FRENCH FLOWERS: Patrick D’Arvor wrote, “When I think of Roland Garros, I think first of the chestnuts in flower, then of young women and the strange pink pollen that falls on the alleys and in some hearts, but not all.”
IT ALL BEGINS WITH A DREAMER: Harriet Tubman is now scheduled to be on the $20 bill. This brings to mind a comment by Sharon Smith-Mauney. When reflecting on the late California visionary Mark Manning, the Northern California official quoted Tubman, who said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and to change the world.”
FAREWELL, BLACKIE: When writing on gambling earlier this year, we meant to use this comment by writer Blackie Sherrod: “If you bet on a horse, that’s gambling. If you bet you can make three spades, that’s entertainment. If you bet cotton will go up three points, that’s business.” The legendary 96-year-old Dallas sportswriter died in April.
FORGET ABOUT THE PULITZER: To some it was a meaningless trifle. Inside Tennis was used as a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle. But Times writer John Branch sent out a tweet that said, “Forget about Pulitzer, don’t think you’ve made [it] in the business until you’ve been a clue at NYT crossword.”
IT’S A NADAL WORLD AFTER ALL: Rafa‘s spring clay rebound drew attention. With a hint of glee one broadcaster announced,”Rafa’s back!” “His ball,” added Brett Haber, “[now] has so many RPMs on it that it creates its own wind.” Justin Gimelstob added, “You have to have a protractor to figure out the angles Rafa is getting.”
Nadal dominated on clay for almost a decade before faltering last year. But this spring the greatest clay court player in history again prevailed in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, before losing to Andy Murray in the Madrid semis. Rafa reflected on his wobbly confidence, saying, “Last year I was competing against myself. This year I’m competing against rivals. [Before] I could not get over the anxiety.”
But he’s not getting ahead of himself. “In five, ten years,” he said, “I’m going to be leading a normal, ordinary life. If I don’t keep in mind that everything that’s happening to me is momentary, then in the future the bump is going to be pretty huge. If you elevate yourself too much, you have much farther to fall.”
BATTLE OF THE SEXES TO THE BIG SCREEN: Emma Stone is Billie Jean King and Steve Carell is a dead ringer for Bobby Riggs in the upcoming 2017 movie “Battle of the Sexes,” with comedian Sarah Silverman and actress-tennis enthusiast Elizabeth Shue (who once played in a Futures tournament) also in the cast. Husband-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (“Little Miss Sunshine”) direct, with Danny Boyle producing.
IS TRUMP TO BOBBY RIGGS AS BILLIE JEAN IS TO HILLARY? Speaking of Bobby Riggs, New Yorker writer Emily Nussbaum referred to the current tumultuous political season as “an election that threatens to devolve into an apocalyptic match between a bright-orange Bobby Riggs and a hawkish Billie Jean King.” In 2008 King was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton. When putting down Marco Rubio, Donald Trump said, “The one thing I learned from sports – I was a very good athlete – is that when you are a choker you are always a choker.” Once Sports Illustrated reflected on Trump’s presence at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “He looked like he owned the US Open,” wrote S.L. Price. It was impossible “to resist his playboy aura.” After Trump attacked John Kasich for his eating habits, pictures were published of Trump eating an ice cream bar while at the Open.
THE BRASH BROTHERS STRIKE AGAIN: For good reason, Bernie Tomic is called the Tank Machine. In Madrid on match point against Fabio Fognini, he reversed his racket and didn’t move a muscle when the Italian served. Tomic said he didn’t care about the point and petulantly asked, “Would you care if you were worth over $10 million and 23 [years old] – would you care?” Tomic was fined, and criticized by Djokovic for not being “committed to the sport.”
Australia’s Olympic boss Kitty Chiller then informed Tomic and his “brash brother” Nick Kyrgios that they would have to improve their behavior if they wanted to represent their country in the Rio games. Kyrgios then posted video of a stunning between-the-legs lob he hit in Madrid and added, “Someone tell that Kitty Chiller to watch that tweener lob, then she will understand why I’m on watch for the olympics lol.”
THE LOST GENERATION: Djokovic is the youngest player to have won a Masters event. The stat is quite a commentary on Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov.
Now the question looms: can any of tennis’ new generation (which is now middle-aged by the sport’s standards) score significant breakthroughs before Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Stan Wawrinka step aside? And what about the game’s newbie wonders – Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric or even young Alexander Zverev or Taylor Fritz? Can they possibly leapfrog the field and start collecting Slams?
THE YEAR OF THE SCANDAL MARCHES ON: After shock developments relating to match fixing, drugs and sexism, we thought tennis might have a respite. But no…French police raided the headquarters of the French federation and the home of its leader Jean Garchassin as part of an investigation into alleged corruption pertaining to ticket sales for the French Open and a contract for the Roland Garros Stadium.