With the US Open starting Monday, it’s that time again to have tennis on our brains 24/7. If you stick through the tournament the entire fortnight, you may have experienced some of the thoughts below. Just a quick tennis infographic.
Make that three withdrawn tournaments for Maria Sharapova this summer. After pulling out of Stanford and Toronto, Sharapova announced today she has also withdrawn from the US Open, citing right shoulder bursitis.
Come around every big tournament and commentators will always remind you of Sharapova’s surgically repaired shoulder. But that always felt like old news five years on. The shoulder surgery occurred in 2008 and this is 2013. So no more problems, right? Not so fast.
According to Tennis.com, Sharapova has been experiencing shoulder pain since June, with a possible injury time out of 2-3 months. Sharapova’s summer draws eerie comparisons to her ill-fated 2008 season. After a stellar start to 2008, Sharapova then exited Wimbledon in R2, dismally played one USO Series tournament, and then withdrew from the US Open. Let’s hope the comparisons end there, as fans know the end result was a Sharapova outage until May 2009.
Sharapova for her part expressed her disappointment at the decision stating, “It’s certainly not an easy decision to make ahead of one of my favorite tournaments, but I know it’s the right one that will get me back on the courts soon. I plan on taking the next few weeks off, receiving proper treatment and rehabilitation.”
Here’s to hoping with proper care the bursitis does not result in a more serious injury. And if you were wondering what bursitis even is, here’s WebMD for you. Just don’t go thinking you have this ailment now.
Coming August 29, 2013, Nike will present the Nike Tech Pack dubbing it the “future of sportswear”. Nike brought together 17 of their leading global athletes in an advertisement promoting the new endeavor including several tennis champions.
Check out the advertisement below to see Rafael Nadal, Li Na, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams among others.
Sloane Stephens notched just her second win over a Top 10 opponent, Maria Sharapova, in a three set win — 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 — in the second round of the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old took a big step forward in her US Open preparations winning the last 2 sets against Sharapova, who quite literally turned into an error machine (16 winners, 62 unforced errors), giving up a 2-0 lead in the second set.
The high profile win will no doubt increase the already present pressure on Stephens heading into the last Grand Slam of the season. But will this attention help or fog her path? While we’re at it, is Stephens courting a fame she is not yet ready for?
After Stephens’ shock win over Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals, one of Stephens’ wishes was “…to have a lot more Twitter followers.” During a recent UnderArmour Q&A, she reiterated that stance by saying one of the best parts of being a pro athlete is “more twitter followers”. Also, when told she was listed as one of the most marketable athletes by a magazine her eyes reportedly “lit up“. Compound the above with the fact that Stephens willingly went along with the “Serena is my mentor” narrative when it was false, and you wouldn’t exactly be remiss to believe the young star actually did somewhat enjoy the attention.
That is, until things got rough.
When she’s winning, she’s pure gold. After losses, however, she’s deflecting the pressure with eyebrow raising comments. “Everyone’s going to be like, ‘You should do really well here because you do well at all the Slams.’ I mean, if I lose first round, you guys, just don’t be upset.” For the year thus far, Stephens has collected a paltry 11-12 record outside of the Slams since Washington D.C.
Perhaps a part of the problem is her perception of the expectations and of her own fame. Stephens has made clear the recent pressure by US media has been omnipresent. Yet, Google “Sloane Stephens” in Google News and you’ll receive only 21,200 results to Serena Williams’ 119,000. There was also this quote: “I don’t live in the real world…I mean, there are no other 20-year-olds like me..might be a few, like Miley Cyrus or something, but other than that I’m pretty much riding solo on this train.”
With her solid performances at the majors, though, 2013 has brought upon a new reality for Stephens. Speaking of her current relationship with fans, Stephens said, “They’re very hands on and they want to just grab you like you’re a sister or a grandchild. Like I don’t know, it’s intense…I don’t plan on going outside because I know that I will probably not make it out alive.”
Let’s be real. Sloane Stephens is no Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova in the fame department, so we don’t even dare think of what she’ll do or say if she ever reaches their level. But there hasn’t been an up and coming player in (my) recent memory that has appeared to embrace tennis’ off-court offerings as much as Stephens (see also: W / ESPN / Time magazine features, Ellen appearance, growing sponsors, etc.), yet also be so vocally displeased with what it may bring. It’s clear the push and pull of what comes with being a rising American tennis star has caught up with Stephens.
Maybe it’s a millennial thing — the claim of wanting to be low-key, when in actuality attention is oft a welcome gesture. The only problem here is that the attention by the media can’t be controlled or dictated by the player. Everyone wants success, but on their own terms and Sloane is no different.
With her win over Sharapova, Stephens will garner more headlines and possibly fall back into enjoying the moment like before. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, like the players before her, she will have to learn how to deal with the attention she seemingly wants and doesn’t want and avoid any slumps.
Of course, Stephens is still very young, with many years ahead of her to figure out these new experiences. Give her time and it will all work itself out. For now, with the US Open less than two weeks away, a win against the World No. 3 should boost her confidence immensely.
We’ll bring the extra security, if Sloane can continue to bring her A-game.
Maria Sharapova announced today she will not be in the Rogers Cup field due to a lingering hip injury sustained during Wimbledon.
“I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to play in Toronto next week as it’s one of the best and most important tournaments of the year,” said Sharapova.
This marks the second straight tournament withdrawal for Sharapova, after the Bank of the West Classic. With that, Sharapova will tentatively play only one lead up tournament ahead of the US Open — the Western & Southern Open. Play in Cincinnati is slated to begin August 12. Sharapova’s last match was June 26.
Some speculate the pull outs are to give Sharapova more time with new coach Jimmy Conners. With Sharapova though, health has always been a priority, so it’s no surprise caution is being taken here.
But it’s not all bad for Toronto fans. You can still catch the face of Sugarpova at a fan event at Maple Leaf Gardens. And if you’re really lucky, you could win a trip for 2 to have a hit and lunch with Maria herself during the off-season in LA benefitting Tennis Canada.