Playing at Wimbledon: Shaving the dog is a new place to yearn for women’s tennis

The most important event of the tennis year will be Wimbledon in just two weeks. As far as the field of participants is concerned, the women’s turf tournament at the LTTC Rot-Weiss facility in Hundekehle is more than just a prep event.

Even if the top three in the rankings, Ija Swiatek, Annette Kontaveit and Paula Padusa, as well as former world number one Naomi Osaka and Victoria Asarenka, cancel their participation, there are still many strong players from the top 20.

“Of course, these cancellations are unfortunate, but the starting field is still very strong,” says former world player Barbara Schitt, who is accompanying the tournament as a Servus TV expert. As of Monday, the station will broadcast matches daily from 11 am to 6 pm, as well as the semi-finals and finals at the weekend. “Right before Wimbledon, Berlin is a good opportunity to get used to the grass. After last year, word spread about how important this tournament is,” says Schitt.

The Austrian has known the facility since when he played clay here – for the last time in 2008. For Schett, there are very different reasons why the current generation loves to travel to Berlin. In addition to the favorable schedule before Wimbledon, the prize money (823,000 US dollars, about 775,000 euros) and the city’s allure for the tournament in Berlin speaks for Schett. “It depends on how focused each player is and what kind of player she is. As a player, you are usually interested in going to different restaurants and seeing at least some sights,” says the 46-year-old.

And last but not least, it’s an advantage to have Barbara Rittner in charge of the event as a moderator. says Schett, who has traveled the world for many years as the former world number seven.

Barbara Schitt is a television expert.Photo: imago images / ActionPictures

Ironically, Germany’s top female player Angelique Kerber will not be traveling to Berlin. After the failure of the third round at the French Open, Kerber cited a lack of appreciation by the Berlin organizers as a reason for her unwillingness to compete in the capital.

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“We called Paris and cleared it up. There was already a misunderstanding due to a poorly worded email,” said tournament director Barbara Rittner of the German news agency DPA. However, three-time Grand Slam champion Kerber could not start in Berlin.

In addition to Sabine Lisicki, who is in the qualifiers after a year-and-a-half break in Berlin and won her first match 6:4, 6:4 against Asia Muhammed (USA) on Saturday, the focus from a German perspective is mainly on Andrea Petkovic. , which is set in the main lot thanks to the wild card. “It’s important for the atmosphere in the tournament to have players from your country,” Schett says.

Things are not looking good at the moment at the top of the German Tennis Federation. The quality of the field is more important.

There was enthusiasm in Paris for the statements of tournament director Mauresmo

Just how important tournaments like the one in Berlin are to promoting women’s tennis has become clear again in the past few days. Ironically, world number one and Grand Slam winner Amelie Mauresmo has caused discussions as director of the French Open. By subsequently making a qualified statement that men’s games “currently have greater charisma and appeal”.

Only Alize Cornet and Jelena Ostapenko played at the Grand Stade Philippe Chatrier in the evening session in Paris. All other appointments are reserved for male colleagues. “If the men’s match lasts for four hours and the women’s match is only one, then I can understand that the spectators may turn away,” Schett says. “But it just shows that there’s still a lot missing for equality.”

Since 2007, men and women have earned the same prize money at Grand Slam tournaments. However, “on the WTA tour, we don’t have nearly as many opportunities to play and make money as the guys on the WTA tour,” says Schett. Above all, it refers to the core reputation of women’s tennis. “Ever since I started playing tennis, I’ve always felt the need to justify playing tennis as a woman.”

However, Schett does not think it appropriate to focus exclusively on the fact that women’s matches are usually shorter because only three winning sets are played instead of five. “To get to the top, a woman has to invest at least as much as a man, so she trains six to seven hours a day.”

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How stressful must be shown by the fact that several top players have revealed problems of a mental nature in the recent past: Naomi Osaka repeatedly suffers from bouts of depression, Coco Gauff, who was only 18 years old at first for what might be Brilliant career, also commented on mental issues. Simona Halep had a panic attack on the court at the last French Open and Ashleigh Barty retired in March at the age of 25. She talked about being “exhausted”.

Barbara Schitt sees several reasons for this. In contrast to the above, there is less shyness in meeting the challenges of professional sport. In addition, Schett believes that many players questioned and got to know each other extensively during the Corona crisis. “A lot of people realize over time how powerful electricity is in their lives. As a professional tennis player, you travel around the world ten months of the year.”

The current generation of top players is also characterized by the use of celebrities to refer to global grievances. Goff protested gun violence after the recent rampage in Texas. Osaka takes a regular stand against racism, also because she has to experience it herself over and over again. Although the main focus in the coming days will be on sporting achievements, these aspects can help advance women’s tennis and its champions.

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