- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

Even without the sublime presence of Richard Williams and God bless his grease board, wherever it rests this year's Wimbledon wasn't short on sheer goofiness.
And no, we're not talking about Marat Safin.
From the breathless London tabs to the wet 'n' soggy rain delays, there's something about the All England Club that seems to inspire bad ideas, bratty behavior and feverish bouts of foot-in-mouth disease.
(In the case of Jelena Dokic's dad, it's probably one too many pints. But we digress).
Let's take this year's victims one at a time:

Read the book, already!
In his new book, John McEnroe has a few harsh words for his former wife, actress Tatum O'Neal. Actually, he has plenty (imagine that).
Last week, O'Neal blasted back during a nationally televised chat with Barbara Walters and by the way, the Vaseline lens smear effect was tremendous claiming that McEnroe used cocaine, marijuana and steroids while playing.
McEnroe promptly told reporters that O'Neal's allegations were "disappointing and ridiculous." But when asked to definitively deny steroid use, Mr. I-Tell-It-Like-It-Is refused, telling his inquisitors to "read the book."
Uh, John? Take some of your own advice: Answer the question!

Tennis doesn't need flag waving
That's the word from a CNNSI columnist, who argues there's no room for jingoism in the sport.
As our friends across the pond might say, rubbish.
If anything, tennis needs more flag waving, more face paint, more nationalistic fervor and less Evian-sipping spectator indifference.
The most exciting match in recent memory? Last year's Goran Ivanisevic-Pat Rafter Wimbledon final, played on a Monday before a screaming, chanting, rabble-rousing mob of unabashedly partisan commoners.
Didn't the World Cup teach us anything?

Steffi Graf is not a grass court player
You would think that it takes one to know one. Apparently not.
Making up for her father's absence, two-time defending Wimby champ Venus Williams remarked that she "didn't consider Steffi a grass court player. She never really came in and never served and volleyed."
Adding insult to, well, insult, Williams said that Belgian qualifier Els Callens and 1998 finalist Nathalie Tauziat were better grass court players than Graf.
Of course, Ms. Andre Agassi only won seven titles at Wimbledon which means that it will be at least five more years before Williams is qualified to make such idiotic statements again.

Williams sisters are bad for the game
The economy isn't the only thing melting down in Argentina. On the eve of the Championships, Gabriela Sabatini told a London newspaper that Venus and Serena "hit the ball too hard for the good of the game."
"Today you don't see too much strategy," Sabatini added. "It's mostly hard hitting and it seems few players other than Jennifer Capriati can give the Williams sisters a match. They hit the ball hard, then harder still. You feel sorry for the girl on the other side of the net."
Actually, the only people we feel sorry for are the ones who had to suffer through the no-power, moonball-laden snorefests that used to dominate the women's game.

Wimbledon should rip up the turf
Lleyton Hewitt has likened Wimbledon's grass courts to a jigsaw. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario once quipped that "grass is for cows." An increasing number of clay and hard court-specialists most notably Gustavo Kuerten are bypassing the tournament altogether.
But does that mean the All England Club should pave over Centre Court with DecoTurf II? No way.
Sure, grass favors big servers like Richard Krajicek. So what? Clay favors speedy sliders like Kuerten. No one complains about that.
As Yevgeny Kafelnikov of all people pointed out following his loss to Xavier Malisse, the real problem with the green stuff is that the grass court season is too short.
"Wimbledon, of course, is a very unique surface," he said. "We only have four tournaments throughout the whole year. To be able to play well enough I don't think it's enough time. I feel there should be more tournaments so people would have much more time to get used to it."
We couldn't agree more.

Leave poor Anna K. alone
Finally, the WTA Tour expressed displeasure with the BBC following a testy on-air interview with cash cow Anna Kournikova.
Following a first-round loss, Kournikova reportedly lost her temper when reporter Garry Richardson suggested she consider playing some lower-tier tournaments, much as Andre Agassi did when his ranking plummeted to No. 141.
After snapping "I just don't think you should phrase the question that way," the divine Miss K stood up and asked that the taped segment start over.
To its credit, the BBC later aired the entire interview.
WTA Tour spokesman Chris de Maria said talks were held with the BBC about the interview.
"We've had discussions with the BBC and said perhaps they could have been a little more sensitive to the player that lost," a WTA spokesman told the Associated Press. "Sometimes you have to take an extra pause to understand the sensitivities of the player that lost."
Fair enough just so long as the tour stops splashing Kournikova's comely mug all over every media guide, ticket brochure, magazine cover and Enrique Iglesias video it can find.

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