Serena’s biggest rival? Herself
After a dominant summer in London at Wimbledon and the Olympics, Serena Williams is the overwhelming favorite in the media. Check out this breakdown of the women’s seeds by SI’s Jon Wertheim:
If the men’s game is a study in relentless top-heaviness, the women’s game is a demonstration of relentless parity. Seven different players have won the last seven majors. Five recent No. 1 players have won one or zero majors. But if there’s an unfamiliar champ in New York, it will mean that Serena Williams won’t win. Which is difficult to envision right now.
Paul Newman (no, not that one) of the London Independent says Serena only needs to play inside the lines:
The 30-year-old American has blown her lid in spectacular fashion at her last two US Opens, but as she looked ahead to the tournament beginning here today she insisted: “I don’t feel pressure. My Dad said the only pressure you have is the pressure you put on yourself, so I don’t really feel any pressure or anything. I don’t put any pressure on myself. If I win, that would be great. If I lose, I realise I’m going to go home and be devastated. But there’s always tomorrow.”
Peter Bodo at ESPN.com says Sloane Stephens is his upset special pick for the first round.
Greg Bishop at the New York Times documents Kim Clijsters’ final tournament before retirement. She’ll be missed:
As the end draws near, Clijsters seemed sentimental. When she started on the WTA Tour, players like Steffi Graf and Monica Seles left her in awe. It took her some time to adjust to just being in their presence. Now she plays and returns to the hotel, to her family. That is different, too. Another reason to walk away.
Clijsters’s retirement will remove from the Tour one of its most popular players. One after another, her top competitors lobbed compliments Clijsters’s way on Saturday. Stosur called Clijsters “the kind of player you don’t want to see go.” Venus Williams said Clijsters “had a resurgence like no other.” Azarenka called Clijsters “an inspiration, definitely.”
Clijsters’ first-round opponent, 16-year-old Victoria Duval, is a winner just for getting to Flushing Meadows. Wayne Coffey of the New York Daily News tells the gripping story of the Haitian-American’s journey to the U.S:
That Duval is a resilient and emotionally sturdy player should perhaps not be a surprise, given her life’s journey. At 7 years old in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, she and several cousins were held hostage by armed robbers in her aunt’s house before being freed. “It was traumatizing, (but) worse things have happened to people,” Duval said. “I’m lucky I got out of it. I’ve kind of erased that all from my mind.” Victoria’s parents, Jean-Maurice and Nadine Duval, both of whom are physicians, decided to move the family to Florida almost immediately, though her father kept up with his obstetrics/gynecology practice at a Port-au-Prince clinic and would shuttle back and forth. Then, on Jan. 12, 2010, the earthquake hit, and Jean-Maurice Duval was buried alive beneath the rubble of the family home. His legs broken and left arm shattered and seven busted ribs puncturing his lung, Jean-Maurice Duval somehow dug himself out, and ultimately was airlifted to a Fort Lauderdale hospital, thanks to the generosity of a family in the tennis club Victoria was competing with at the time. Jean-Maurice suffered paralysis in his left arm, but he’d somehow survived, a miracle that his daughter has never lost sight of.
And Hayley Mick of the Toronto Globe and Mail reveals the science and superstition behind racquet stringing.