Nothing like a good old-fashioned tantrum to put the US Open back on the map. Brings back memories of those guys we loved to hate or hated to love – Nastase, McEnroe, Conners … They were assholes, but they were interesting assholes. Portraits of what can happen to the tremendously talented, pushed, driven, and spoiled.
As soon as instant replay hit the grand slams, tennis became fair, clean, and a little boring. Sort of like one Sampras match after another, only of interest to those of us who play. And while I get my kicks out of ogling this guy or another (because nowadays only the astonishingly beautiful are allowed to play), I could do with a little more overt personality. It’s hard to get totally invested in a side when it’s just nice versus nice.
The last great character, Marat Safin, retired this week. Safin had a combination lethal serve, deadpan delivery, and unpredictability. He once dropped his shorts and mooned the crowd after a bad call. Call me tasteless and juvenile, but I’m really going to miss him.
Because, you know, tennis is much, much more than just shoving the ball from one side of the net to the other. It’s poker, chess, gymnastics, track, but most of all, it’s a game of nerves. One man or woman out there against all odds.
So, you go Serena. I never liked to watch you play before, but now I can’t wait. You might try once more to put your game face on, but we’ll know exactly what’s behind it.