WASHINGTON, May 26, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
According to a New York Times story written by Marc Stein, published online Sunday and appearing in print Monday, World TeamTennis will play its entire 2020 season at a resort site in West Virginia. An official announcement by Carlos Silva, the WTT’s chief executive, is due this week.
Although the ATP, WTA and ITF professional tennis tours have been suspended until at least August 3, the nine-team World TeamTennis, which normally has operated since its founding in 1974 by Billie Jean King following the completion of Wimbledon and before the start of North American hardcourt swing, plans to stage its three-week season from July 12 to August 1 at The Greenbrier, a luxury resort situated in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It remains to be seen whether fans will be allowed to attend matches at The Greenbrier, located about 250 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.
Among those committed to play World TeamTennis include reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 US Open runner up Sloane Stephens and twins Bob and Mike Bryan. World TeamTennis matches consist of sets of men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles.
World TeamTennis will be offering $5 million in total prize money, including $1 million during the playoffs. CBS and ESPN are confirmed to be the WTT broadcast partners. World TeamTennis franchises represent Chicago, New York, Orange County, Calif.; Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, Springfield, Ill.; Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.
Unanswered questions …
There’s plenty of unanswered questions this week in what should have been the first week of the Roland Garros fortnight. Here are a few worth pondering as Tennis Channel in the United States fills much of its programming this and next week showing 2019 French Open day-by-day coverage:
• Can Rafael Nadal win a 13th Roland Garros championship to raise his total of major titles to 20 and equal Roger Federer’s record for men?
• Will Serena Williams finally win a 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court, which would be her fourth Roland Garros singles title?
• Will Novak Djokovic capture an 18th major title to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?
• Can Ashleigh Barty repeat her 2017 French Open triumph, which was her first major championship?
Back on clay today! Would be rude not to 🦓🧡 pic.twitter.com/nyXDDqp1o8
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) May 25, 2020
When Naomi met Stefanos … and Iga, too
Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is quickly becoming a master at interviewing other tennis players. After recently sharing chats with American Frances Tiafoe and Gaël Monfils of France, Osaka and rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas shared an Instagram Live chat Saturday. Then, she got together via IG Live with Iga Swiatek of Poland on Sunday.
After Tsitsipas pranked Osaka into believing he uses olive oil and wasabi as part of his hair care routine, he took on a more serious and philosophical tone to describe what inspires him:
“What inspires me is to deliver a feeling to people who watch me, who get to see my artistry in any way. I want to show people a better side of life,” said Tsitsipas. “I’m not sure if I’ve contributed much to that, but it’s something that I (aspire) to. I want to leave a legacy behind. I think everyone does.”
🚨PRANK ALERT🚨@StefTsitsipas reveals his “hair care routine” 😂
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 23, 2020
One of the takeaways from listening to Osaka’s conversation with Swiatek was the soon-to-be 19-year-old admitted she did not watch much tennis as a kid and didn’t have any favorite players.
“It’s weird, because I wasn’t even watching tennis when I was little,” said Swiatek. “When I got home after school and practices, I was so tired of tennis and I was asking why my parents were event watching because I had enough tennis on court.
“When I went to my first junior Grand Slam at the French Open, I realized that tennis greater than I thought and I fell in love. I was watching Rafa (Nadal) a lot because I love to play on clay, and it’s Rafa, right?”
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Mary Pierce: Twenty years ago …
Frenchwoman Mary Pierce won the 2000 Roland Garros women’s singles title. She is tweeting about her memorable French Open fortnight.
I remember my @rolandgarros 1st round match on Philippe Chatrier 20 years ago very clearly. After I won I heard a little voice inside of me say: “maybe this is your year.” I kept it to myself, went about my business, match by match, always remembering that voice inside. #MaryRG20 pic.twitter.com/r6dBzXglSK
— Mary Pierce (@_MaryPierce) May 25, 2020
The Way Back Machine – Roger Federer, Roland Garros, 1999
On May 25, 1999, then-17-year-old Roger Federer played his first main draw Grand Slam match, at the French Open, where he lost to third-seeded Patrick Rafter in four sets on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
On this day in 1999, a 17-year-old Swiss played the first Grand Slam match of his career, falling to then-No. 3 Patrick Rafter in the first round of the French Open.
— TENNIS (@Tennis) May 25, 2020
Behind The Racquet — Petra Kvitova
After Petra Kvitova was attacked by a knife-wielding burglar in her apartment in Prostejov, Czech Republic, on Dec. 20, 2016, which required extensive surgery to repair her left hand, the two-time Wimbledon champion felt her love of tennis had been taken away from her. As months passed, Kvitova begged to have the chance to play – and win – again. “It is what I needed,” she explained last August in a first-person essay she wrote for the Instagram series Behind The Racquet. She returned in time for the 2017 French Open, where she was seeded fifteenth, and won her first round match against Julia Boserup of the United States, 6-3, 6-2.
“I didn’t really know how I was going to feel when I stepped on the court for the first time again at Roland Garros in 2017. I didn’t know how I would react and I was thinking maybe I would cry. I thought I would be filled with tears, but my overriding emotion was pure happiness. I, unfortunately, had some scary flashbacks during the match, but most of my thoughts were of tennis, which I was proud of. I do have to admit that I cried after the match and I heard that the girls were crying watching me win in the locker room, too. I have a different perspective on life and see things a little differently now, but that competitiveness to win every time I step on court hasn’t left me. I always want to improve and I work for that winning feeling. I have to remind myself, win or lose, I am thankful to be there playing, which I could have lost in that moment a couple years ago.”
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“The story of my attack is unfortunately not great, but how I came back is what I want people to know. It was obviously not something I expected to deal with and made me feel empty inside for a while. The attacker took my love, tennis, away from me. I didn’t want to just come back, I wanted to come back and play at the highest level. It was like a challenge for me. Mentally, it helped having resounding support from everyone in my life and others I didn’t know. I had lots of messages and emails, I had fellow tennis players, even tournaments, who filmed videos wishing me a good recovery, which helped me get through everything. It was heart warming to see all the faces smiling as I made my way back to my first tournament. Some players didn’t know how to act towards me at first, but there was a feeling of comfort to see all of them again. I truly missed the competition of being on the court. As a tennis player you have to deal with many tough aspects such as being on the road for long periods, the ups and downs on court. I knew I missed the sport when none of that mattered and I was just begging to have the chance to play and win, that was what I needed. I didn’t really know how I was going to feel when I stepped on the court for the first time again at Roland Garros in 2017. I didn’t know how I would react and I was thinking maybe I would cry. I thought I would be filled with tears, but my overriding emotion was pure happiness. I, unfortunately, had some scary flashbacks during the match, but most of my thoughts were of tennis, which I was proud of. I do have to admit that I cried after the match and I heard that the girls were crying watching me win in the locker room too. I have a different perspective on life and see things a little differently now, but that competitiveness to win every time I step on court hasn’t left me. I always want to improve and I work for that winning feeling. I have to remind myself, win or lose, I am thankful to be there playing, which I could have lost in that moment a couple years ago.”
What they’re sharing on social media
Barbara Schett-Eagle, Eurosport tennis presenter / Missing Roland Garros
— Barbara Schett-Eagle (@Babsschett) May 24, 2020
Serena Williams, three-time Roland Garros champion / Judging bread
— TENNIS (@Tennis) May 22, 2020
Elina Svitolina’s latest Tik-Tok / At my new job
— Elina Svitolina (@ElinaSvitolina) May 25, 2020