Well something had to snap me out of my stupor. I’ve been having the hardest time finding inspiration in tennis. I never thought that would ever happen to me. After all, I am too obsessed with the sport, too addicted to the game. And then one by one the Big Babes started getting injured, or pregnant, or side-lined by interests other than tennis. And the next thing I knew, I had developed a kind of writer’s block. I couldn’t be inspired if you paid me to write this blog.
It didn’t help that I was forced to listen to commentators like what’s-her-face on the Tennis Channel gloating about a bunch of also-rans who wouldn’t have had any chance of winning anything if Serena was 100% fit and healthy. It was pathetic the way these commentators were slobbering all over a bunch of wussies.
And then along came Aravane Rezai. Chick woke me right up, slapped me out of my torpor the same way she slapped Justine Henin right out of Madrid, feeding her a bagel no less in the third.
Granted, my glee over the Henin loss was suspect. I have strongly ambivalent feelings towards Henin. On the one hand, as a petite woman myself, I admire her lack of fear, her ability to throw down on a tennis court and not get intimidated by the Amazons on the other side of the net. But there’s a part of me that is quietly angry with Henin. What business does she have retiring from tennis, saying goodbye, saying I’m done - only to turn around and just reappear?
Understand that if she had said that she was taking a break, I would be 100% understanding. Everyone needs a break. And perhaps I too needed a break from this blog, a period to rest my thoughts, to refuel my creativity, and then return. But I never told anyone goodbye. I never wrote a column saying that the Tennis Chick was dunzo. I just took a breather. So I would not have faulted JuJu for doing the same, had she had the decency to do that. But no, she said adieu. And then re-appeared as if she had never left! So there is a part of me that rejoiced when Rezai crushed her in the third.
My other moment of happiness came when Rezai took out Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic is the perfect example of the kind of non-player who has been resurgent during the period when the Big Babes were absent, or broken, or quitting. Don’t get me wrong, Jankovic has a superb defensive game. But at this stage of her career, I would have liked to be able to say more about her than that she has a superb defensive game. And for a while there she seemed to be putting in the work to transform herself into a Big Babe. But when results did not seem to come right away, when going from a size 0 to a size 2 seemed to produce a kind of panic, a regretting - she seemed to relapse. The period of experimentation was over. Jankovic is and will remain a superb defensive player.
So Arazane Rezai has been a breath of fresh air. Was Lucie Safarova really injured or did Rezai frighten her into retiring after the first set? We’ll never know. What I do know is that I pissed off a bunch of people in my tennis club when I predicted that Rezai would beat Venus in straights. I suspect that some of them might have never spoken to me again if I had turned out to be wrong.
In some ways Rezai reminds me of early Serena, complete with outfits that anyone with the slightest sense of fashion would know that they looked, as they say in the Caribbean, cosquel. Did you get a look at that gold and black number? She would fit right in on Carnival Day. It looked like a cheap mas costume. The only thing missing were a headpiece and some beads.
But unlike early Serena who sometimes seemed overawed by the prospect of her talent, Rezai is an opinionated chick who doesn’t hesitate to talk trash. She has made no bones about her lack of regard for Jankovic. She has freely shared her opinions on Henin and Serena (go here). She is bold both on and off the court. Come to think of it, she kind of reminds me of myself. Thank goodness some of the readers of this blog know who I am, because I can imagine some conspiracy types making a case that Rezai may actually be the Tennis Chick. Lol.
But mainly I liked Rezai’s big and fearless game. She is only 5’ 5”, but she plays tennis like a Big Babe. The last player whom I thought had Big Babe potential was Sabine Lisicki. She turned out to be an injury queen. I hope that Rezai stays healthy. I love her boldness and freshness. I think she might have some Big Babe potential.