Watch A Serena-Venus Final Like It’s 1999, Again

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Imagine not too long ago, if somebody told you that your Saturday night entertainment would comprise of watching vintage tennis matches via YouTube videos, you probably would have laughed. However, pandemic times caused by the coronavirus have suspended professional tennis until at least the middle of July.

In the spirit of promoting camaraderie among tennis fans worldwide, The Tennis Podcast in London came up with the idea of “Party like it’s 1999,” taken from an old Prince lyric, and suggested everyone watch the 1999 Lipton Championships women’s singles final, the first singles final between Serena and Venus Williams. Then, tune in as co-hosts David Law, Catherine Whitaker and Matt Roberts would discuss their thoughts on the match during their weekly podcast Monday, part of their #TennisRelived campaign.

Both Williams sisters were up-and-coming teenagers in 1999; Serena was just 17 and Venus 19. They had won six titles between them when they met on Stadium Court at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Fla. – none of them majors.

As it happened, Venus beat Serena, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. It was her third title of the year and 10th of her career. It was her 1st WTA Tier I title of 1999 and her second overall. It was also Venus’s second Lipton Championships (now the Miami Open) title at the event, having also won in 1998.

A nice gesture by World Team Tennis

World Team Tennis, the mixed-gender pro tennis league with a team format that’s been a mainstay of summer tennis in the United States since its founding by Billie Jean King in 1973, announced a payout of $1,000 to each of its contracted players and coaches this week. According to TennisNow (Twitter: @Tennis_Now) in a letter to its players, the WTT’s gesture comes “without strings and is in addition to money that the players will earn/win during the upcoming season.”

The WTT, whose 2020 season is scheduled to run July 12 to August 1, had added $1 million in prize money for its 2020 season. According its website, the WTT plans to update it staff on May 1 regarding the fate of its season.

Recently, the WTT released a statement regarding the coronavirus pandemic:

“We are monitoring the coronavirus closely as it continues to have a profound impact on the world, including upcoming sporting events like ours. The 2020 World TeamTennis season is scheduled to begin on July 12 and it is our hope that we will be bringing marquee team tennis to our nine WTT cities, as well as Las Vegas for the WTT Playoffs three weeks later. Keeping our players, fans, and staff safe is at the forefront of our decision-making. We will continue to heed the recommendations by the CDC and WHO over the next 30 days and will post an update on Apr. 6, 2020.”

Halep talks honestly about not being able to play

Ever wonder what it’s like being a Wimbledon champion at a time like this? It’s a question host Mats Wilander put to reigning Wimbledon women’s singles champion Simona Halep on Friday during a Eurosport UK Tennis Legends video podcast.

Speaking from her home in Bucharest, Romania, the two-time Grand Slam champion and current World No. 2 said: “I was preparing myself one week before they closed everything. I was self-isolating because, you know, I was a little bit scared about the virus and about what I was hearing about China and other countries. It’s not easy, and I  think for everybody it’s not easy. It’s a tough moment because we can’t go out, but let’s accept it. Let’s keep our minds positive because it’s the most important thing in these days. Anyway, I couldn’t play at Indian Wells because I was injured but I was so sad hearing the news that everything is going to get cancelled because of this situation. So, I think … we struggle. I have to be honest!” 

Halep continued: “We struggle. I struggle. We miss the Tour. I miss the Tour. I miss the players and all the people that are getting involved in all the tournaments. But I can take a positive thing. I have been home since February and I have never been home for so long. … It’s a different life. So, I just have to take it and try to enjoy it.”

The 30-minute “vodcast”, moderated by Wilander from his home in Hailey, Idaho (USA), also featured former pro tennis player Tommy Haas, who is now the BNP Paribas Open tournament director, speaking from his California residence; and Hall of Fame great Boris Becker in London.

What they’re tweeting

Brayden Schnur, Canada, ranked No. 177

Iga Swiatek, Poland, ranked No. 49

Tennis Ontario, The Ontario Tennis Association