Filed under: Agnieszka Radwanska, Alison Riske, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Christina McHale, Elena Vesnina, Heidi El Tabakh, Jelena Jankovic, Li Na, Maria Sharapova, Melanie Oudin, Off Court Shenanigans, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, WTA
One of Wimbledon’s many glorious traditions is the annual WTA players’ party, which takes place on the Thursday before the tournament begins. There is no tennis to tear apart until Sunday, so we can slam the outfits instead! Presenting: Your Obligatory WTA Fashion Police Blog Post!
The defending champion continues to shine when given the chance. After being thrust into the public eye following her Wimbledon win in 2011, the soft-spoken Czech has embraced her outer sparkle off the court.
As we know, the only reason why Jelena even bothers to play tennis these days is for extra spending money, clothes and parties. She can’t even do that right anymore.
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena’s fashion choices over the past decade have sometimes wowed us, and other times, have left us scratching our heads. Both opted for classic options, but the jury’s still out on the hair.
Maria Sharapova doing what Maria Sharapova does with commanding presence as always. She wouldn’t look out of place on a Hollywood red carpet. Bonus points for the shoes.
Christina McHale, Alison Riske, Melanie Oudin, Heidi El Tabakh
Fresh out of a Forever 21 catalogue, McHale, Riske, Oudin and El Tabakh opting for the American (or in El Tabakh’s case, Canadian) casual look.
Azarenka, who also opts for casual looks at these events more often than not
(yes, that debacle at Indian Wells excluded), sports a new layered hairdo to go with her trusty black leggings.
If you’re experiencing deja vu, don’t fret! I am too. Wozniacki sported a similar off the shoulder black dress and up-do at last year’s players’ party. Stella, get the girl another look, stat.
Take me to your leader. China’s first Grand Slam champion rocks the makeup and hair as always, but I do wonder if the dress picks up radio signals. Or at one time sustained alien life.
Ivanovic, unlike her compatriot Jankovic, never fails to disappoint. Although this picture does. The only negative of this dress was the fringed monstrosity on the bottom that I’ve spared you from seeing. Thank me later.
Radwanska rocking a simple, black floor length gown. Although, if I were her, I’d lose the number of Kuznetsova’s hair dresser.
The Russian knocks it out of the park, and the dress really brings out her eyes. My winner for sure.
“So give me something to believe, ‘cause I am living just to breathe. And I need something more, to keep on breathing for.” – The Bravery, “Believe”
Let’s rewind for a moment to 2009. Melanie Oudin had just defeated Jelena Jankovic in the third round of Wimbledon. Following her shock upset, Oudin stated:
“I think I handled it really well…I was just thinking that she was any other player and this was any other match at any other tournament, not like on the biggest stage at Wimbledon playing my first top 10 player…I’m very excited right now. But I’m hoping there will be better days too.”
Little did she know, “better days” were coming right around the corner. Perhaps sooner than Oudin was ready for. At the 2009 US Open, Oudin became the youngest woman to reach the quarterfinals there since Serena Williams in 1999; she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova before falling to Caroline Wozniacki. The American media latched onto Oudin; to them, she had it all. Seemingly overnight, she became the next face of American women’s tennis.
To say the three years since her giant-killing run have been tough for Oudin is putting it mildly. Very mildly. Personal and family conflicts, high expectations and loss of form and confidence caused Oudin to free fall. Prior to the start of the 2012 Family Circle Cup, her record since 2009 stood at 35-62 and she had fallen outside the top 300 in the world rankings. Oudin did not win back-to-back matches in 2011, finishing the season with a 10-33 record. (She was the beneficiary of two walkovers in tournaments where she won her first match.) The lone bright spot for Oudin came unexpectedly at the 2011 US Open, where she and fellow American teenager Jack Sock took home the mixed doubles title (d. Dulko/Schwank).
Oudin, whose motto during her 2009 run was simply “Believe”, has been criticized, and even mocked, by tennis fans. By early 2012, Oudin finally had enough; despite having earlier placed blame only on herself, she split from her longtime coach, Brian de Villiers, desperate for a new voice and a fresh approach.
Coming into Charleston with an 0-5 record on the season, few, if any in the tennis community expected Oudin to do any damage in the tournament. She was barely competitive at the higher ITF levels, let alone in WTA draws. To add to this, she had drawn the in-form 11th seed, Great Britain’s Heather Watson in the first round of the qualifying tournament; Watson had just come off a third round showing in Miami (l. to Azarenka).
She toughed out the win against Watson, 64 16 64. Oudin had defeated a player close to her in age, but seemingly worlds apart in career standing. Watson is on the rise, Oudin was going backwards. A routine win against Slovenia’s Petra Rampre followed, and Oudin was in the main draw of a WTA tour event for the first time since September 2011. For the first time in quite a long time, Melanie Oudin exceeded expectations.
Her placement in the draw was now up to fate, and Oudin drew the short end of the stick. She was drawn to play clay court specialist, 10th seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain. Oudin gave the Spaniard all she could handle, but the latter’s match toughness and fitness prevailed in the end, 64 46 60.
Despite the loss, Oudin remained upbeat:
@SI_BTBaseline: Talked to a very happy Melanie Oudin. Finally feels like she’s starting over. New coaches, now training in NY. Playing 3 50ks next.
At the end of the day, the match against Medina Garrigues in Charleston will go down as another first round loss for Oudin. Will this be the start of a revival? That remains to be seen. Just maybe, however, she’s given her fans reason to hope. She’s given herself a reason to believe.