On GOATs and STOATs

The Australian Open is officially underway, which means Fashion Face-offs are right around the corner. A concerned reader advised me to write a couple of “warm-up” posts before tackling the face-offs. I guess it’s been so long I might hurt myself. So here’s a nice, gentle stretch of a post to ease back into things…

Last night was kind of crazy, wasn’t it? The Super Bowl and the Australian Open starting at the same time. It was hard to know what to watch—there were a lot of GOAT storylines between those two events.

Serena won her first-round match in her quest to eclipse Margaret Court’s grand slam record and become the undisputed GOAT.

Djokovic played last night as well, looking to close the GOAT gap between him and 20-slammers Federer and Nadal.

And Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl, although I’m not sure who he’s competing with at this point. I think he’s got that GOAT thing pretty well wrapped up.

There’s not much I can add to the GOAT debates. Instead, I’ll offer up a different mammalian superlative: the STOAT.

If you love crossword puzzles (looking at you, Karla) or are just a smarty-pants, you’ll recognize stoat as the weasel-like animal whose coat turns white in the winter. Here he is in his summer outfit:

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And here are his winter whites, when he’s also known as an ermine.

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Kind of cute, isn’t he?

Only we’re talking about a different STOAT, namely, the Stupidest Trophy Of All Time.

I have a spreadsheet where I save blog post ideas, and one of them is for a Fashion Face-off for tennis trophies. As with the majors, after deciding the best-looking trophy, we’d go on to vote on the worst. Trust me, there are some doozies out there.

But if I ever get around to writing that blog, we’ll have to settle on picking the runner-up. The worst of the worst was decided last week. Nothing can beat the shellacked marsupial board presented to Ash Barty at the Yarra Valley Classic.

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God bless Ash Barty. Is she a good sport or what?

A trophy this remarkable really ought to have a name. The Wimbledon’s ladies’ champion wins The Venus Rosewater Dish, so in keeping with the culinary theme, I’m going to suggest The Wombat Platter.

Can you come up with a better name? I doubt it, but a can of tennis balls to you if you do.

Did you watch the Super Bowl or the Australian Open? Who’s the GOATiest GOAT, Serena or Tom?

“Tennis” Tomorrow

In case you haven’t heard, a tennis tournament is starting tomorrow. Well, sort of. It’s a virtual tournament featuring top players, including Nadal, competing on PlayStation. Sixteen men and sixteen women will be taking part.

Action begins tomorrow at 9 a.m., ET. Supposedly Tennis.com will be streaming it live here: Continue reading ““Tennis” Tomorrow”

Serena’s Slam Quest

“How’s that three-posts-a-month resolution coming?” snarked a so-called friend the other day. Okay, I’ve fallen a little short on that, but in my defense, coronavirus. I mean, how can I be expected to work under these conditions?

Fortunately, there are writers out there who are way more professional than I am, writers who wouldn’t let a global pandemic stand in the way of quality tennis prose. One such writer is Cecil Harris whose work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, and many other publications.

Cecil has just come out with his new book, Different Strokes: Serena, Venus, and the Unfinished Black Tennis Revolution. As you might surmise from the title, it’s about the Williams sisters and other black tennis players, the strides they’ve made, and how much farther there is to go to achieve true equality in the sport we love. Continue reading “Serena’s Slam Quest”

Are the French Weirdos? A Rigorous Analysis

During his first-round loss yesterday, Stefanos Tsitsipas took issue with some of the chair umpire’s rulings. In protesting his treatment, Tsitsipas spat, “You have something against me, I don’t know what — because you’re French, probably, and you’re all weirdos. You’re all weirdos!”

What a weird thing to say. As far as insults go, “weirdo” is just laughable. It’s like being called a poopy-head by a five-year-old.

Perhaps it’s the very weirdness of the insult that got me wondering: Are the French weirdos? Let’s get scientific about this and look at the top four French players. Continue reading “Are the French Weirdos? A Rigorous Analysis”

Throwing Your Boobs

Have we talked about obnoxious match celebrations before? I feel like we have, but I don’t want to scroll through my whole site to figure it out. Besides, we have new, fun material to talk about.

A number of weeks ago, everyone’s favorite love-to-hate player Nick Kyrgios threw some shade at a few of the game’s top stars. He called out Rafa Nadal for being “salty” and Fernando Verdasco for arrogance.

But he saved his best shade for Novak Djokovic:

“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger….This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.”

Have you seen Djokovic’s celebratory ritual? I couldn’t help but laugh at Kyrgios’s characterization. Cringing describes my reaction perfectly.

And it’s not just me and Kyrgios. Djokovic’s ridiculous “I give you my heart” pantomime rubs other people the wrong way, too–so much so that someone coined a term for it: Boob throwing. Continue reading “Throwing Your Boobs”

Confidence Crises

Finally!

On Sunday, Rafael Nadal finally won his first clay court title of the year–in fact, his first title on any surface this year.

And–finally–we have a new blog post! I have been remiss. Inexcusably so, but let me offer some excuses anyway. First, I was taking a novel-writing class, so I was spending my creative juices elsewhere.

And two, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t sure I had the bloggerly chops to tackle some bigger topics. I wasn’t sure the blog even mattered–to me or to anyone else. Out of nowhere, I was having a mini-crisis in confidence.

Which brings us back to Rafa. (You know everything eventually goes back to Rafa.) Continue reading “Confidence Crises”

The Underhand Serve: A Friday Poll

“Kyrgioser and kyrgioser!” cried Alice…

Another day, another Nick Kyrgios controversy. If he isn’t getting fined for lack of effort or for needling an opponent about his girlfriend’s sexual history, he’s hitting head-scratching and/or controversial shots.

In this case, the shot was a dinky underhand serve to Rafael Nadal, who famously stands practically in the bleachers when he receives. I watched the first set of this Mexican Open match and heard commentator Lindsay Davenport wonder why no one ever tries an underhand serve against Rafa. She then joked that if anyone would do it, Kyrgios would. Continue reading “The Underhand Serve: A Friday Poll”

The Beetle and the Ballboy

Here’s a little fable that played out at the Australian Open this morning. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic was playing Daniil Medvedev, seeded 15. Djokovic was up a break and receiving serve at 5-2.

A beetle on the baseline caught Djokovic’s attention. He bent over and flicked it with his racquet a couple of times, trying to move it off the court. Then he tried picking it up while a ballboy stood a few feet away. Unsuccessful, he finally stepped back to let the ballboy take over. Continue reading “The Beetle and the Ballboy”

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