Tennis, Anyone?

Uncle Volodya says, "Hey, Venus - are there any strings on that racket?"

The Russian Flag as it appears to adults

Another favoured theme over at the cornucopia of clownishness that is La Russophobe is sports – the vast majority of the time, tennis. Almost always, women’s tennis; although there are exceptions, such as this article.

Invariably, sports analysis Russophobe-style suggests the Russian athlete/team was “shockingly humiliated” or “embarrassed”. This usually means they lost. I don’t know how familiar you are with sports as a concept, but in general terms, only one athlete/team is the winner. Using the logic above, then, it is apparent that everyone who did not win was shockingly humiliated. You might be surprised (or not) to learn, then, that this fate only befalls Russia and Russian athletes.

Let’s look at the example above. Because Argentina beat Russia, Russia was “shockingly humiliated”. How, then, must the United States have felt when the country didn’t even make it past the playoffs? Waxed by Serbia, no less, who has never won the Davis Cup. Gee, what’s worse than shocking humiliation? Grovelling, tear-stained obliteration, perhaps?  Fellow weeping, grovelling victims of obliteration in that particular bloodbath were Switzerland, Germany, India, Sweden, Ecuador, Israel and Belgium. Oddly enough, the unashamedly pitiful performance of these countries was not deemed of sufficient importance to be noted in print at La Russophobe.

But let’s not let the point go just yet; it’s too much fun. Let’s look at La Russophobe’s pet sports subject – women’s tennis. Her pre-eminent favourite is the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. Inarguably, both are great athletes with a tremendous record as champions. Noteworthy, too, is Russia’s presence in women’s tennis. Not at La Russophobe, though. In that alternate universe, any Russian who doesn’t win is – you guessed it – shockingly humiliated.

Turn back the clock for a couple of weeks, to that defining standard among tennis events – Wimbledon. The world knows that Serena Williams, brilliant performer with a fireball serve that heats the air it passes through, won Wimbledon this year, as she has done before. If we look closely at overall American success, though, there are some wormholes in the underpinnings of victory.

The Williams sisters lost the Doubles event, to….Russia. The unseeded team of Vera Zvonareva and Elena Vesina broke the twice defending champion Williams sisters like a dry stick, and if not for Serena’s excellent performance, it would have been over much earlier.  Venus, though, was just circling the toilet bowl at this point. Despite confident previews that she would advance to the finals, the world #2 was beaten like a red-headed stepchild by Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova: the lowest-ranked woman remaining, #82, a player who had never made it past the second round in 18 previous Grand Slam events and never made the final at any tournament. Other references which were less sensitive suggested Pironkova ran Williams all over the court, and that she stumbled about like a drunken bear.

Mention of Venus Williams in connection with the words, “shocking humiliation” at La Russophobe? Zip. Nada. I’ll bet if you go back in the archives to 2005, when Venus was run over by a 15-year-old Bulgarian Spice Girls fan (yes, a tennis player, although she was ranked 98th) and in which the word “humiliating” was used in the press, you’d find it didn’t come up.

Got it? Any failure by a Russian to win the top spot is a “shocking humiliation”.  Any occasion in which an American performs the sports equivalent of pissing their pants is simply not acknowledged, as if it didn’t happen. Like American men’s tennis hopeful Andy Roddick who, by amazing coincidence, also got slapped silly by the world #82 at Wimbledon.

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