Tuesday, January 24, 2012

At last…a new #1 has come along…

Must admit that this entry is intended to be as much a tribute to Etta as it is a celebration of the demotion of Caroline Wozniacki. And before y’all decide to attack the tennischick, let me make it clear that I do not blame Wozniacki for being a pathetic #1, for the same reason that I never blamed Safina and will not blame any other player who happens to benefit from the WTA’s jill-assed system of scoring.

The good news, in a way, is that we still have no idea who will take over the #1 spot in women’s tennis. The bad news is that Etta lost her life before she lost her voice, but tragically after she apparently lost her mind.

So here are the facts as they currently stand. Etta James has died after a difficult battle with leukemia and dementia. And Caroline Wozniacki is no longer the #1 woman tennis player. No comment on the latter’s cognitive faculties.

Everyone has been careful to note that it is not Caroline’s fault that she had no business being the #1 tennis player in the world. I totally agree – it was not her fault in the sense that she did not invent the rules from which she clearly benefitted. I have in the past defended both early Hingis and late Safina for both being Slam-less when they first ascended to the #1 throne.

And really, it was not their fault. They both benefitted from a system that seemed to change its rules just as the Sisters started becoming a threat. Right?

If you ask me, said system ended up producing its most embarrassing result in Wozniacki. At least Hingis ended up winning three of the Slams (except for the French) eventually. At least Safina made it several Slam finals. At least Safina could blame her injured back (or head?) for her repeated failures. But what excuse does Wozniacki have? Sure she is (was?) a fantastic competitor. But clearly that is not enuf, is it?

Hopefully Billie Jean still has enuf influence to persuade the WTA to make quality count over quantity. Hopefully the days of a Slam-less #1 are finally over. Hopefully, the next #1 player wil be a Slam winner. The good news is that the 2012 Aussie Open practically guarantees this.

Which is not intended to take anything away from Errani. As a short chick myself, I am always inspired by those petite players who decide that they too have every right being on court. I don’t know how she does it but I totally admire Errani’s indefatigability. Chick simply never gets tired. She jumped and ran like she was on something. Not saying that she was. Only that it at times it became tiring to watch her incessant movements.

And just like that I realize that I’ve forgotten all about poor Etta. Let me tell you a bit about Etta James. She was born and grew up under what today would be termed “dysfunctional” family circumstances. Two days ago she died a bitter woman. With unnaturally blonde hair. After complaining that the other black blonde (Beyoncé) had stole her moment. Etta apparently felt that Obama had no business hiring Beyoncé to sing her signature song (“At last…””) at his commemoration. After all, she was still alive. And could still sing. The invitation should fairly have been hers.

But Blue Ivy’s Mama (or surrogate, depending on which media source you believe) grabbed the opportunity to display her fake-blonde self, as the Obamas danced. And just like that, poor Etta got sidelined. She was no longer the top singing bitch. Right about now she and Wozniacki could be soul mates if the one hadn’t died and the other’s career possibly over. Guess which is which, I dare you.

But there was a part of Etta’s mind that was clearly still intact to the end. As there was awareness for Wozniacki of the implications of today’s loss. Which explains why in the second set she fought like a demon. She denied Clijsters who served for the match at 5-2. Wozniacki forced a tiebreak in the second set. Never let it be said that Caroline gave up before she had run out of options. Or that Etta died without believing that she was owed the privilege of singing for the first Black President.


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