The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Lindsay Gibbs, August 13, 2019
Serena and Andreescu bring the tears — an exclusive interview with Coco Gauff — Must-click women's tennis links
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So, nobody ever wants to see any tennis match — especially a final — end in a retirement. It is just agonizing to watch a player unable to compete because of physical limitations.
So, when the most marquee final possible manifested over the weekend at the Rogers Cup — with Serena Williams facing off against Bianca Andreescu, the Canadian teenager who has barely played since her big win at Indian Wells — a retirement was literally the worst case scenario.
But then, somehow, when Serena retired down 3-1 because of back spasms, one of the most beautiful moments I’ve seen on the tennis court manifested.
Andreescu, the wunderkind, went over and comforted Serena, the sobbing legend. She gave her a hug, then bent down and commiserated with her about how hard injuries are. She showed empathy and respect and love and humor and OH MY GOSH I cry every time I watch this clip.
“I’ve watched you your whole career,” Andreescu said. “You’re a fucking beast.”
Serena stood up and hugged Andreescu, and offered her congratulations. Through tears, they both laughed and shrugged.
Honestly, I never want Serena or anyone to be injured, but that moment is one I will remember much more than most finals I’ve watched during my long life as a tennis fan. The strength that both women showed in that moment was more powerful than any forehand or serve or perfectly-timed dropshot. I’m in awe.
This Week in Tennis
What a great win for Venus Williams, taking out defending champion Kiki Bertens in Cincy, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4).
Naomi Osaka is back to No. 1.
Speaking of Osaka, she lost to Serena in the Rogers Cup quarterfinals, and while I was dreading them playing again and all of the NARRATIVES, I’m honestly thrilled that it is over with before the U.S. Open.
Coco Gauff got a U.S. Open wild card.
Serena had to withdrawal from Cincy with her ongoing back troubles. Please get well soon.
I contributed to Steve Tignor’s oral history of the Osaka/Serena U.S. Open final, along with many other much more brilliant voices. My biggest takeaway: How much her anger resonated with female athletes and coaches everywhere.
I just love Bianca Andreescu so much.
A WTA Insider update on Petra Kvitova.
Speaking of WTA Insider, this extended interview with Kamau Murray is a must-read, which touches on the lack of diversity in the tennis coaching ranks.
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Coco Gauff
I caught up with Coco Gauff at the Citi Open earlier this month. She is delightful.
I cover a lot of women’s sports, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that your story has resonated with so many female athletes — as well as women everywhere, of course. Do you have any sense of why that is?
I think I honestly don’t know, maybe because I’m young. So I think maybe that’s a focal point of it all. But I still think that, like, a lot of people like me, for some reason. Not just like my game. So I don’t know why. (Laughs) But I’m just happy that people, like me — a lot of little kids come up to me. I’m happy that they see me as a role model. And I hope that I can just be the best role model for them. And I’m still learning life as well. So I guess they can learn as well from me.
Did you watch other women’s sports growing up?
Yeah, my mom ran track, o we would watch some of the track nice. I used to run track actually. I ran the 800. But it wasn’t, I just ran it for fun. I wasn’t bad, but I knew I was going to play tennis. I also did basketball.
So I watched women’s basketball and I got a chance to meet Lisa Leslie. So that was pretty cool.
That’s amazing! I saw her tweeting at you, and was wondering if you knew her a little bit.
Yeah, her daughter Lauren plays tennis. So we met maybe two or three years ago, way before this happened. Okay. And she’s one of the nicest people. And she’s so pretty.
I read that in February you signed a kid’s shoe for the first time. What’s the craziest thing that you’ve signed in the past couple of weeks? Have there been any weird requests?
I think I signed a crock pot a long time ago.
Wow, that’s definitely weird.
Yeah. I think it was it was actually before Wimbledon. I think was at Midlands, Michigan, a kid asked me. I don’t know why, but he asked me to sign a crock pot for him. Oh, and I also signed someone’s forehead, too!
Oh my god. Was it in Sharpie?
Yeah, it was in Sharpie. He told me he wanted to, so I was like, Okay! (Laughs)
You and Ash Barty are playing an exhibition match at the Winston Salem Open before the U.S. Open. How pumped are you to be in an exhibition at the men’s tournament, to help fuel all of this excitement for women’s tennis?
Yeah, I’m super excited to do an exhibition there. I mean, it’s a great opportunity to play the world number one, I never met her, so everybody says she’s one of the sweetest people. So I’m excited to meet her and play her and see how my game matches up. And I think it’ll be the preparation for the U.S. Open.