Wow Kim, winning looks great on you. The dress ain’t bad either.
I actually just finished up the women’s final before Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic took to the court for their final. I watched the first set of Kim Clijsters vs. Li Na live last night, but I had to be at work by 9:00 am and just couldn’t sabotage myself with a 3:00am bedtime.
In the meantime, Clijsters took out Li in a suspenseful, hard fought final: 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Then she got all glammed up and took her new trophy to the beach. (Yeah, working weekends is much more exciting when you’re a tennis player):
But my delay is not a sign of any disinterest. The first set of the 2011 women’s final was so intriguing that I wanted to wait until I had time to pay attention and watch it for real. These women deserve my full attention.
What I loved about this match:
1. Watching two mature, focused women fighting for the big prize. Sure there were nerves (though Li said afterward that she “never” gets nervous), but they didn’t get in the way or dampen the spirit of the match. As much as we talk about the bravery of youth, the best women’s finals in recent memory have been between ladies in their mid-late twenties (Henin vs. Serena, Schiavone vs. Stosur, and now this one.) Li fell apart a little towards the end, but for a first time finalist, I think she put on a great show. And really, that’s all we want, right?
2. Vocal restraint. They weren’t silent but there was no screeching. I don’t think it’s petty to mention how much this added to my enjoyment.
3. There’s nothing wrong with pure, aggressive baseline tennis played at a high level.
4. The final made it official: Li Na is an international star. She has real personality, as in she’s not trying to be cute, or sell perfume or be liked by everyone. From her blunt honesty to her silly jokes about her husband, she has genuine, straight forward charisma to go with her uncomplicated but entertaining playing style.
And she really wants to win – none of this “just glad to be there” BS:
Q. What about your emotions on receiving the trophy?
NA LI: Actually, I want to take another one. Yeah. I want put my name in there, just one more step. So maybe next time.
5. I’d have loved Li to pull a Schiavone, but there’s something comforting and generally right in the world when the best active player on tour takes the big prize at the end of the two weeks. It gives the WTA some much-needed order. And the fact that Kim had to fight for it, legitimizes her place at the top. Afterwards, she was still relishing the battle:
Q. We rarely see you so pumped up or emotional during a match. Does this one mean more than some of the others?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I wouldn’t say more, but obviously I think ’cause it was such an intense match. I don’t think I had that in one of the Grand Slams where I’ve won. Obviously, I’ve played intense matches. Probably my first Grand Slam final at the French was a very intense one.
But to win it in this way means it a lot. I think it’s that moment that overwhelms you, where your mind has been so focused, I’m fighting every shot, running a lot of balls down, and it’s finished. That’s what makes it just nice, and I guess this big relief that kind of just, yeah, overwhelms you a little bit.
Clijsters confirmed reports that this will “probably” be her last full season on tour, but Aussie Kim claims she’ll be defending her title next year. Let’s hope so! We need women like Kim.