Tag Archives: Maria Sharapova

2014 Year in Review: The Best of the WTA

With more twists and turns than an episode of Scandal, the WTA tour’s 2014 season was nothing less than fascinating.  From the resurgence of faded champions to the emergence of new stars, this year’s WTA tour had something for everyone.  Here are my favorite stories of 2014.

1.  Fierce Caroline

After spending the past three years as a part of Wozzilroy and contemplating family life and early retirement, Caroline Wozniacki found herself on the end of a public and abrupt breakup with Rory McIlroy on the eve of the French Open.  Yet, seven months later, McIlroy’s name hardly comes up when discussing Wozniacki’s year, which is a testament to the savvy way the Dane has rebuilt her game and her life.  Though often considered too “nice” to win the big titles, Wozniacki’s upbeat disposition served her well in 2014.  To refocus herself, and, perhaps, the press from the cancelled nuptials, Wozniacki committed to run the 2014 New York City Marathon in support of Team for Kids, and ran it in an impressive 3:26:33, despite having never run more than 13 miles in training.  She also turned a corner on the court, playing tough matches against “bestie” Serena Williams, and out-gritting Maria Sharapova, of all people, at the US Open during her run to the final.  And, she even managed to become part of a more high profile sports couple along the way.

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Ferocity on the WTA Tour

One of the oft-repeated laments of those observing the ATP’s golden age is that it lacks the intensity of the McEnroe-Connors era. It’s true – the quartet that has led the men’s game over the past decade is known as much for their niceness as for their shotmaking. The primary rivalry in the game over the past decade has been between two guys who spent 15 minutes giggling next to each other, and the closest thing to fireworks at the top of the game is when someone knocks over Rafa’s water bottles.

Anyone who is tired of the smiles, stomach pats, and good natured ribbing of the ATP tour need only take in a few WTA matches to find the intensity they’re missing. This isn’t about the played up, stereotypical “catfights” that have come out of the media coverage of the sport. Rather, it is the ferocity of competitors who are less concerned with popularity than with victory.

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Roland Garros and Tenacious Longevity

During the rainy first days of Roland Garros 2014, many spectators wedged themselves into the small museum on the grounds honoring Eugène Adrien Roland Georges Garros for his aviation exploits during World War I. While most were simply seeking a dry place to pass the rain delay, those who were looking closely would have learned about the man whose indomitable spirit imbues the tournament that rewards those who share his iron will.

A sickly child, he took up cycling to improve his health, and became a champion cyclist, soccer and rugby player during his studies. Upon graduation, he developed an interest in automobiles, and, despite being financially cut off by his father who disapproved of his career choice, launched a successful business in automobile sales. But he changed course when he first encountered airplanes, became a pioneer in long distance flight, and was the first to cross the Mediterranean Sea by plane. Upon the outbreak of World War I, Roland volunteered for the French army, and served as a reconnaissance pilot. Shot down in April 1915, Roland spent nearly three years as a prisoner of war, but, after many attempts, managed to escape in February 1918. He returned to his aerial missions, but was killed when he was shot down in October 1918.

While there may not seem to be too many similarities between an early 20th century aviation pioneer, and the lycra-clad victors of the tournament that bears his name, this year’s champions both share Roland’s ability to adapt and to wring longevity from careers that seemed like they would be shortened by injury.

Continue reading at The Changeover…