Ivanovic Once Again In The Spotlight
Ana Ivanovic has endured a well documented slide outside of the top 50. Once the world number one and French Open
Champion, her confidence as well as some major flaws in her game came to the foreground when the going got tough. With injuries, pressure, and the resurgence of players such as Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, and Justine Henin, Ivanovic has struggled since 2008. She has never really been out of the spotlight by posing for men’s magazine and dating famous golfers. She finds herself as the topic of conversation once again this week after a disagreement with the Montreal tournament.
It started with Montreal declining Ivanovic’s request for a wild-card. This was somewhat odd as she is an ex-champion and went out of her way to support the tournament when it clashed with the Olympics in 2008. At the time she was suffering from a thumb injury and jet lag but Ivanovic felt loyalty to the tournament she was defending. Naturally she was hurt that the tournament didn’t feel the same amount of loyalty. She admitted to being upset and disappointed. Tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, explained that Ivanovic’s ranking had fallen not because of an injury or retirement, but because her game had dropped. He said they didn’t need her star power and would prefer to give the wildcard to a young up-and-comer. At the time, the tennis world seemed to support Lapierre’s decision. Ivanovic’s fans were upset, but others could see that her game really wasn’t anywhere near a decent enough level to justify a wildcard and a tournament cannot give out wildcards based on past loyalties, it pretty much defeats the purpose of them. Many felt satisfied that a tournament had finally decided to decline the popular Serbian based on her game instead of focusing on her popularity.
However, things were brought to a head this week when Ivanovic began to play well in Cincinnati. After upsetting Victoria Azarenka and finding herself in the quarter finals, Lapierre decided to offer Ivanovic a wild-card after all. Ivanovic declined, stating that she felt his earlier comments were hurtful and she did not feel welcome at Montreal. She even said she wasn’t sure she would ever play the tournament again. Instead, Ivanovic will play New Haven the week after.
Many fans of Ivanovic are singing her praises for sticking up for herself. Lapierre does indeed look like a bit of a fool after his brave decision to decline her. Ivanovic, however, is being equally immature. Just as she is not entitled to take the wild-card eventually offered to her, the tournament was never entitled to offer it to her in the first place. Instead of taking the matter so personally Ivanovic should have seen it for what it was. A wake-up call. Perhaps someone was finally willing to be honest with her about her level of play over the past year or so. It’s no surprise Ivanovic was upset but being so vocal about it turned what could have been a small matter into something of a catfight. Of course, Lapierre should have stuck with his original decision. By offering her a wild-card he was bowing to the pressure of Ivanovic and her fans instead of sticking with his original argument, which was a perfectly fair one. An unnecessary comment about how she should be made to play qualifying wasn’t exactly wise either.
It’s all a bit of a mess. The original decision sure had controversy but it was supported by many tennis fans. As it stands now, Lapierre appears weak whilst Ivanovic seems overly sensitive. It really has made a mountain of a molehill. The bottom line is that the Montreal tournament will survive. It doesn’t need Ivanovic to keep up its poplularity any more than Indian Wells needs the Williams girls. Ivanovic too will continue to play tennis whether she comes back strongly or not. Many more tournaments will continue to give her wild-cards despite her level of play as long as she continues to pose in bikinis. Both parties will learn from this incident about entitlements and learning to think before you speak. All and all, it’s an unfortunate mess but nothing that won’t be forgotten by the end of the week.