Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A wild idea: Shake up tennis' Grand Slam

Isn’t it about time to change the Grand Slam of tennis?

I mean, a Frenchman hardly ever wins the French Open anymore and an Aussie doesn’t win the Australian Open very often either and an Englishman hasn’t won Wimbledon since the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was first opened.

And, realistically, when might we expect an American to win the U.S. Open men’s single title again? Andy Roddick was the last one but that was in 2003, which is when the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 85 years.

It seems the balance of power in the world of tennis has shifted to Sweden, Spain and Russia and away from its roots of success. If we can talk about bucking tradition and moving the Super Bowl out of this country, we should at least think about moving Grand Slam events to different countries where fans there would greater appreciate a homegrown champion.

At one point, a Frenchman won 35 consecutive singles titles at the French Open. However, since 1972, there have been only two men from France to even reach the French Open finals and only one of them, Yannick Noah in 1983, actually won. And there has been only one woman of French descent to play in the French Open women’s final since 1968 and she was named Mary Pierce and she is about as French as Patrick Ewing is Jamaican.

Thus, what rooting interest do we have about the French Open this weekend if there is no Frenchman or American in the finals? We haven’t had a single American player in the finals of the French Open since 2002 when Serena Williams beat sister Venus. And the last American man to win the French Open was Andre Agassi in 1999.

But, imagine what great theater there might be if say if the French Open were played in Sweden, Roger Federer’s home country? He has never won the French Open and has lost in the finals to Spain’s Rafael Nadal the past three years. They must have some clay in Stockholm, right?

If the French Open could surrender its Grand Slam event, so could Australia and England. The last Australian to win the Australian Open was Mark Edmondson in 1976  and the last Englishman to win Wimbledon was Fred Perry in 1936. Virginia Wade was the last English woman to win at Wimbledon,  in 1977.

I understand that it’s the captivating venues and long tradition that keep Grand Slam events where they are, but it just seems to me that other countries that right now are producing more skilled and determined athletes should be rewarded with a Grand Slam of their own.

It would be like moving the World Series to Japan or the Dominican Republic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you nuts?!

June 3, 2009 at 10:44 AM  

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