Tennis-X Notes: Venus Bails on U.S.; Wimby Fashion Police

Posted on June 27, 2006

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Tim Henman
is unseeded at Wimbledon for the first time since 1996...While Heineken and Stella Artois are popular sponsors of pro tennis events, the American-brewed Budweiser is getting flack in Germany as the official beer of the World Cup as reported by David Hiltbrand of Knight Ridder: "Although Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser is one of America's biggest brands, it gets little respect in Germany, the ancestral homeland of the Busch brewing family, where it has been derided as spuelwasser -- dishwater. Germany's age-old beer-purity law, limiting ingredients to water, yeast, barley and hops, effectively kept out the king of beers -- made with rice -- until the hurdle was lifted in 1987. "Germany's beer lovers can already taste defeat," read a headline on a Times of London article. It called Budweiser's World Cup sponsorship a slap in the face for a country that takes pride in its high-quality beer production, with a whopping 1,274 breweries. "Most pubs don't even stock it," Walter Koenig of the Bavarian Breweries' Association told the paper. "Bavarian beer should be available in a Bavarian stadium -- Munich -- for the first kickoff. But what can we do? Budweiser paid $40 million for the concession even before Germany had been chosen to host the tournament." Nicholas von Hoffman wrote in the Nation that German youths mounted a Web site ( depicting "Teutonic youths performing extreme anti-Bud acts." Franz Maget, a Bavarian Social Democrat, was quoted as calling Budweiser "the worst beer in the world."...The ATP announced the appointment of the new ATP Player Council and re-election of Board member Jacco Eltingh during the Wimbledon general player meeting over the weekend. The Player Council members serve for two years, while Eltingh begins a three-year term. The new Player Council comprises: Ivan Ljubicic, James Blake, Olivier Rochus, Thomas Johansson, Paul Goldstein, Davide Sanguinetti, Bob Bryan, Kevin Ullyett, Younes El Aynaoui, Martin Garcia, David Adams (alumni rep.), and Ricardo Piatti (coach rep.)...It is the 25th anniversary of John McEnroe ending Bjorn Borg's 41-match winning streak on grass...Telling stat: Rafael Nadal leads all players in return games won in 2006, while Roger Federer is No. 9 in the ATP MatchFacts category...Inflated ranking alert: No. 5 Andy Roddick is No. 15 in the 2006-only point standings...From BusinessWeekonline: "[ATP CEO Etienne] De Villiers inherited an organization molded by the 15-year reign of former CEO Mark Miles, a hands-off leader. Miles, who retired in December, oversaw a disastrous $1.2 billion TV and marketing rights deal in 1999 with Swiss company ISL Marketing. ISL imploded two years later, forcing the ATP to scramble for new sponsor dollars and siphon off prize money to fund the players' pension plan. The tour has stabilized since, but prize money and TV ratings have remained static and are small compared with golf, the sport against which tennis is most often measured. While the Grand Slams continue to boost prize money, the ATP's total purse has dipped to 2003 levels. The estimated figure for the tour's 64 events in 2006 is $55.8 million, virtually the same as three years ago and 5.3% below 2000 levels. TV ratings are lackluster: For instance, last year's final at Wimbledon between [Roger] Federer and American Andy Roddick rated a 2.5 on NBC, the lowest in five years...A raconteur who likes to quote people ranging from Malcolm X to Tolstoy to Woody Allen, de Villiers is also a hard-nosed businessman unafraid to shake up the status quo. Those who have seen him in action say he has a short fuse and shows no compunction about throwing his power around. As one tennis official puts it: "He's scaring the hell out of some people."...He is pushing to begin events on Sunday rather than the traditional Monday to lure more weekend audiences. De Villiers intends to make this voluntary for all tourneys in 2007. He wants more combined events with the women's tour and is even toying with changing the hallowed single-elimination format in favor of more round-robin draws, guaranteeing audiences and broadcasters marquee players at fixed times for more than one match... Sounds good, but De Villiers has learned how hard it is to bring change to a sport with no overarching body and multiple entrenched interests. "That has been the biggest 'aha,"' he says. "It's going to be a lot harder than I thought." Some observers think de Villiers may get worn down. The skeptics include players who have heard talk of change before. "He's got some things he wants to do," says Federer, who begins his title defense at Wimbledon on June 26. "We'll see if they're really going to happen."...Tuesday Wimbledon weather outlook: Cloudy start with perhaps some drizzle. Slowly brightening with some sunny spells in the afternoon. Light winds and feeling warmer. Maximum temperature 20 deg C (68 deg F)...Mike Bryan blogging for the ATP website: "We've settled into a three-bedroom apartment about a 10 minute walk from Wimbledon village and we've set up our music studio in the garage. The biggest problem so far is that our neighbors have a six-month-old baby. The other night we were wailing it and they were pounding on the door telling us to shut up but it was so loud we couldn't even hear them. But we've come to a compromise. We can go for it all we want during the day and we keep it down at night. This is a different apartment to the one we had last year, which was even nicer. But we scratched the floor with the amplifier and the piano so we can't go back there. We had to pay $2500 for a new floor to make good...Between the two of us our per diem doesn't quite cover the cost of the apartment, which runs us about US$550 to US$600 a night. So we're coming up a little short but we're both playing mixed -- Bob with Venus and me with Corina Morariu -- and hopefully we'll make up a little of the shortfall there. My girlfriend is also coming in to stay so we'll get her to cook a few meals to save us some cash!...The garage isn't sound proof -- there are a couple of holes in the garage so the sound penetrates the walls. And we like to crank it up! Andy [Roddick] said he could hear us from the bottom of the street as he was walking up the other day...Andy's been coming over and listening to our music and we're trying to get him to make a cameo at the gig. But he needs to step out of his comfort zone with 'Ice, Ice, Baby.' We've been rehearsing some new material including Eminem, 8 Mile, Young C and Bust A Move. Glenn Weiner has been here the past couple of hours -- he has a great voice. We're staying pretty close to Andy -- we're in the same little subdivision. We had a poker game the other night at Andy's house with the American guys including Mardy, James, Todd Martin and Scott Humphries. I took Andy out in the first five minutes of the game but John Roddick ended up winning the game."...Wimbledon has gone on longer than two weeks a total of 16 times due to rain in the tournament's history...From the Houston Chronicle's Dale Robertson: "Andre Agassi won't be remembered as tennis' best player ever. His accomplishments pale in comparison with those of his wife, Steffi Graf, and he decided not to hang around quite long enough to break Jimmy Connors' 23-season Open Era record for durability." -- Or he might have if his back injury didn't decide it for him...From Britain's North Tonight: "Wimbledon, which starts today, may be one of the most popular sporting events of the summer but according to a new poll, Scots parents do not encourage their children to take up tennis because they consider it to be a sport for posh people. The survey results come despite efforts by the Lawn Tennis Association to make the sport more accessible to all, as part of their bid to improve the nation's performance on the court internationally. According to the poll football remains the most popular sport in Scotland followed by swimming and dancing."...From tennis writer Charlie Bricker: "[Jimmy] Connors is not, as one of the London papers suggested, coming in to be Andy's [Roddick] "coach." Roddick wants Connors to come in and train with him for a few days so that he can feed off Connors' intensity and sense of how to handle certain court situations. Connors has a lot of wisdom to impart and Roddick wants to hear it. And it could make similar requests to other former pros as well. Jimmy would be more of a consultant than a coach. His role would be akin to what large corporations do in bringing in outsiders with expertise to impart to their top managers." -- Is Jimmy going to whip out a PowerPoint and laser pointer? Sounds exciting: 'John, tell you brother to, um, hit the ball, uh -- in -- more.'...Venus Williams on skipping Fed Cup for the U.S. at Belgium: "I really wish it was in the States, definitely. I don't think I'll be playing, no. I can't play that much tennis and stay healthy. It's a proven fact. So I don't think I'll be playing, no." -- Nice commitment to country, why are you wishing it was played in the U.S. if you were going to skip it anyway? Were you going to show up and watch? Venus is concerned about equal prize money, but not too concerned about her sport's Fed Cup being seen as anything more than the bottom-barrel joke of international competitions...If Andy Roddick's camp isn't first in line to obtain the services of Darren Cahill once Andre Agassi retires, there may be little short-term hope for the former No. 1, who is badly in need of a sideline strategist rather than someone to watch SportsCenter with...Venus Williams writing for The Times Online: "So the decision of the All England Lawn Tennis Club yet again to treat women as lesser players than men -- undeserving of the same amount of prize money -- has a particular sting. I'm disappointed not for myself but for all of my fellow women players who have struggled so hard to get here and who, just like the men, give their all on the courts of SW19. I'm disappointed for the great legends of the game, such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who have never stopped fighting for equality. And disappointed that the home of tennis is sending a message to women across the world that we are inferior."...Keeping the prize money inequity and cracking down on short skirts? Can Wimbledon make more bad decisions this year? if you're going to go all Fashion Police, start with pirate pants and reverse-bra-looking shirts.