Tennis in Indian Wells: Overwhelmed by Symbolism – Sports

For Angelique Kerber, talking to journalists is like the corridor from the locker room to the pitch – you have to go through that in a tournament like this. She has perfected the art of talking a little about the same phrases (“play my game”, “follow my plan”) without saying much. But this week, at the Indian Wells tournament, the corridor became a platform. The best German tennis player wanted to say something and she had something to say.

She had won 6-2, 6-1 against Daria Kasatkina – it was not just any match. Kerber’s grandparents are Polish citizens, she lives in Puszczykowo – and she also noticed in California that there had been airstrikes in the border area with Poland during the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Kasatkina is Russian, and Kerber has previously said she did not know what kind of game it would be for her. So ask afterwards: How was it?

“Tennis is secondary to me at the moment given what’s going on in the world right now,” Kerber said. is there “Of course you check the news every five minutes. Tennis is number two, third, fourth, and I deliberately switch late on the contact when preparing for a match. “

Against Kasatkina, Kerber wore a bow in the Ukrainian national colors on his pointed cap. The flag of Ukraine now flies over the scoreboard of the stadium. Billionaire and tournament owner Larry Ellison wore a Ukraine cap, actors like Jannik Sinner (Italy) and Coco Gauff (USA) dressed in blue and yellow, others like Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain) or Iga Swiatek (Poland) wore the blue-yellow bows. Elina Switolina posed between training tracks wearing an Ape Kids Club jersey: a sad cartoon monkey stands in front of a glowing peace sign and holds up the Ukrainian flag.

“Look at other sports what they’ve done!” Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina does not agree that Russian players can continue to compete in tennis.

(Photo: Radka Leitmeritz / oh)

Switolina puts her hands on her hips, her eyes looking serious. She is Ukrainian. After losing her first match at Indian Wells, she now supports her husband Gaël Monfils, who on Monday defeated top seed Daniil Medvedev from Russia. Her family just hangs out in a basement in Odessa, and sports also play a minor role for Switolina. Although it’s important to her: she does not agree that Russian actors must play in Indian Wells; however, without a Russian flag next to the names: “I do not think that is right. Look at other sports and see what they have done!”

Professional tennis plays a special role in this topic – again. And the sport does not strike a good figure – again.

A few other examples: Alexander Zverev is still running an ATP investigation into allegations of domestic violence (which Zverev, who claims his innocence, explicitly welcomes), but after six months, there is still no information from the men’s association about status. it provides: The information from a well-informed source that no one has so far asked the alleged victim for a statement or evidence. The penalty for Zverev’s freak out recently in Acapulco when he abused the judge’s chair with his racket: ridiculous. Zverev can do neither for studies in slow motion nor for the mild punishment; Both, however, give the impression that ATP treats both as this corridor: somehow quickly through.

Ukrainian Marta Kostjuk says the statements have no substance

Or the state relationship around the Chinese woman Peng Shuai, who has since disappeared and for whom it is still not really clear how she is doing. The women’s association WTA has therefore canceled all tournaments in China. There are four men’s tournaments in China this fall, including the Masters in Beijing.

Or the tears from former world number one Naomi Osaka over the weekend because she was offended by a spectator. She felt reminded of the racist calls against Venus and Serena Williams in 2001, Osaka said afterwards – the Indian Wells tournament had long had the stigma of not having done enough against such calls. Anyone who now asks for an opinion on the Osaka case is waiting in vain for an answer. But the most important thing is that the flag of Ukraine is waving, there is champagne over there, dear viewers.

Tennis: Ukrainian Marta Kostjuk plays in national colors.

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk plays in national colors.

(Photo: Clive Brunskill / AFP)

The symbolism is overwhelming, so it hardly affects you. “All the ‘No War’ statements hurt me because they have no content,” said Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, whose family is in Kiev. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, the world number one in men, made such a general “no war” statement, but what was he to say? The most meaningful phrase comes from Daria Gavrilova (Saville). She was born in Moscow and now plays for Australia. Her answer to the question of the war: “I have family in Moscow.”

Tennis has a special role in world sport. The actors are world-traveling I-AGs, the top 20 in the world for women and men playing for a total of 21 nations. There are WTA and ATP tournaments in 36 countries. And: there are too many associations with their own interests – the world association ITF; WTA and ATP; the four Grand Slam tournaments – sports almost never speak with one voice. Often it’s just about keeping your own traveling circus going. Now with a blue and yellow flag on the tent.

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