Is tennis without character? [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Is tennis without character?

refero*fervens
11-01-2006, 09:20 AM
Hope this hasn't been posted yet, more Disney Adventures:

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Is tennis without character?

Wed, 01 Nov 2006

Tennis bosses need to do a better job of developing characters in order to safeguard the future of the sport, according to ATP chief Etienne De Villiers.

De Villiers walked into a storm at the Paris Masters this week after the top three players in the world all pulled out, including world number one Roger Federer.

Those withdrawals left the Paris tournament short of star names and he wants to create more characters in the sport who can carry a tournament on the strength of their personality.

"We need to tell a better story of tennis. We need to build tournaments that tell a better story," said the South African.

"We need more characters, players who people care about.

"Once we have that we will be more successful at the top and the better the halo effect will be on our smaller tournaments."

Since the 1970s and 1980s, men's tennis has often been seen as suffering from a lack of warmth and, as a result, there have been fewer and fewer marketable stars emerging.

That is something De Villiers wants to change, as well as restructuring the tennis calendar to ensure the best players turn up to the biggest tournaments — something that has not happened in Paris for the last two years.

On Monday the crowd figures reflected the disenchantment.

The 13 000-capacity Bercy arena was barely a third full throughout the day. "What we need to do with our marketing and television efforts is focus the media and fans on our biggest tournaments," added the ATP chief.

"What we've never done in tennis is give the fans what they want, so we're doing a lot of research now.

"And that is focussing on dressing up the tennis product to make it more attractive to the public.

"The tournaments are the body of tennis but it needs soul and the players are its soul.

"As a sport we have done a lousy job of developing characters. It was easier in the past to be a character, but now it's a lot harder to get some awareness like (Jimmy) Connors and (John) McEnroe."

Certain players like Federer or Rafael Nadal are crowd pleasers, partly through their own success and partly through their growing rivalry.

But that has left a vacuum behind them, meaning that without them many events loses a large amount of their appeal.

But De Villiers believes that can be changed.

"We need to identify 12-15 guys and say: 'How are we going to manage them?"

AFP

http://sport.iafrica.com/tennis/news/360146.htm
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Makes the tour sound like a tv show :D - but what do you think?

Action Jackson
11-01-2006, 09:21 AM
Mr Disney is a like running sewer, full of shit.

oz_boz
11-01-2006, 09:46 AM
De Villiers should switch to K-1.

Tennis isn't lacking charismatic players, it lacks players who are focused enough on tennis to really step up and win something big. Nalby, Safin, PHM, Malisse etc. Let's hope that the Nadal generation doesn't consist of talented headcases only.

Action Jackson
11-01-2006, 09:49 AM
De Villiers you dickhead you should go and ask Vince McMahon from the WWE, he could help you build characters, gimmicks and bad storylines and give the players some good steroids.

Sunset of Age
11-01-2006, 11:07 AM
Mr. Disney just doesn't know when to keep his trap shut...

Why not ask some contenders from "Idols" to come over and fill the courts?
Oops. Better not say that aloud, might give him ideas...

*Ljubica*
11-01-2006, 11:20 AM
Why does he assume that "character" means being loud, over-the-top and obnoxious like Connors and McEnroe? True they were great players - but their "characters" were quite repellent to me and quite a lot of others too. And while there is obviously a place for them in our sport, many people prefer players who let their tennis do the talking. Etienne de Villiers is too wrapped up in "show business" and his plastic Disney world and knows next to nothing about the sport, the players or the fans. What an idiot :rolleyes:

nanoman
11-01-2006, 11:25 AM
Why does he assume that "character" means being loud, over-the-top and obnoxious like Connors and McEnroe? True they were great players - but their "characters" were quite repellent to me and quite a lot of others too. And while there is obviously a place for them in our sport, many people prefer players who let their tennis do the talking. Etienne de Villiers is too wrapped up in "show business" and his plastic Disney world and knows next to nothing about the sport, the players or the fans. What an idiot :rolleyes:

Heh, don't you know ?
Loud = charismatic.
Black = charismatic.

Written rules in the tennis media.

ezekiel
11-01-2006, 11:34 AM
No one likes loud and obnoxious characters really and I find them off putting, There is certainly a way to be interesting than drawing such an attention

NicoFan
11-01-2006, 11:35 AM
Going against the crowd here.

For once I have to agree with de Villiers.

I've always thought that tennis had some players with a lot of "character" appeal that could cut across nationalities...besides Rafa and King Fed, we have Safin, Gonzalez, Marcos, Lleyton, and Andy R. And some of the young guns coming up could definitely have some fan appeal - Richard, Tomas, and especially Gael. Maybe Nole.

But they aren't marketed properly....the entire sport isn't marketed properly. Tennis is a business. Businesses rely on marketing. And in sport, personality is part of the marketing.

And for the record, I'm so tired of hearing Connors and Johnny Mac bashed as if their brashness was the only reason people watched them...maybe for some people - like the type of person who only watches motor sports for the crashes. But for the tennis fan back then, they were awesome tennis players. And yes, they knew how to entertain. Sorrrrrry, I know entertainment in sport is a 4 letter word for some of you...but its part of sport, and if it bothers you that much, you might want to think of another way to spend your time. But beware of what you pick ... film is driven by personality and marketing besides product quality, music is driven by personality and marketing besides product quality, etc. etc. ;) :lol:

Castafiore
11-01-2006, 11:40 AM
And for the record, I'm so tired of hearing Connors and Johnny Mac bashed as if their brashness was the only reason people watched them...maybe for some people - like the type of person who only watches motor sports for the crashes. But for the tennis fan back then, they were awesome tennis players.
I totally agree with this.:)

Today, when talking about Connors or McEnroe, their "antics" is about the only thing people bring up. I had to cringe more than once when McEnroe had one of his tantrums but John McEnroe was a fun and very creative player to watch in action. Too much focus on his "antics" these days and not enough on his "tennis".
Connors had an obnoxious and very "in-your-face" attitude but he was fun to watch as a tennis player.

FluffyYellowBall
11-01-2006, 11:50 AM
What they need to do UNTIL they change the calender is change the surface of bercy. Its one of the worst and is very unforgiving to the joints, etc. When the Masters cup is coming up right after then of course the top players in the world will want to pull out especially if its a surface like that.

Sjengster
11-01-2006, 12:02 PM
Going against the crowd here.

For once I have to agree with de Villiers.

I've always thought that tennis had some players with a lot of "character" appeal that could cut across nationalities...besides Rafa and King Fed, we have Safin, Gonzalez, Marcos, Lleyton, and Andy R. And some of the young guns coming up could definitely have some fan appeal - Richard, Tomas, and especially Gael. Maybe Nole.

But they aren't marketed properly....the entire sport isn't marketed properly. Tennis is a business. Businesses rely on marketing. And in sport, personality is part of the marketing.

And for the record, I'm so tired of hearing Connors and Johnny Mac bashed as if their brashness was the only reason people watched them...maybe for some people - like the type of person who only watches motor sports for the crashes. But for the tennis fan back then, they were awesome tennis players. And yes, they knew how to entertain. Sorrrrrry, I know entertainment in sport is a 4 letter word for some of you...but its part of sport, and if it bothers you that much, you might want to think of another way to spend your time. But beware of what you pick ... film is driven by personality and marketing besides product quality, music is driven by personality and marketing besides product quality, etc. etc. ;) :lol:

Yes...... you see, for me sport IS entertainment. That's what you're there for, if I wanted to follow "stories" with "characters" I'd go read a book or see a movie. It really infuriates me to see players being charged with carrying a tournament "on the strength of their personality", rather than on the strength of their tennis. It's an attempt to appeal to a mass audience that knows and cares very little about tennis in the first place, and that problem surely has to be addressed first before you start marketing personalities to people who aren't going to pay any attention, even if the players start juggling tennis balls and flirting with their cheerleading squads before they go on court.

You forgot to mention some of the other characters in the game BTW, the likes of Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Robredo, Stepanek.... I'm looking forward immensely to the marketing drive around them. Mr Disney can screw around with the tournament format, the structure of the calendar, points and prize money all he likes, but the one thing he can't do is artificially create personalities and "stories" where there are none.

Sunset of Age
11-01-2006, 12:10 PM
You forgot to mention some of the other characters in the game BTW, the likes of Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Robredo, Stepanek.... I'm looking forward immensely to the marketing drive around them. Mr Disney can screw around with the tournament format, the structure of the calendar, points and prize money all he likes, but the one thing he can't do is artificially create personalities and "stories" where there are none.

:worship: :worship: :worship:

Castafiore
11-01-2006, 12:20 PM
You forgot to mention some of the other characters in the game BTW, the likes of Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Robredo, Stepanek.... I'm looking forward immensely to the marketing drive around them. Mr Disney can screw around with the tournament format, the structure of the calendar, points and prize money all he likes, but the one thing he can't do is artificially create personalities and "stories" where there are none.
Yeah...promoting a player like Davydenko is always going to be a challenge but I don't think that the point is to artificially create personalities and stories where there are none but to put the spot lights more on the personalities and stories you never get to hear about right now since the emphasis is too much on the top guys.

There are a lot of fun personalities out there and we rarely get to hear about them! The proof is Tursunov. If it wasn't for his blog for example, would the general public know him?

*Ljubica*
11-01-2006, 12:20 PM
:worship: :worship: :worship:

I will add my :worship: for that too! Brilliant post. Thanks Sjengster for putting into words exactly how I feel on this.

NicoFan
11-01-2006, 12:23 PM
Yes...... you see, for me sport IS entertainment. That's what you're there for, if I wanted to follow "stories" with "characters" I'd go read a book or see a movie. It really infuriates me to see players being charged with carrying a tournament "on the strength of their personality", rather than on the strength of their tennis. It's an attempt to appeal to a mass audience that knows and cares very little about tennis in the first place, and that problem surely has to be addressed first before you start marketing personalities to people who aren't going to pay any attention, even if the players start juggling tennis balls and flirting with their cheerleading squads before they go on court.

You forgot to mention some of the other characters in the game BTW, the likes of Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Robredo, Stepanek.... I'm looking forward immensely to the marketing drive around them. Mr Disney can screw around with the tournament format, the structure of the calendar, points and prize money all he likes, but the one thing he can't do is artificially create personalities and "stories" where there are none.

Bully for you. That's wonderful that you only care about the technical aspects of the game, and don't look at the personality of the players. Bravo. Pat yourself on the back.

But for the rest of the mere mortals of the world, they enjoy also seeing the personalities. Always has been that way ... always will be that way.

And de Villiers (and others who run sports and other entertainment industries) aren't looking for people like you - they already have you, and people like you are a very small minority.

They NEED the average fan that you so easily dismiss. No sport today can survive with just the diehards. Its big business....whether you like it or not. And I do feel sorry for the purists like yourself....wouldn't it be wonderful if everything was built for the people that truly have a passion for it. But its not reality, and we have to deal with the reality of the situation.

And he's not suggesting clowns and jugglers. He just wants to let the average fan know what great guys the sport has. Is that a crime? I think its a great idea. We have a show on The Tennis Channel called No Strings which follows a player around for the day - I love it - you get to see the guys off the court, and you feel you know them a bit better. Its all good.

NicoFan
11-01-2006, 12:26 PM
Yeah...promoting a player like Davydenko is always going to be a challenge but I don't think that the point is to artificially create personalities and stories where there are none but to put the spot lights more on the personalities and stories you never get to hear about right now since the emphasis is too much on the top guys.

There are a lot of fun personalities out there and we rarely get to hear about them! The proof is Tursunov. If it wasn't for his blog for example, would the general public know him?


Excellent point Castafiore about Tursunov.

So loved here - thought to be a funny, nice guy.

But at the US Open this year, when he was playing, no one was at his matches.

Guess the general public has no clue that he's a funny nice guy.

This would help with this type of situation.

oz_boz
11-01-2006, 12:28 PM
Yes...... you see, for me sport IS entertainment. That's what you're there for, if I wanted to follow "stories" with "characters" I'd go read a book or see a movie. It really infuriates me to see players being charged with carrying a tournament "on the strength of their personality", rather than on the strength of their tennis. It's an attempt to appeal to a mass audience that knows and cares very little about tennis in the first place, and that problem surely has to be addressed first before you start marketing personalities to people who aren't going to pay any attention, even if the players start juggling tennis balls and flirting with their cheerleading squads before they go on court.

Quite right, DV seems to think that if the only way to get more people watch tennis is to create some "drama" that isn't part of the sport itself, then so be it.

You forgot to mention some of the other characters in the game BTW, the likes of Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Robredo, Stepanek.... I'm looking forward immensely to the marketing drive around them. Mr Disney can screw around with the tournament format, the structure of the calendar, points and prize money all he likes, but the one thing he can't do is artificially create personalities and "stories" where there are none.

:unsure: I hope not. If DV had his way, next Madrid tournament would be rigged for another Nadal-Berdych clash with the outcome already decided. Tomas would be asked to stir the crowd, while Nadal figths for the honour of Spain and finally gets the victory in a breathtaking fifth set tiebreak, after saving 50 mps.

*Ljubica*
11-01-2006, 12:33 PM
By introducing all these ideas, de Villiers threatens to alienate the "real" tennis fans like Sjengster (and many others) who don't want all the daft razzamatazz. Tennis is a long and technical game (based on skill and patience) and I doubt a lot of new fans who are attracted by all the "show business hype" would be prepared to pay good money to sit for 5 hours at Roland Garros watching a "clay court specialist" match for example. So therefore he is in danger of losing all the real dedicated fans who go to tournaments at the moment, without attracting new ones that will last longer than 5 minutes

Sjengster
11-01-2006, 12:36 PM
Bully for you. That's wonderful that you only care about the technical aspects of the game, and don't look at the personality of the players. Bravo. Pat yourself on the back.

But for the rest of the mere mortals of the world, they enjoy also seeing the personalities. Always has been that way ... always will be that way.

And de Villiers (and others who run sports and other entertainment industries) aren't looking for people like you - they already have you, and people like you are a very small minority.

They NEED the average fan that you so easily dismiss. No sport today can survive with just the diehards. Its big business....whether you like it or not. And I do feel sorry for the purists like yourself....wouldn't it be wonderful if everything was built for the people that truly have a passion for it. But its not reality, and we have to deal with the reality of the situation.

And he's not suggesting clowns and jugglers. He just wants to let the average fan know what great guys the sport has. Is that a crime? I think its a great idea. We have a show on The Tennis Channel called No Strings which follows a player around for the day - I love it - you get to see the guys off the court, and you feel you know them a bit better. Its all good.

Thank you for the reassurances, I was beginning to worry that I'd made the wrong choice there.

My point, however, was that hyping up the personalities is not going to help attract "the average fan" when they don't have enough interest in tennis in the first place. Now I don't have any magical solution to that problem, it strikes me that the difficulty lies at grass-roots level in the major playing nations, but inviting people to come watch these crrrrazzy players and their racket-throwing antics is not going to change anything on its own. De Villiers says they've never done what the fans want, I wonder what kind of fans he is talking about. These proposals along with the RR idea seem to be a surefire way of alienating the loyal core support in a bid to attract mass support that will ultimately fail. You say no sport can survive with just the diehards, well I severely doubt tennis can survive without them.

NicoFan
11-01-2006, 12:47 PM
By introducing all these ideas, de Villiers threatens to alienate the "real" tennis fans like Sjengster (and many others) who don't want all the daft razzamatazz. Tennis is a long and technical game (based on skill and patience) and I doubt a lot of new fans who are attracted by all the "show business hype" would be prepared to pay good money to sit for 5 hours at Roland Garros watching a "clay court specialist" match for example. So therefore he is in danger of losing all the real dedicated fans who go to tournaments at the moment, without attracting new ones that will last longer than 5 minutes

I'm not going to argue this all day...so last post on this.

Do you think that tennis is the only sport that is long and technical??? What about football (soccer) - so few goals, and the rules can be confusing as hell for the new fan. Yet I doubt there's anyone that would argue that football (soccer) is The Most Popular Sport on the planet. What drives it for many people is their love for their team and particular players. Hmmm...smells a little like marketing, eh?

Baseball...good grief, one of the most boring sports on the planet, and 9 long long innings. Yet popular. Why do people spend their days or nights watching 3 hour games? Love of team and particular players. Gotta love Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon (nicest ass in the league :lol: ). Hmmm....lots of marketing.

Nascar - one of the North Carolina races is about 6 hours long - and the average race is about 4 hours. Yet people watch. More and more fans each year. Is it all because people only care about how the tires wear or drafting. Nope. People love the personalities of the sport. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Smoke, Harvick. And the women think they are cute - a fact not to be underrated. The sport has gained popularity (and therefore revenue) due to the enormous increase in female fans - up like 30+%. And if you watch the commercials, aimed right at those women. Hmmmm...marketing.

Tennis is a great sport (as well as these other sports) - but add into the mix a little personality, and thats the key to success. Kind of like ice cream. Vanilla is good, but add chocolate chips or cookie dough and its better. Or put a little hot fudge on top. :lol:

Sjengster
11-01-2006, 12:48 PM
I should add that playing style is the most important but not the sole consideration for me in who I support; most of my favourite players I like in part because of their personality, but that's because it's a "get on with the job" kind of persona, rather than playing to the galleries.

It's interesting to see NicoFan having to remind people that McEnroe and Connors were great talented players and not just loud brats, therein lies the rub. Because their personalities were so memorable, it's now created a situation where the late 70s/early 80s are held up as the nostalgic gold standard due to the behaviour of the players, against which the current crop are held up and harshly judged. If the legacy of tennis from that era was more about the game, the skills and the competition (all of which were certainly there in abundance) than about temper tantrums and calling umpires jerks, maybe today's tennis would be appreciated for what it is, rather than criticised for what it isn't. We see it in every single identikit article churned out by a journalist who whines about today's robot players.

Sjengster
11-01-2006, 12:57 PM
I'm not going to argue this all day...so last post on this.

Do you think that tennis is the only sport that is long and technical??? What about football (soccer) - so few goals, and the rules can be confusing as hell for the new fan. Yet I doubt there's anyone that would argue that football (soccer) is The Most Popular Sport on the planet. What drives it for many people is their love for their team and particular players. Hmmm...smells a little like marketing, eh?

Baseball...good grief, one of the most boring sports on the planet, and 9 long long innings. Yet popular. Why do people spend their days or nights watching 3 hour games? Love of team and particular players. Gotta love Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon (nicest ass in the league :lol: ). Hmmm....lots of marketing.

Nascar - one of the North Carolina races is about 6 hours long - and the average race is about 4 hours. Yet people watch. More and more fans each year. Is it all because people only care about how the tires wear or drafting. Nope. People love the personalities of the sport. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Smoke, Harvick. And the women think they are cute - a fact not to be underrated. The sport has gained popularity (and therefore revenue) due to the enormous increase in female fans - up like 30+%. And if you watch the commercials, aimed right at those women. Hmmmm...marketing.

Tennis is a great sport (as well as these other sports) - but add into the mix a little personality, and thats the key to success. Kind of like ice cream. Vanilla is good, but add chocolate chips or cookie dough and its better. Or put a little hot fudge on top. :lol:

Mostly team sports, all of which involve either national or regional identification with the sportsmen/women, which does help fans to overlook the deficiencies in the product itself. One sees it here during every single World Cup with the ridiculous hype surrounding an average England team.

As an individual sport where players represent themselves rather than their country, at least outside DC/WTC, tennis surely has to rely more upon appreciation for the quality of play itself rather than on what letters there are beside the player's name. I don't have any problem with players who do have exciting, memorable personalities being marketed as such, but what worries me about Mr. Disney's comments is the implication that players are going to be straitjacketed into behaving a certain way that doesn't come naturally to them. And that kind of artifice in tennis would rob the sport of much of its integrity, for a return in mainstream support which I maintain would be short-lived and transient.

Dancing Hero
11-01-2006, 12:58 PM
I know what de Villiers means, lack of character in tennis, but you can't just artificially manufacture 'character' either. It's either there or it's not, like star quality, some performers/ politicians/celebrities have it, others not as much. People only really care about the top guys in the sport and I suppose that's why the attendances in Paris have suffered. There's so many other options open to people for entertainment and the casual fan probably won't bother going out to see for instance, no.20 in the world v no.32, whomever they may be right now.:)

DDrago2
11-01-2006, 01:06 PM
Yeah...promoting a player like Davydenko is always going to be a challenge

You seem not to realise that Davydenko is actually an ideal candidate. Don't you people realise what this is about? This is not about real people, this is about artificial people created by media. I see this as finaly admiting that media pictures are much more important than real life. So if you realy are "a person", you are actually unusable to medias. They see you as their's bussines product. It's not them who are there because of you, you are there because of them. Davydenko looks quite empty on the court so they can construct him from strach - much easier job than with a more flashy player

I didn't think until now that this new ATP chief is just another clown, but now I see how uninformed I was

oz_boz
11-01-2006, 01:07 PM
It's interesting to see NicoFan having to remind people that McEnroe and Connors were great talented players and not just loud brats, therein lies the rub. Because their personalities were so memorable, it's now created a situation where the late 70s/early 80s are held up as the nostalgic gold standard due to the behaviour of the players, against which the current crop are held up and harshly judged. If the legacy of tennis from that era was more about the game, the skills and the competition (all of which were certainly there in abundance) than about temper tantrums and calling umpires jerks, maybe today's tennis would be appreciated for what it is, rather than criticised for what it isn't. We see it in every single identikit article churned out by a journalist who whines about today's robot players.

Here's a point. Wasn't the popularity of tennis peaking by then? And is is necessary for tennis to reach the same heights in popularity now? Or is it good enough that the sport is among the not so popular sports, but still doing OK with a rather stable fanbase?

The popularity of football/soccer didn't come with marketing; it was the #1 sport before marketing became such a big factor. The same with baseball. NASCAR??? Wouldn't know, don't know shit about it. But the world's top sports are popular due to traditions.

Maybe there are ways of turning tennis into a super popular sport, but that would probably change the game so much that older fans would feel alienated.

Castafiore
11-01-2006, 01:19 PM
It's not just the "brats" of the old days that are remembered more for their "personality" or behaviour on court.

Lendl is pretty much reduced to his robot reputation as well.

Purists can reduce the sport to the core all they want but personality does matter.

I agree however that personality is not something that should be created artificially but it's something a player either has or doesn't have.

star
11-01-2006, 01:28 PM
Most people who are interested in sport are interested in competitin and rivalries. Team sports have that almost built in. Even when the rosters change completly the Red Sox and the Yankees always generate heat.

We dont' have that in tennis because it is an individual sport. But fierce competition and rivalries can also inspire fans. MeEnroe/Connors McEnroe/Lendl. I mean it wasn't just that these players acted up; they acted as if they had something personal on the line. They were fierce. Ditto for Borg/Connors. Even at tennis tournaments you get more reaction from the crowd when there is a fiercely competitive match than you do when a top player is playing beautifully but shellacking a lesser player.

We have Nascar... mind numbing if you think about it... going around in circles for hours and hours at a time. And you can't even see those cute guys in the cars! Yet people care about the rivalries and the competition. When those two things are fierce, there is interest, but when they wane, interest also wanes.

nobama
11-01-2006, 01:51 PM
I know people hate golf and tennis comparisons (and some here don't consider golf a sport), but I use it as an example because it's another individual sport. The PGA was able to become very successful (thank you Tiger Woods) and didn't need all these gimmicks and didn't need to mess around with the format. Tiger Woods isn't this great character, in fact to many he's probably incredibly boring. But people still love to watch him play and he has huge audiences where ever he plays. I think Mr Disney has it all wrong if he thinks changing the sport to attract the average fan (who probably doesn't understand a thing about the game itself) is a good idea. You're not going to retain those fans. They won't become diehards.

Castafiore
11-01-2006, 02:01 PM
Once again, it's not a good idea to create stories where there are none but there are interesting personalities and stories that get no attention at all.

Tursunov: if it wasn't for his blog, most people on MTF would still have no clue who he is.
So, maybe those other great characters out there can be given a bit more attention. Many of the tournaments right now are promoted around the big stars. Once they withdraw, the tournament director dispears because the crowd wants to see the stars of the game. Wouldn't it be better for that sport if the appeal is widened. People are always going to want to see the big stars but if more people got to see the fun characters out there, the tournament directors would have less to fear if a big name drops out?

The average fan may not have a deep knowledge of the game but are you really suggesting that the sport should only be kept to keep the purists with deep knowledge happy? Is a sport only for the "diehards"?
An average fan can get to know the sport better if he or she is drawn to the sport by other means. What's wrong about that?

DDrago2
11-01-2006, 02:09 PM
Lendl is pretty much reduced to his robot reputation as well.


It's so good that you brought Lendl up. Namely he is great example on which I want to make a point.

We are sometimes not aware of how much the spirit of current times affects our thinking and views. Lendl was actually not seen as robot in those times. I clearly recall my dad's friend who loved tennis, and who preffered other players (McEnroe), but was passionate when speaking about Lendl, describing him as "an iron guy with such a killers instinct"

It was so much easier to be "a person" back then. No one was acused of not having personality. It became a mania of our times. Now we are re-evaluating players from the past using our current criterias - and we are forgering history

And in the same time we are unfair towards the present players. "They have no charm". And could it be that the times themselves have no charm? Is it possible to please audience today at all?

NicoFan
11-01-2006, 02:56 PM
We are sometimes not aware of how much the spirit of current times affects our thinking and views. Lendl was actually not seen as robot in those times. I clearly recall my dad's friend who loved tennis, and who preffered other players (McEnroe), but was passionate when speaking about Lendl, describing him as "an iron guy with such a killers instinct"

It was so much easier to be "a person" back then. No one was acused of not having personality. It became a mania of our times. Now we are re-evaluating players from the past using our current criterias - and we are forgering history


I must respond.

I'm sorrry, I don't mean to be offensive, but that's absurd.

Lendl was seen as a robotic player with no personality when he was playing. End of story. I know because I'm old and I watched tennis all the time in those days. There can not be any possible debate on that point.

And personalities have been with sports as long as sports have existed.

For example, look back at baseball's history and all the great personalities. Babe Ruth wasn't only popular because of his home run record - but because of his personality. Ty Cobb is one of the top ten players of all time, but was known then and now as one of the least likable players to have ever played the game. Joe DiMaggio - popular because he was great, but also popular because people liked him.

I could go on and on and on with other sports, but I think you get the idea.

This is a non-issue. All de Villiers is saying is to get the great personalities which exist in our sport out there for the public to see. He's not talking about creating personalities where they don't exist. He's not talking about a horse and pony show spectacle. He's just trying to set up a vehicle where people can see and hear about the personalities that are out there.

You know, when the the knee jerk reaction towards ideas to grow the sport is always NO WAY, the opinions here then become irrelevant. Anything Mr. Disney comes up with has to be bad just because he says it. Any change is seen as bad. That is not the case. Some changes are good.

And it will change whether you like it or not.

Via
11-01-2006, 10:34 PM
On Monday the crowd figures reflected the disenchantment.

The 13 000-capacity Bercy arena was barely a third full throughout the day. "What we need to do with our marketing and television efforts is focus the media and fans on our biggest tournaments," added the ATP chief.

ahh so now i see. only 4000 tickets sold for the first day and that's why bosses start to panic, and we keep hearing about determined changes to the game every day this week.

the star withdrawals only happened a few days before the tournament started. i wonder why bercy doesn't sell most of their tickets before that? aussie open is almost sold out months before. melbourne fans are used to pull-outs every year but they buy tickets ahead anyway. bercy really have to question why the tournament has not been marketed properly as the entry list did have most big names. i'm just wondering if there are other reasons for the low turn-out, and mr disney is just finding something to blame after the fact.


"What we've never done in tennis is give the fans what they want, so we're doing a lot of research now.
:confused: totally confused by what he means by that. i am a fan for years, and have i been missing out on something that i want but don't know about? well it's true that my fav stars never kissed me :devil: they should have asked....

actually i don't mind at all if there are some smart ideas to better market the sport and its personalities... and the player blogs are a perfect example. blogging is now widely recognised as a useful marketing tool for businesses, and for tennis the players are its 'product' so it just makes perfect sense.

but blogs do not change the format and essence of the sport. what i'm against are those gimmicks like RR. i will hold my breath for what other marketing techniques that will be used to promote personalities. the atp does need to do something about making more players better recognised, if the media isn't automatically doing that for them.

Via
11-01-2006, 10:42 PM
You know, when the the knee jerk reaction towards ideas to grow the sport is always NO WAY, the opinions here then become irrelevant. Anything Mr. Disney comes up with has to be bad just because he says it. Any change is seen as bad. That is not the case. Some changes are good.



i'd rather think that mr disney has more knee jerk reactions lately than any of us here combined :lol:

btw many people do tend to be a bit nostalgic and overly romantic when they look back at the 'good old days'. i was also watching tennis in the mcenroe/lendl era. i didn't find their personalities any more interesting than those here and now. if anything in the 90s and noughties there are more variety to choose from. and there's much more infomation because of the internet. maybe that's what tennis doesn't need. too many names! information overload for the casual fans :lol: ohhh bring back the simple life and the wooden rackets.

NicoFan
11-01-2006, 11:11 PM
i'd rather think that mr disney has more knee jerk reactions lately than any of us here combined :lol:

btw many people do tend to be a bit nostalgic and overly romantic when they look back at the 'good old days'. i was also watching tennis in the mcenroe/lendl era. i didn't find their personalities any more interesting than those here and now. if anything in the 90s and noughties there are more variety to choose from. and there's much more infomation because of the internet. maybe that's what tennis doesn't need. too many names! information overload for the casual fans :lol: ohhh bring back the simple life and the wooden rackets.

:lol:

I agree on your first statement. But this one isn't one of his knee jerk reactions. And even if it is - its a good idea - people have been saying for years that we have some fun guys in tennis but that no one outside the diehards know them. Hopefully he can change that. He might not know tennis... ;) ... but he worked for Disney a company which certainly knows and is successful at the marketing game - and knows what the customer wants. So I'm willing to give him a go at that and see how he does. It won't change the game. Unlike round robins - on that, someone needs to check him.

And I'm not only for the good 'ol days...I loved the game in the Mac/Connors/Borg era, loved the game in the 90s, and love the game now. The game has changed a bit, but for me, its mostly the same.

I was only talking about older names in sports becuase people seem to think that marketing personality in sports is a new concept. That's incorrect. Its been around for a long long time....though probably a bit slicker now.

scoobs
11-01-2006, 11:25 PM
I don't understand why people feel so threatened by De Villiers. I always heard tennis was a conservative sport but seeing all this I now finally believe it.

The extreme overreactions I have seen on here have been startling.

Now I don't agree with some (a lot) of what De Villiers is suggesting - a lot of it will have no impact at all in my view and the rest will have minor impact at best. But I'm willing to give it a go and wait and see before passing judgement - call me a patient sceptic.

But it seems people are falling over themselves to outdo each other in their condemnation of this man like there's a prize for who can be the most derisory about him.

Not only that it seems people want to wilfully misunderstand what he's saying or mistakenly believe it applies to them

Let me be clear on this - when talking about the "casual fan" he's not talking about the guy who keeps the potential rankings updated every week in a spreadsheet or who will go out of his way to watch a tournament qualifying session or spend hours debating what Nadal is doing wrong on a hard court - so people who say "well this isn't what I want" as though they are the casual fan he means are just slightly missing the point.

Second, he's not talking about making up storylines or WWF style plots and overblown characters to sell to the public - he's talking about better promoting the players we have beyond the Federer - Nadal angle so that if they can't play it suddenly doesn't seem like such a crap field. I don't think tennis has ever done a good job of introducing the bulk of the tour to the public - even other members of the top 10. So when a casual viewer switches on and sees two unknowns and the commentators lamenting the withdrawal of the names he DOES know he's not likely to stick around, surely?

He can only do so much there - the other players need to step it up as well - part of the problem IS their own irrelevance in terms of impact. But still they need to work harder to promote the players and the experience of tennis - the tour, the slams, the TMSs, how rankings work, what the different types of shot are, etc. I think they make so many assumptions that the casual viewer finds it impenetrable.

I hope some of these things can be addressed by him - not with WWF style gimmicks but finding ways to make the sport more accessible to the casual viewer so they don't feel lost watching a match between players they don't know playing a tournament they don't know working towards a goal they don't even understand.

Tennis Fool
11-02-2006, 12:42 AM
Why does he assume that "character" means being loud, over-the-top and obnoxious like Connors and McEnroe?
Because this is what the casual American sports fan wants. Truthfully.

Tennis Fool
11-02-2006, 12:44 AM
Heh, don't you know ?
Loud = charismatic.
Black = charismatic.

Written rules in the tennis media.

And we shouldn't have either of those in tennis :rolleyes:

Ernham
11-02-2006, 12:47 AM
About the only guy with any character on the PGA is Garcia. Tiger has the personality of a thornbush. PGA is kind of a joke anyway. Let's not compare to that. Heh. I think a big part of the problem is that people driven to be champions in one on one sports tend to be introverted because they have a huge advantage when it comes down to shutting out "distractions" and concentrating 100% on something, whether that something is diet, training or winning on game day. I can pretty much assure that 90% the top 5-10 players in tennis or any one on one sport is nothing but introverts.

Tennis Fool
11-02-2006, 12:50 AM
Yes...... you see, for me sport IS entertainment.
I got confused after reading this sentence. I thought you were agreeing with the poster and I thought, "This can't be Sjengster!"

That's what you're there for, if I wanted to follow "stories" with "characters" I'd go read a book or see a movie. It really infuriates me to see players being charged with carrying a tournament "on the strength of their personality", rather than on the strength of their tennis. It's an attempt to appeal to a mass audience that knows and cares very little about tennis in the first place, and that problem surely has to be addressed first before you start marketing personalities to people who aren't going to pay any attention, even if the players start juggling tennis balls and flirting with their cheerleading squads before they go on court.
You know, I think there is a large cultural gap between Americans and some other countries. Americans like the stories and the personalities are what drives eyeballs to the screen or to the event. Personalities are what make non-fans, fans.

Tennis Fool
11-02-2006, 12:54 AM
I know people hate golf and tennis comparisons (and some here don't consider golf a sport), but I use it as an example because it's another individual sport. The PGA was able to become very successful (thank you Tiger Woods) and didn't need all these gimmicks and didn't need to mess around with the format. Tiger Woods isn't this great character, in fact to many he's probably incredibly boring. But people still love to watch him play and he has huge audiences where ever he plays. I think Mr Disney has it all wrong if he thinks changing the sport to attract the average fan (who probably doesn't understand a thing about the game itself) is a good idea. You're not going to retain those fans. They won't become diehards.

It's a well-worn myth that Tiger made golf more popular. He became the face of golf but did not change the amount of people watching or playing the game. Golf has never be a popular sport.

Tennis Fool
11-02-2006, 12:58 AM
It's so good that you brought Lendl up. Namely he is great example on which I want to make a point.

We are sometimes not aware of how much the spirit of current times affects our thinking and views. Lendl was actually not seen as robot in those times.

Really? Tell SI that.

Sjengster
11-02-2006, 01:01 AM
I got confused after reading this sentence. I thought you were agreeing with the poster and I thought, "This can't be Sjengster!"


You know, I think there is a large cultural gap between Americans and some other countries. Americans like the stories and the personalities are what drives eyeballs to the screen or to the event. Personalities are what make non-fans, fans.

It does happen occasionally. :p

No need to generalise, I can only speak for myself, not for sports fans from non-American nations. And as I've said before I don't completely discount the appeal of personality, but it's never been the most important factor for me and it was certainly not what made me a tennis fan in the first place.

General Suburbia
11-02-2006, 01:40 AM
Yes...... you see, for me sport IS entertainment. That's what you're there for, if I wanted to follow "stories" with "characters" I'd go read a book or see a movie. It really infuriates me to see players being charged with carrying a tournament "on the strength of their personality", rather than on the strength of their tennis. It's an attempt to appeal to a mass audience that knows and cares very little about tennis in the first place, and that problem surely has to be addressed first before you start marketing personalities to people who aren't going to pay any attention, even if the players start juggling tennis balls and flirting with their cheerleading squads before they go on court.
People like you are minorities, slight elitists who don't bring money to the sport. The sport of tennis is a business, and business has to make money. If there aren't enough fans right now who care enough about tennis, whatever Mr. Disney plans would probably be used as some kind of stepping stone to introduce them into the tennis world. Many people, including me, got turned onto tennis because of the characters who played them. The actual sport came around shortly after. I'm sure De Villiers won't turn tennis into whatever shit you say it will be, but turn it into something that will appeal to more people, who will in turn become interested in the game of tennis itself. He's done pretty well so far (whoever knew doubles could be remotely interesting?), give him a break.

cmurray
11-02-2006, 01:49 AM
I can't ever COMPLETELY agree with De Villiers (its principle, you understand) but on this one thing I can sort of see where he's coming from.

I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to market tennis players as "characters". Why shouldn't I be able to go to a tennis tournament (which I do every year) and get a T-shirt with Rafa on it? Why shouldn't the ATP do more to drum up interest in the top players that they have?

Sure, tennis itself is entertaining. But every sport needs to attract new fans or else (obviously) it will just die out. Tennis has some truly interesting players. Why can't we introduce them to the casual public? I don't think de Villiers is suggesting that he create characters - I think he means that the ATP should be doing a better job marketing the ones that they have. Safin is FASCINATING. He doesn't need somebody to make up stuff about him.

aussie_fan
11-02-2006, 02:01 AM
It seems like every day i go on these forums and eh is saying aomething different. Every through this is not as bad as other things he has said, just be curious if there will be one day where he doesn't say anything.

Action Jackson
11-02-2006, 06:20 AM
So what is he going to do artifically create personalities or what? They are there, but as for storylines I can watch pro wrestling for that.

Times have changed it's not the 70s and 80s anymore and there isn't going to be the huge boom like there was then and that is obvious cause the game is more professional and that is the same with other sports as well.

The facts are trying to attract the bandwagon fan with the gimmicks is all well and good, but there needs to be something substantial behind it for them to become long-term fans, before they switch and follow underwater goat wrestling and no one was born a long term fan.

NATAS81
11-02-2006, 06:40 AM
Is he trying to say Roger Federer is a person without character?

soraya
11-02-2006, 07:02 AM
People like you are minorities, slight elitists who don't bring money to the sport. The sport of tennis is a business, and business has to make money. If there aren't enough fans right now who care enough about tennis, whatever Mr. Disney plans would probably be used as some kind of stepping stone to introduce them into the tennis world. Many people, including me, got turned onto tennis because of the characters who played them. The actual sport came around shortly after. I'm sure De Villiers won't turn tennis into whatever shit you say it will be, but turn it into something that will appeal to more people, who will in turn become interested in the game of tennis itself. He's done pretty well so far (whoever knew doubles could be remotely interesting?), give him a break.

I am not ready to see placid Davy jumping up and down, yelling obscenity and all the while wearing an Afro toupee, to please the crowd.

refero*fervens
11-02-2006, 07:12 AM
Interesting. I think what part of the problem with De Villiers is the way he says things, and when he says that "we need more characters, players people care about," it sounds like a dramatising/fictionalising job. A lot of the appeal of the blogs came from them revealing the players' true personalities (perhaps it was the less entertaining of these that made De Villiers say this, though :D). I don't want falsifying or creating stereotypes within the tour, or celebrityising, if that's what 'dressing up' is supposed to mean, but then if it is purely a bit of marketing in terms of promotion that he is planning, fine. Problem is it sounds more like the former, based on the way he is saying it.

Action Jackson
11-02-2006, 07:17 AM
Fearless leader De Villiers what a guy.

My name is Mr Etienne "I have 1000 new ideas a day, a 1001 of them bad" De Villiers and I have a vision that will make the ATP the most watched individual sport globally and if I get these reforms into place, then it will make me a lot of money and make tennis interesting to the masses.

General Suburbia
11-02-2006, 07:59 AM
I am not ready to see placid Davy jumping up and down, yelling obscenity and all the while wearing an Afro toupee, to please the crowd.
When did I say something like that would happen? Where did I even imply that in any of my posts?

Castafiore
11-02-2006, 08:10 AM
De Villiers may have his share of ridiculous ideas (and I'm quite worried about some of them as well) but at this point, some of you are shooting down just about anything he comes up with.


Some of you may look at this from your perspective as a diehard tennis fan. You don't need the gimmicks, the marketing, the cheerleaders, the model ball girls to be interested in tennis. Even if the big stars withdraw, you're still interested in the tournament just because you're a fan of the sport in the first place and not a fan of a personality in the first place.
But tennis is a business for these tournament directors. For example, I've read articles from directors such as Richard Krajicek (Rotterdam) or Pioline (Paris, Bercy), talking about the huge investments that were needed for the tournament. If they see the crowds interest drop just because the top names withdraw, that's a huge blow from a financial point of view.
The diehard fans don't need the gimmicks to know that tennis can be fun even without the top 5 in the draw. They can have just as much fun watching a match between the number 50 in the ATP ranking playing against the number 30.
But tennis needs more than those diehard fans to survive from an economical point of view. You can be elitist about it and look down on the "masses" but this is no longer the 70s and 80s. Just take a look at what's on offer on tv if people want to watch sports. We didn't have such a huge selection back then. We didn't have the internet to follow sports either. Times have changed, we need to change with it.
It's all good and well for the purists to say that they don't need the gimmicks to find tennis entertaining but how is a tournament director going to tell that to his financial backers when he has to explain why the stands are so empty and the ticket sales disappointingly low?

No need to search for pro wrestling examples or have visions of Davydenko being forced to put on a cape to enter the court and see him encourage the "masses" to do the mexican wave with a toothpaste smile when he scores a point. That's going from one extreme to the other.
A guy like Davydenko is a great player but he's never going to be a poster boy for tennis. However, there are plenty of great characters with a good game who currently get no attention at all. The diehard fans here know that but is tennis only for those purists, the diehard fans? What is wrong with trying to tell the crowd that tennis can be fun even if Federer, Nadal, Roddick & co aren't playing?
What's wrong with trying to draw attention to the sport and maybe, some of those members of the "masses" will become a diehard fan as well but you've got to start somewhere.

Action Jackson
11-02-2006, 08:15 AM
What's wrong with trying to draw attention to the sport and maybe, some of those members of the "masses" will become a diehard fan as well but you've got to start somewhere.

There are people around who can smell bullshit a mile away and so are diehard fans born or what? If people want to watch a soapie or other forms of entertainment, then they will, but shouldn't fixing the problems with the game itself be of a higher importance than wow we need more characters.

As for Mr "I have 1000 new ideas a day, a 1001 of them bad" Disney, he is just making statements for the sake of it and not prepared to acknowledge what the proper issues are.

Castafiore
11-02-2006, 08:32 AM
But that's just it: diehard fans are not born but maybe we can help some people to learn to appreciate the sport more by telling them that it's not so stuffy as it looks.

I honestly think that this idea could be an attempt to do both. There are characters out there who have a great game at the same time but they are unknown right now. So, why not draw attention to the character to try and get more people to focus on the quality behind the "character"?

You're using words like "pro wrestling" and "soap" and "masses" to explain your viewpoint but I think that you are going from one extreme (the sport doesn't need gimmicks. Real fans of the sport will find enough entertainment. Who cares what the masses think when they are looking for entertainment in the first place) to another (pro wrestling where the gimmicks are more important than the sport itself).


Maybe you're suggesting that a "character" or a "personality" will come out on its own. If you need a gimmick to fool the public into thinking that a player has a personality, than it's fake. Right?
I agree that we need to be very careful with those marketing ideas (to avoid the sport becoming an empty shell just like pro wrestling) but trying to widen the appeal of the sport by telling people that there are great characters in the sport with a great game is not necessarily wrong.

Action Jackson
11-02-2006, 08:46 AM
But that's just it: diehard fans are not born but maybe we can help some people to learn to appreciate the sport more by telling them that it's not so stuffy as it looks.

I honestly think that this idea could be an attempt to do both. There are characters out there who have a great game at the same time but they are unknown right now. So, why not draw attention to the character to try and get more people to focus on the quality behind the "character"?


Each person has their own reasons for liking or disliking something. As for tennis being stuffy, well like Mr Disney going on about the glory days of McEnroe and Connors when they were just boorish arseholes, but very successful boorish arseholes, then they tightened the rules up on what they can and couldn't do and surprise surprise they are allegedly no characters in the game, when they are already here, it's just most people just look for the obvious.

Then the media have to lift their game as well, then again they can report things in any way they chose and that can have an influence on how certain players are covered, but that is the same in any field.

You're using words like "pro wrestling" and "soap" and "masses" to explain your viewpoint but I think that you are going from one extreme (the sport doesn't need gimmicks. Real fans of the sport will find enough entertainment. Who cares what the masses think when they are looking for entertainment in the first place) to another (pro wrestling where the gimmicks are more important than the sport itself).

There aren't extremes here, it's simple pro wrestling and soapies are entertainment first, but they need to have excellent performers in their field to be successful. With tennis the sport is more important.

Considering many players are sceptical of the media and in most cases rightfully so, then Mr Disney thinks the masses are morons, but hey lets cater to the casual and once a year fans to get them on board.

There has to be some substance for people to stick around and want them to discover the sport on their own and not trying to force feed us characters. Thing is not pissing off the loyal fanbase while capturing a floating market.

Castafiore
11-02-2006, 09:14 AM
Yes, those rules...

Connors and McEnroe & co could get away with a LOT just because the rules were more loose back then. Nowadays with the current tight rules, a player gets judged, sentenced and stoned for much less.
How would Connors and McEnroe be viewed right now with the current media access to tennis and with the current set of rules?
Maybe the tight rules smothered some of those outgoing personalities as well?

What tennis needs is better access to the game in the media to begin with.
The Masters tv live feed thing. I live in Belgium. Even if I pay to get access to their "exclusive interviews and footage"...I still can't watch the live streaming for the Masters events because I live in the wrong area but I still pay the same amount as people living in the right area.
So, I can watch the interviews and summaries but not the actual matches? This sort of thing angers me much more. That's the lack of substance that annoys the hell out of me.

Action Jackson
11-02-2006, 09:22 AM
The ATP as an organisation should negotiate the TV rights and not the individual tournaments, there are places that get a lot more tennis than others, therefore making it more accessible to the largest amount of users possible.

Well the tightening of the code of conduct rules have had an impact undoubtedly, though the fact the game is more professional as well. The media need to lift their game as well as I said earlier, access is important as well.

refero*fervens
11-02-2006, 09:37 AM
Tennis is already a very - international sort of sport, which is at the same time part of the issue. I guess in some countries tennis is overlooked media-wise because of preference over local, 'more popular' sports. I'm not sure how the tv rights thing works, sorry, but say, it looks like we get a lot more cricket and rugby here than tennis because they are simply established and popular. Some countries are just perhaps more involved in other sports? E.g. soccer (football) in England > soccer in Australia. Tennis is just there, and it's interesting to see how the ATP would go about increasing tennis popularity.

Action Jackson
11-02-2006, 09:41 AM
Tennis is just there, and it's interesting to see how the ATP would go about increasing tennis popularity.

This is the problem in that it's a niche sport and no matter how popular it is in some countries, there will always be other sports more popular within that nation some of that due to cultural reasons and other economics. I mean you don't need much cash to play football, just a ball and any space, whereas tennis there has to be a certain amount of money spent to play it or to develop as a player to the highest level.

tangerine_dream
09-12-2007, 06:05 PM
Who said "Tennis needs more characters?" John McEnroe? Does he still think that? ;)

http://www.statesman.com/sports/content/sports/stories/other/09/12/0912sptcol.html
Commentary: Want personalities? Try tennis
Players are interesting, funny and worth watching.
September 12, 2007

For years, there has been much angst in tennis circles about the sport's fading popularity in the United States, and one of the theories that gets tossed around is that tennis "lacks personalities." Critics say it's not as compelling as back in the heyday, when John McEnroe was throwing tantrums, Jimmy Connors was pumping his fist and Chrissy Evert and Martina Navratilova were slugging it out week after week.

Those legends were fun, for sure, but anyone who thinks today's game lacks personalities wasn't paying attention to the U.S. Open the past two weeks. Either that, or the sport is doing a very poor job of marketing its stars.

You want personality? Click on YouTube and search for U.S. Open runner-up Novak Djokovic, a charismatic Serb who not only has a brilliant all-court game, which he displayed on Sunday, but an uncanny ability to impersonate his peers. He brought down the house after his quarterfinal with his spot-on imitations of Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal, including an exaggerated underwear grab that had fans and reporters howling.

Speaking of Nadal, the Spaniard with the bulging biceps exudes personality. His bilingual blogs are a treat to read and he plays with unbridled passion. His marathon quarterfinal against David Ferrer, which he lost, was full of drama. Unfortunately, U.S. Open organizers started that match at 10:20 p.m. and it didn't end until 1:50 a.m., which means most of America never saw it. Ditto for James Blake's five-set thriller against Fabrice Santoro, which ended well past midnight.

You want personality? Check out No. 3 Jelena Jankovic, one of the funniest female players in quite some time. She smiles and jokes during matches, even bantered with Jerry Seinfeld from the court during her quarterfinal against Venus Williams. Like Djokovic, Jankovic is from Serbia, a country the size of Maine that must have sense of humor in its water.

You want personality? Pay closer attention to top-ranked Roger Federer, who won his fourth straight U.S. Open on Sunday. He is more interesting than you might think. Federer is possibly the best player in history, and his game is sublime. He also happens to be insightful, polite, intelligent, multilingual, and clean-cut — attributes we claim to want in our sports heroes. Oh, and he gets text messages from Tiger Woods. How many people can say that?

Top-ranked Justine Henin is also a great story. In the past six months she transformed from a guarded — bordering on chilly — character to a warm, open woman who seemed genuinely happy to spill her soul to a small group of reporters Sunday, still basking in the glow of her second U.S. Open title.

Henin went through a divorce early this year and recently reconciled with her father and siblings, from whom she had been estranged for many years. "I'm much happier now, more open, sharing my feelings," she said. She also revealed that she has jumped out of a plane 25 times. Boring people don't jump out of planes.

You want personality? How about the Williams sisters? Like them or not, Venus and Serena are the most remarkable siblings in sport history and they always give you something to talk about: their power, their outfits, their extracurricular activities and their behavior — or lack thereof.

Serena gets two thumbs down for her demeanor after her quarterfinal loss to Henin. The once-charming and likable younger sister showed no grace, suggesting Henin won because she made "lucky shots," when, in fact, Henin won because of her precision, diversity of shots, and courage to charge the net despite her diminutive size.

The list goes on. You want glamour? Maria Sharapova. You want wit? Andy Roddick. Outrageous outfits? Bethanie Mattek. Rising American star? Six-foot-9-inch John Isner, the 184th-ranked wild card who took a set off Federer.

If you're sick of flawed sports heroes — Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Pacman Jones — don't tune out tennis next time it's on TV. Give it a chance.

:dance:

gomeny
09-12-2007, 06:27 PM
that's the dumbest thing I have ever read.

Mateya
09-12-2007, 06:49 PM
:retard: :retard:

More and more :bs: