennis world where celebratory peace and joy would reign?
Yes, Venus’ fabulous run was acknowledged (albeit not to the extent one felt it could have been.) And yes, the globe went wild for Roger’s magnificent accomplishment.
But there always have to be those headlines.
Media. “Tennis Experts”. Congratulations. You’ve done it again.
Now let me tear you apart.
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In a unique way of paying tribute to the successes Roger Federer and Venus Williams, I will make some short points on a topic I feel very strongly about.
CONDEMNING THE CALLS FOR RETIREMENT (and other Related Crimes)
It’s been happening for years now:
“Congrats on the win/ Commiserations on the loss, Venus! When are you retiring?”
“Well, Serena’s on the way down.”
“Is this a Changing of the Guard?”
And, their personal favourite:
“IS THE ERA OF THE BIG FOUR OVER???”
Whatever the situation, however minor the result, however short-term the problem… the so-called ‘Experts’ out there can’t seem to help themselves.
This time, rather than concentrating on and delving into the successes of the victorious players, little viruses such as “Is It Too Soon To Start Worrying About Nole And Rafa?” (Answer: Yes, it’s the first week of the season, mate.) have been popping up in various places.
It was the same just a week or so ago. Rather than previewing Roger’s season based on his comeback and progression in 2014, the ignorant question that was posed was ‘Could This Be Roger’s Final Year On Tour?’
These people seem to want the legends out of the game. They want them gone. Who knows why, but quite obviously, they do.
So, here are some outcries against the offenders!
I’ve written on this subject before. Possibly more than once. And so, to avoid too much overlapping, I’ll simply give some hard-hitting bullet points, that either defy the poisonous theories and queries, or shed light on some unknown truths about these headlines…
– 30 Is The New 20. Fact. (And thus age should not be a factor in the debate)
It’s been evident for a while now. The average age in the men’s top 100 is 28, and in the women’s, it’s about 26. The level of play has accelerated over the past years. Where once teenagers laid claim to the Grand Slam titles, now circumstances are such that they’re struggling to find an opening at regular events, let alone the prestigious tournaments!
Most male players now only play regularly on the official ATP tour in the latter stages of their career. Guys are fighting on with the view that breaking through at age 27, 28, or even 29, isn’t actually too late in their careers to make an impact. Even Radek Stepanek – a regular on the ATP circuit, and several times a champion – humbled himself to play a Challenger tournament or two last year.
He was ranked in the top 50 at the time.
Seriously, tennis is in a day and age – on both tours – in which a player is more likely to retire from lack of financial security, than from old age.
And now let’s look in the other direction – not at the flailing youths, but at the thriving thirties(ish).
Taking a glance at the victors from week one of competition, here is what we see:
Roger Federer, 33. Venus Williams, 34. David Ferrer, 32. Stan Wawrinka, 29. Maria Sharapova, 27.
Not one champion is younger than age 27, and each one of them is a regular top player. Serena, dominant world number one, turns 34 this year. She’s still winning Slams, and her hunger has only increased with her years. And we’ll take Roger as an example from the men. After everything he’s achieved, he still overcame the doubters last year to put together probably the most consistently good season on tour. Plus, he made his name a favourite at every Slam.
Serena once said that she wanted leave tennis at the peak of her career. Personally, I think that the game means too much to her now for her to do that. But I could well be wrong – meaning that the champion still thinks she can get even better. Which leads us to our next point…
– The Likes Of Novak And Rafa Could Still Be Yet To Peak!
Roger Federer was in his thirties when he won his most recent Grand Slam. And has his game really got much worse… or has his closest competition got better?
Stan Wawrinka won his first Slam when he was older than both Novak and Rafa are now. Cilic suddenly got going at 25. Everything points to indicate that not only do Novak and Rafa have years ahead of them to recover from any injuries they might face, but also – with competition hotting up – they could yet be to reach their full potential.
The same can even be said for Murray. And practically every other player younger than him. Would these ‘Experts’ seriously push all the 27-and-under none-achievers into retirement?
Of course not! Because whether they consider it or not, they know that these players have years ahead of them to mature!
The tour needs the up-and-comers, and the tour needs the champions. Every one makes it what it is. What right has anyone outside of these clashes, really, to dangle exit signs in front of the players?
As the wonderful Li Na showed us only last year, when she became the first present legend to hang up her racquet:
RETIREMENT WILL HAPPEN EVENTUALLY.
So just enjoy this Golden Era before it’s too late. Before you realise what you’ve missed.
– No One Is Ready To Take Over Right Now
It just shows how vital a figure Roger is that I’m using him as an example again.
So, Roger is a 17 time Grand Slam champion. You say that’s a thing of the past? Well, he’s still ranked at number two in the world. So, if Roger’s in a ‘Leaving Soon’ position, does that mean that every single other player ranked below him must retire also? Because they’re all less successful.
That just leaves us with Djokovic… But hang on – we’re concerned about him too, aren’t we?
That leaves us with no one!
People say Roger will ‘Ruin His Career’ if he plays his way into decline. But here’s the thing: Any wobbles that Roger has now aren’t going to take away any of his 17 Grand Slams. They are set in stone, and both his titles and his status as a legend are going nowhere. If he leaves, he’ll Ruin The Tour!
As stated before, everyone plays their part towards the contribution of Tennis.
Venus Williams fights through a permanent, energy-sapping disease every day of her life. Yet she, with the spirit of a champion, is still a part of the world’s elite. She’s an imposing figure to every one of her opponents.
Who can take over Serena’s dominance? Federer, Nadal and Djokovic’s dominance? True, the likes of Kei and Milos are making strides. But Kei, poor guy, is injured more often than he’s not. And Milos is prone to the shock loss once too often.
In fact, that’s the case for pretty much all the young challengers. None of them could grip the tours in the way that the big names are doing right now. Maybe you’d find that more interesting – having a few different winners.
But the tennis standard of those winners would be a lower standard than that of the greatest generation, who constantly force the bleak future to fight and to improve and to persevere.
– The Love Is For The Legends
Of course they all have their little fan bases: Kei’s Japanese worshippers. Bouchard’s ‘Genie Army’ (ugh.) (I’m sorry, I had to.)
But wherever in the world the big names go, they always have a vast portion of the crowd cheering them on.
Federer, Nadal – even Serena, these days – can guarantee that whichever country in whichever continent they fly to, they’ll have hoards of people screaming out their names in encouragement.
And that’s what drives them. That’s what renews their strength, what gives them the energy they didn’t know they had.
How many times have you heard the words, “The crowd helped me through”? (I’m especially conscious of Murray at Wimbledon here.)
Only recently, Roger expressed that these days, if he was sentenced to the outside courts, after experiencing the roar of the great stages, he would probably leave the game.
Thankfully, that isn’t about to happen.
The stars have the love and support of the nations. And while that keeps going, they keep going.
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I could keep going, too, but I think that those points cover the Go-To-Retirement scene fairly well for now. I just have one more point to make…
– CONTROVERSIAL HEADLINES ARE TO MAKE YOU CLICK!
I know how this works. The offenders know how this works. They’ve put these frustrating headlines out there time and again because their statistics tell them that it makes you click on them. Whether it’s aggravation or interest that moves your finger, you do it.
So, if you want to get rid of them, try NOT CLICKING!!!
Because if you’re aggravated, forgetting about it will make you feel a whole lot better. An if you’re interested… You can be sure that you’ve heard it all before.
Plus, if you surround yourself with the sport, you’ll probably hear about it sooner or later, anyway.
For the sake of tennis – and its stars – let’s stop clicking.
Thanks for reading once again!
And thank you to everyone who has consistently been coming back to check out the site! I know it’s been slow going recently, but obviously I have other things that I’m doing… I hope to speed things up soon! And also to sort out the design around here, which isn’t the most eye-catching thing out there right now…
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Look out for pre-Australian Open and plain-Australian Open posts here in the coming days!
See you next time!