Monday, December 15, 2003

The Baggie Awards 

I never talk much about sports here, especially now that the Senators are depressing me so much that I can't bear to watch (guys, stop trying to play cute and keep your sticks on the puck. It's really that simple.) but for a long time, I was a diehard tennis fan. My interest has waned somewhat since Pete Sampras stopped playing, but every Monday afternoon, without fail, I check in with Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim's Mailbag column at CNNSI.com. I used to write in with snarky comments on occasion, and amazingly, considering how many people were milling around and how annoying security acted, I ran into Jon at the 2002 US Open. Didn't get to talk to him much as he was deep in conversation with fellow SI sportswriter S.L. Price, but it was cool meeting him nonetheless. Aside from his SI duties (where he covers basketball and legal stuff as well as the tennis world) he's also the author of VENUS ENVY, which was a nice and insider-y look at the women's tennis circuit during the 2000 season.

Anyway, the aforementioned awards are given at the end of the calendar year, and aside from the usual things, there are some lovely little gems:

Quote of the Year, women: Venus Williams. When asked for her thoughts on the army of up-and-coming Russian players, Williams responded: "I have to learn how to pronounce some of their names, especially the ones with the consonants together."

Quote of the Year, men: James Blake. The former Harvard undergrad had this take on sources of intellectual stimulation on the tour: "There are some pretty intelligent players out here, such as, well, Todd Martin and [pause]... Let me think of a few more."

On the plus side, there was no subsequent paternity suit: In his recent autobiography, Boris Becker recalls having endured a panic attack while trapped in a stalled elevator with tenors Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.

And as for next year, I just hope for good matches, a little bit of scandal, and nothing of Anna Whateverthehellhernameis.

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