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Sports Over the Line

Tennis menace Serena Williams? In previous years she was No. 1 enemy of US Open referees  

By Ilan Kleinmann Posted in Jan. 2013

In 2004 and 2009, Serena Williams repeatedly insulted referees of the US Open as she lost points she probably should have won. Because of these incidents, she is now considered the epitome of foul play in women's tennis. Let’s focus on two historic days of this tournament.

In 2004, 22-year-old Serena Williams is already a tennis superstar when she faces compatriot, Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows, NY. At one set all, the chair umpire gives the point to Capriati after a long line backhand attack of Williams, totally valid. Serena walks toward the referee and starts the conversation:

“What's going on? The ball was so in. What the hell is this? The ball was not out; the ball was not out.”  Referee Mariana Alves doesn't flinch. Capriati finally wins the game. We will never know if this incident destabilizes Williams or not. Still, the event marks a turning point in tennis history, as accelerating the hawk-eye adoption.

An even more infamous altercation happened in 2009 in the tournament’s semifinals against Kim Clijsters.  Serving to stay in the match at 5-6 in the second set, she is trailing 15-30 on her serve. Her second serve is penalized by a double fault after she crosses on the line. She is now trailing 15-40, and Clijsters has two opportunities to conclude.

Furious, the American insults the line referee who noticed her foot fault: “If I could, I'd shove this ball down your throat and kill you.”  Her words are reported to the chair umpire, who decides to warn her a second time. Serena loses two consecutive points. She is eliminated.

In press conference, she doesn't admit her guilt and Clijsters declares she doesn't feel as if she has won.

Said Williams in the 2009 post-match interview: “I’m young and I think everyone has to have experience that they take and learn from. I think it’s great that I’m young and physically fit to go a few more years.”

As a champion of multiple Grand Slams, is it not Serena's job to report to the referees their own mistakes ?

Above Amélie Mauresmo lifting the Wimbledon ladies’ singles trophy ~ Telegraph  Right Vettel’s vexed starting 2014.  Why?  Bottom   Is Serena’s fire too much? 

After meeting Mandela once,  Agassi achieved career slam

By Alistair Bouysse


Former tennis ace Andre Agassi benefited from meeting Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in 1997. Few people know that Mandela's counsel helped the flamboyant and mouthy athlete turn around his sagging career.


“One of the most influential people in my life I met only one time.  It was the most vulnerable time, a time that I needed direction and inspiration, and just then, there I was, shaking hands with Nelson Mandela,” said Agassi during his International Tennis Hall of Fame induction speech in July 2011. “He took my hand, complimented my game, and in the same breath told me the reason why we have been put here on earth. I can still close my eyes and hear his words of wisdom from that evening.”


Agassi dreamed of meeting Mandela for years. The life-changing experience came during Agassi's disastrous 1997 season -- the worst in his career. He took Mandela’s words personally to change his unhealthy lifestyle and resolve his unhappy marriage to actress Brooke Shields.


“We can always begin again. It’s not too late to be inspired. It’s not too late to change. I am living proof that no dream, no journey is impossible,” said the retired tennis pro, known as “The Las Vegas Kid” for his arrogance and flash. During that very low point, he was found guilty of using crystal meth and dropped to No. 141 in the world rankings. He had been a top 10 player. His passion for tennis had left him and he disappointed his followers and himself with his dismal performances.


After the one conversation with Mandela, he became a ferocious competitor again at 29, winning Roland Garros in 1999.  With that title, he became the first ever player to win all four Grand Slam titles in the Open era. He established himself as the No. 1 player also that year, putting an end to Pete Sampras’ six-year domination.


“I love and revere those who suffer, who have ever suffered. I am now more nearly a grown member of the human race,” wrote Agassi in Open, his autobiography. In his 400-page book, published in November 2009, he dedicated just two pages to Mandela. But those pages establish a change in the tone of the book: all the negativity surrounding Agassi evaporates.


Favorably reviewed, the book became a number one hit on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Agassi used to hate tennis because he felt constantly under pressure, but Mandela helped him love the game.  Retiring in 2006, Agassi works on philanthropic projects now. The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education helps children in the US receive proper education.

More Mauresmo history

F-1 newcomer Caterham discusses 2014 changes

By Thomas Baron

For four seasons, Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull engineering and technical teams  mastered Formula 1. However, the changes mandated by FIA for 2014 could tame the Bull -- or at least cause a period of readjustment along with everybody else.   The changes concern technical regulations, specifically the KERS system, and fuel limits.

“It’s a significantly

different lump of

architecture in terms

of the physical

size of the internal

combustion engine and

it also has a relatively big

turbocharger assembly

associated with it,” said

Mark Smith, technical

director of Caterham,

the team which

entered F1 in 2012.


His drivers include Kamui

Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson. At Melbourne, they did not finish the Grand Prix. In Malaysia, the company's home country, Kobayashi and Ericsson finished 14th and 13th, respectively. Team owner Tony Fernandes has threatened to walk away if the results do not improve.

According to FIA, “Unlike the current KERS - which gives drivers an extra 80 bhp for six seconds per lap - the 2014 ERS will give drivers around 160 bhp for 33 seconds per lap.”  Smith has a lot of issues to manage: “How do you best use the combination of the two ERS with the energy storage and the internal combustion engine? How do you put all of that together in an optimum fashion with a limited amount of fuel to get your optimum performance?”


The engines must adopt the new 1.6-litre turbocharged V6, including two Energy Recovery Systems, according to the technical directors. In 2014, a larger proportion of each car’s power will come from this ERS. The latter will generate energy under braking and acceleration. The ERS could be used like a power train or a power unit.


Moreover, in order to promote fuel efficiency, fuel will be limited to 100 kg per race. This new rule will count during the warm-up laps and the last lap. Unlike the 2013 season in which fuel was unlimited, the teams typically used around 160 kg per race.


“I think that certainly for the early part of the 2014 season that will be very interesting to watch. Therefore, it’s my feeling that the role that the power unit will play will be more interesting,” analyzed Smith.

Kobayashi, Ericsson under pressure/ IBN 

McGinley predicts a French first in golf

By Damien Chabbert

For several months the European Ryder Cup captain has trained his eyes on up-and-coming French golfer Victor Dubuisson.  It’s likely that "V-

Dub” --  already the best in his country’s history --

will become the first Frenchman to compete in the

most important golf event in the world.

“At this stage, he is already almost guaranteed to be

part of the Ryder Cup team,” said Paul McGinley

of Dubuisson.  “He plays a modern game, hitting

the ball hard and far. It is very aggressive. These are

all characteristics of the best players in the world

right now.”

The 24-year-old “Frenchy,” participating in his

first season on U.S. soil, became the WGC

Accenture Match Play Champion in Arizona in

February.   He climbed to the top of Team

Europe’s points with his performances since the beginning of the season. He’s ahead of Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn, and Henrik Stenson in points.

And, “Dubush” established a new mark in the world rankings for a “bleu.”

He’s currently 21st. He’s nicknamed Golden Hands and called by his first name affectionately by Americans because Dubuisson seems a little too hard to pronounce.

About Dubuisson’s  Eurasia Cup performance in March, McGinley offered: “Victor again proved that he is a very good player. He plays with a lot of heart and courage. He has a very solid character. I hope to have 12 players with as much heart in the Ryder Cup”  at Gleneagles in September.

In the first major of the season, the Masters of Augusta, "V-Dub” finished T52.  His victory at the Turkish Open in 2013 allowed him access to the PGA tour.  Dubuisson, whose favorite shot is his 300-yard drive,  is also working toward a second trophy on the top-tier professional circuit.


Too hot? Read below

Dubuisson, 24, France’s hottest hand

France’s Mauresmo served her cause, made history twice

By Arnaud Le Quéré

Today, some high-profile athletes compete as «out» or openly homosexual in their respective sports. One of the first to make this admission during her playing days was France’s Amélie Mauresmo, a 19-year-old pro tennis player back in 1999.

«Homosexuality is part of my life,» she told journalists.  «There will be people who I hope will respect me for doing it because it was my decision and because there are many other players who are the same way as I am and say nothing ans act as if nothing is going on.»

Mauresmo wanted to make her sexuality clear at the outset.  Her revelation affected public opinion. Some people admired her courage. Others reacted in a bad way. Her opponent in the final, Swiss player Martina Hingis, declared: «She is here with her girlfriend. She is half a man.»


Even though Mauresmo never regretted coming out, she confessed that the consequences were very hard to stand. And, maybe she should have announced it in a less brutal way, she second-guessed herself over the years.

Fifteen years later, French people recall this precedent. «I remember very well,» says Sabine, a 53-year-old history teacher. «Even though I am from a conservative environment, I was touched by her bravery. This was probably not easy for her. I do not know if it affected her career, but her coming out contributed to changing people’s way of thinkng.»


The former world No. 1 won two Grand Slam titles – Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2006. She lost in straight sets to Hingis in the 1999 Australian final. however. The weight of her public statement could have contributed to the result. During her career, Mauresmo became the best French female tennis player since Suzanne Lenglen in the 1920s. Currently working as the coach of Scotland’s world No. 6 Andy Murray -- a woman coaching a man in the elite league -- she solidified herself as a trendsetter, again without setting it as a goal.

From Major Taylor to Niyonshuti: Cycling’s conquests

By Ruben Slagter

Despite the cost barrier of competing, desire has democratized and integrated the sport of international cycling to a point.  The first athletes of color to compete in

the 20000-mile Tour

de France, Ji Cheng of

China and Kevin Reza

of France, plan return

engagements in 2015.

The floodgates of

diversity remain closed

to many others, however.

“In countries in East Africa everybody is running since you don’t need a lot of equipment to practice the sport, while equipment for cycling is too expensive for our riders,” said David Kinjah, coach of Kenyan Cycling team Safari Simbaz. Kinjah also served as lead trainer of the winner of 2013 Tour de France winner Christopher Froome.

Over the last 20 years, local sponsors and, notably, the Rwandan government initiated sizable projects. 

“I was so proud to represent Rwanda at the Olympics in London,” said   Adrian Niyonshuti, a 26-year-old Rwandan cyclist and a member of the MTN-Qhubeka team, the first continental African team.

“Cycling is getting more and more popular in Rwanda,” added Jock Boyer, trainer of the national team of Rwanda and the first American to ride the Tour de France in 1981, according to the team's website. “Last year we had about 3.5 million people along the roadside during the Tour de Rwanda, and it’s only getting better!” exclaimed the 60-year-old Boyer, the rider who historic appearance preceded Greg LeMond's tour title in 1989.

One-hundred years after the 7 world titles of African American Marshall Walter 'Major' Taylor, diversity's inching its way one stage at a time into the modern times.

Niyonshuti of Rwanda~ Untapped-