Summer vacations are just around the corner. I am usually quick off the block to plan a trip with my daughter, Chhavi. Last year we visited Koh Samui together and we had amazing fun.
Before that my niece, daughter and I went to Prague. My sister and I have travelled to Budapest and Paris on vacations. I am quite used to applying for a Schengen Visa. When I did the formalities for the first time, I remember I was surprised that the Schengen countries have an approved list of travel insurance companies.
However, this year has been different. I have never been so confused as to where to go. I am torn between taking a simple vacation vs taking my daughter to a place where she can play tennis as well. Chhavi started playing tennis in 2017 and within two years she started playing tournaments as well.
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) April 6, 2019
Life was a little less hectic before. Now every holiday means extra practice. Twice a month we go around NCR to play matches. In tennis, All India Tennis Association is the apex body that runs a national league popularly known as AITA. She plays in under 12 and 14 age categories as of now. Contrary to all expectations, she won her very first match of Under 12. By the virtue of that one win she has a ranking of 539 or so in the country. The ranking is of course a dynamic thing and changes from week to week!
Before tennis, choices were simple. She would go to school, play in the park in the evening and we were free to travel in all her vacations. Now there is tennis practice and matches to juggle with school!
My original plan was that we will go out in June to a European country. Within Europe, I prefer a Schengen country as it gives me some flexibility to travel around. Schengen visa travel insurance is also easy. We would combine tennis with a vacation.
But I am not so sure now. Her practice is going on well with her coach, Aman Rawat. I am reluctant to break her rhythm. On the other hand, I feel she is not getting any break so we should simply go on a vacation. Going by this idea I start looking at the air fares and then I feel if I am going to spend so much money; why not add a week of tennis in it! I keep chasing these ideas within my head without reaching anywhere!
Another thought is to take a quick short break on one of the long weekends when the school is open and only focus on tennis during the summer holidays. The difficult part is that I am not feeling peaceful with any of these choices. I keep over thinking without arriving at any decision.
Then I ask the child what she wants, and she says, “Whatever you decide!” So, we go back to square one! She doesn’t seem too keen on an extended weekend break! So, I somehow must find a way to make something work in the summer vacation itself or convince her to take a break later! But before I do anything, I need to make up my own mind. Who thought taking a summer vacation could be this tough!
Before I write anything else, let me say I have only respect for the game Serena Williams plays. She won her first Grand Slam title in 1999 and she is still around winning big matches. But I view what happened in the US Open 2018 final slightly differently.
I have been following the game for quite sometime, more so after my daughter started playing tennis about a year ago. I do not wish to write much but present three videos from 2009, 2011 and 2018! Surprisingly all are from the US Open and all involve Serena Williams doing something similar to what happened in the 2018 with one difference. On the earlier two occasions, the chair umpire was a woman!
Here is what happened in 2009 US Open semi-final against Kim Clijsters-
You can watch the video and decide for yourself. In this drama the lines judge and the chair umpire both are women! You can read more about it here. It was Clijsters who was coming back from motherhood then! The result- Serena lost the match. Kim Clijsters went ahead to win the title.
In the 2009 match the lines judge was physically so small! She never even utters a word to Serena Williams other than taking the call about the foot fault correctly.
And here is what happened in 2011 US Open Final against Samantha Stosur. Once again the chair umpire was a woman! They look similar but they are different ladies, you can read more here. The article says “Bizarrely, Williams admitted later that she may have confused the chair umpires. During her infamous meltdown against Clijsters, the official was another blonde European, Sweden’s Louise Engzell.”
You can watch the video below, the drama starts at about 5 minutes!
And of course there is the final of 2018 US open. I thought there were two women of color in it! So if Carlos Ramos had an agenda why did he go only after one?
Also Serena’s coach admitted that he was coaching, the starting point of the controversy. I wonder what would have happened if the chair umpire was a woman this time too.
Here is the video. To me it has a sense of deja vu!
As I said in the beginning I am a big fan of the way Serena Williams plays, for the years she has been able to be on the top, it takes special dedication. But I am not so sure about her behavior in the final of the US Open 2018! Finally Carols Ramos has given a statement.
I believe that no coaching rule is violated so frequently, it ought to be reviewed.
I also believe that sexism is a universal problem but if it was a problem in the US Open 2018 final I am not so sure!
I am sure Serena Williams will move past it, go on to achieve greater heights but 3 times is not a coincidence. Nor does she looks like a victim of anything on any of those occasions.
Update: Mahesh Bhupathi won the mixed doubles tennis title at the US Open playing with Daneila Hantuchova of Slovakia.
TV news channels are reporting that Muslim Board of India has issued a fatwah against tennis player Sania Mirza for her way of dressing up on court. Poor girl, I hope she will come out of this episode quickly.
Two things prompted me to write this. One, the huge hype built around Sania Mirza back home in India. Two, hardly any mention about Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the Indian media though they have achieved a lot in terms of grand slam titles.
A day before Saina Mirza was due to play Maria Sharapova in the last 16 of the US open 2005, I was watching Zee News (an Indian news channel) and in their opinion poll 84% of public said Saina Mirza would win! That made me ponder real hard that why did people think so? Unbound enthusiasm or what? Anyone who had seen Saina and Sharapova play at this US open, would not be betting their money on Sania with her current level of the game, yet 84% said she would win! Is it that people are/were buying the media hype? The final score line was 6-2, 6-1 in favor of Maria Sharapova. And today’s papers claim ‘Line call hit Sania, says her coach.’ One can read it in Asian Age (where there are no visible links for a story) and at Rediff:
There is a call said to affect Sania, when she was down 2-4, and had three break points on Sharapova’s serve. Even if the call had gone into her favor the score would have been 3-4. Anyway, I thought top players dealt with such things routinely and yet managed to win games. And the replays showed very clearly that Sharapova’s service was on the line indeed.
I am not trying to say that Sania is not a good player. She is damn good, but she has miles to go in terms of second serves and reducing her unforced errors before, I (anyone?) can actually think of betting the money on her against Maria Sharapova. But for the Indian press she can do no wrong, it was a line call that ruined her chances. What chances, I want to ask?
In contrast, Mahesh Bhupathi is in the semifinals of the mixed doubles of the US Open 2005 and he even has a glamorous partner, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia. Yet, the Indian press is largely silent on his exploits. He won Wimbledon mixed doubles crown in the year 2005 playing with Mary Pierce. Leander Paes plays with Martina Navratilova and they have won grand slam events together but it is not hype worthy news for Indian papers. In a country where there are not too many success stories to pick from, I wonder why such noteworthy achievements go under reported. Why not the song and dance about them? Below I am listing the achievements of Bhupathi and Paes (all the facts have been gathered from various internet sites).
1999French OpenLeander Paes (IND)
1999WimbledonLeander Paes (IND)
2001French Open Leander Paes (IND)
2002U.S. OpenMax Mirnyi (BLR)
1997French OpenRika Hiraki (JPN)
1999U.S. OpenAi Sugiyama (JPN)
2002WimbledonElena Likhovtseva (RUS)
2004 – Athens Olympics, reached semi-finals of the doubles competition.
2005WimbledonMary Pierce (FRA)
1992 – Barcelona Olympics, reached quarter-finals of the doubles competition
1993 – Davis Cup, reached semi-finals
1996 – Atlanta Olympics, singles bronze-medalist
1997 – US Open doubles, reached semi-finals
1998 – reached doubles semi-finals of Australian, French and US Open
1999 – reached doubles finals of all the four Grand Slams, eventually winning at Wimbledon and French Open.
2001 – French Open doubles title
2003 – Wimbledon and Australian Open mixed-doubles title along with Martina Navratilova
2004 – Athens Olympics, reached semi-finals of the doubles competition.
Now is that not impressive?