RUSSIA’S Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova became one of the most outspoken critics of her home country’s invasion, but perhaps the bravest voice from Ukraine this week has come from Leonid Stanislavskyi.
Readers probably won’t have heard of Leonid. He’s not a Slam winner or an old-time Wimbledon favourite, he’s a 97-year-old amateur player from Kharkiv, where he has lived for 60 years.
He told the International Tennis Federation this week he has received food parcels and is well, despite the Russian bombardment of the city.
“I survived World War and I will survive this war,” he said.
Stanislavskyi is a regular competitor at ITF events, nad competed at the 2021 Super seniors Championships in Mallorca, Spain last October.
“We need this war to stop, I want to play tennis,” he said.
Amen to that.
Oops, wrong sister
SERENA Williams took a dig at the The New York Times this week after the newspaper published a story about her Serena Ventures organisation, but then printed an image of her sister Venus.
Williams posted on Twitter to point out the mistake, and she used the situation as an example to why she raises money for those who are “overlooked.”
She added that even she is overlooked by using this article as an example.
She ended her caption telling the newspaper that “You can do better.”
The Times’ business section’s Twitter account responded to Williams’s tweet explaining how the mistake was just made in their paper version, not the online version. They also said they would be publishing a correction in the following day’s paper.
Serena Ventures has raised $111 million.
“At Serena Ventures we envision a world in which genius isn’t stifled by a lack of resources. A future in which historically overlooked people and markets are empowered for a more inclusive economy,” her website states.
But there’s more …
In an interview on CNN on Friday Serena spoke about Alexander Zverev’s recent outburst at the Mexican Open.
“I would probably be in jail if I did that,” Williams said. “Like, literally, no joke.”
She obviously forgot the disgraceful way she treated the umpire at the 2018 US Open final.
Three penalties — including a point penalty — and a $17,000 fine for speaking out against an umpire and smashing her racket in frustration during the 2018 US Open final against Naomi Osaka.
Pot, Kettle etc etc, anyone?
THE big ‘on court’ news of the week saw Australian Open finalists Ashleigh Barty and Danielle Collins both withdrawing from Indian Wells next week.
World No. 1 Barty also withdrew from the Miami Open (March 22) that will follow the BNP Paribas Open event in the Californian desert.
Barty has long been a proponent of a ‘normal life’ around tennis and has recently spoke about the stresses of global travel 10 months a year.
“Unfortunately my body has not recovered the way I’d hoped after the Australian Open, and I have not been able to adequately prepare for Indian Wells and Miami,” Barty said in a statement.
“I don’t believe I am at the level necessary to win these events, and as a result I have decided to withdraw from both tournaments.
Barty said she aims to be back in action with the Australian team in the qualifying round for the Billie Jean King Cup the week of April 11-17.
TENNIS talk switches to California next as Daniil Medvedev will make his first appearance since being crowned men’s world No. 1 at Indian Wells.
But who will not be there in the desert?
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty, Danielle Collins, Stan Wawrinka, Serena Williams, Bianca Andreescu, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, to name just a few.
Federer hasn’t played since losing in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year and it doesn’t look likely that he will be back at the All England Club this summer.
Djokovic has given the US a wide berth after being told his unvaxxed status would make him unwelcome.
Ash Barty has said she needs time to recover from her Australian triumph, Danielle Collins, a surprise finalist in Melbourne, looks like she is trying to manage her return to a hectic tennis schedule after a horrific 2021 and Stan Wawrinka plans to return from injury in Monte Carlo.
As for Serena – there’s plenty of speculation out there – but don’t be surprised if she hangs up the racket for good sometime in 2022.
2019 US Open champion Andreescu has her own mental health problems to deal with and fellow Canadian Raonic, the former world No. 3 has slipped to 127 in the rankings and there is no news of an impending comeback.
Poor Nishikori hasn’t played since Indian Wells last October. It look unlikely, after a series of injuries, he will contest a major event again.
Covid update: The French government announced this week that vaccination requirements to enter public facilities would be lifted on March 14.
And that opens the way for Novak Djokovic—to compete in the French Open and other tournaments held in France.
The measure also removes requirements for Monte Carlo, and could see Djokovic playing there.
The 34-year-old Serb is not competing at Indian Wells next week and is not entered for Miami later this month.
The change will also allow French player Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who is unvaccinated, to compete.
BUT Djokovic has been warned he is not welcome at the Italian Open in Rome, despite Italian government officials confirming he will be able to play.
The president of Italy’s National Olympic Committee is not happy with the decision.
“It absolutely wouldn’t be right,” Malago told Italian state broadcaster RAI.
“Even if you shower in a camper and eat and sleep in improvised situations, the message is totally wrong.
“I get dozens of emails every day from mums and dads who are furious because their children don’t have the green pass and cannot do sport.”
The WTA has a new partner, not as if many noticed.
The women’s governing body announced what they termed a ‘landmark partnership’ this week as they introduced Hologic as the global title sponsor of the WTA Tour.
Most will have never heard of Hologic, including this writer, so here’s a quick overview.
Hologic is a medical technology company, focussed on improving women’s health and wellbeing, which would make it a great fit for the WTA.
“Hologic and the WTA come together with a collective purpose as pioneering advocates for women,” Hologic Chairman, President and CEO Steve MacMillan, said of the deal.
“We are proud to stand with the WTA in its commitment to the highest integrity and values.
“Ultimately, our partnership allows us to jointly raise the profile of women even higher and to share the importance of early detection and treatment with women across the world.”
World No.1 Ash Barty supported the new sponsor: “As a professional athlete who relies on my health to perform at the highest level, I’m excited that Hologic has partnered with the WTA,” she said.
Hologic’s initiative to invest in women’s tennis shows its commitment to women’s health and women’s sport. I look forward to playing on the Hologic WTA Tour and the impact this partnership will generate for women globally.”
AT just 18, Emma Raducanu had achieved something even the most senior players can go their whole career without — a US Open championship.
Flushing Meadows was Raducanu’s only third ever professional tournament, but she told Harpers Bazaar this week the decision to pursie career in tennis came quite late on.
“The moment [that] it really clicked in that I wanted to be a tennis player was actually pretty recently,” she said.
“I kept my education up all the way until finishing my A Levels, so maybe mid-GCSEs I was like, ‘okay, I’m not going to go to college, I’m going to try and be a professional tennis player, see how it works.’
“I always had my education to fall back on.”
Now that’s what you call a smart girl.
ELINA Svitolina put on the yellow and blue colours of Ukraine and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Monterrey Open, deciding she could do more for her country by playing than boycotting the match.
Top-seeded Svitolina earlier said she wouldn’t play against Potapova in Mexico or against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until the ITF, the WTA and ATP barred competitors from those countries using any national flags or anthems.
The governing bodies issued a statement confirming that Russian and Belarusian players will still be allowed to compete at the top level, but without national flags.
And finally … given the times we currently live, a headline on the allAfrica website was possibly the worst of the week: Zimbabwe: Davis Cup Play Offs Explode Into Action.
Memo to editor: not the most appropriate in these troubled times.