Gentlemen's Singles Draw & Other Controversies

June 24, 2013 -- When we think of Wimbledon most of us focus on the heartbeat of a nation engrossed in its tennis glory for two weeks. We imagine green lawns, the advertisement free courts, and the tournament's grand manner. 

So far the run up to opening day, which is tomorrow, has been rough in the grand-manner column.

The Gentlemen's Singles Draw sparked controversy the minute it was made public on Friday. And, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have been stirring the sour romance soup vis-a-vis Rolling Stone magazine and pre-Wimbledon interviews. 

So, about the Men's Draw …  Shocking! Bottom heavy. Impossible. Might as well give Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 seed, a bye to the finals. These are a few of our favorite comments that have blazed paths across the blogosphere. 

Rafael Nadal's No. 5 seeding instantly sparked the debate. Everybody piped up because it's the thing to do in our electronic universe. People weighed in on the negative side, saying Nadal should be seeded two or three because of his two Wimbledon titles and because, perhaps, he is Rafa. Others were content with the choices made by the tournament, adding Rafa's a big boy and he chose to take seven months off to rehab his injured knee last year after losing in the second round to little-known Lukas Rosol.

Breathe a sigh of relief because Rafael Nadal has spoken. "Is completely fair that I am No. 5," Tennis.com reported. "I am No. 5 and David is No. 4. He win his privilege to be No. 4 before me, and that's it." 

Nadal opinion is shared by his two Big Three buddies Andy Murray, the No. 2 seed, and Roger Federer, the No. 3 seed. 

Murray argued that the 'one-year ranking' system makes it difficult to maintain your rank if you take time for an injury. Rafa's loss 'was a shock,' but Ferrer should not be punished. Murray has never been shy when it comes to supporting his friend Ferrer, who he greatly respects.

"Ferrer made the quarters of Wimbledon last year, made the semis of the U. S. Open and the Australian Open, and the finals of Roland Garros. The guy deserves to be seeded where he is," Murray said in the same article. "His results in the Slams are phenomenal. I have no issue with the seeding."

Roger Federer elaborated. He said winning a Grand Slam is never supposed to be easy, and that he is focused on his first match. If Nadal and Federer make their seeds, they would meet in the quarterfinals. 

"It's not like he's unseeded," Federer said, speaking about Nadal. "Quarterfinals are still a long way away. I like tough draws."

Murray, Federer and Nadal all have 'tough draws' because they all landed in the bottom half. For England to celebrate a native-son victory after an almost eight decade drought their Scottish hope -- Andy Murray -- will have to defeat Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and either Nadal or Federer in the semifinals, and then Djokovic in the final. Of course, this assumes these men advance.

If Federer wants to hoist his 8th Wimbledon trophy, he would have to defeat Nadal, Murray and then Djokovic in the final. 

"I have a very difficult draw with Rafa being my my quarter," Federer added. "If you want to win the tournament here, you anyway have to beat the best. That's what I'm here for."

So that's that from the men. Tennis players are comfortable with the draw, well, at least the big boys are. If they are so should we be at ease. However, if you are a Murray, Nadal or Federer fan, go ahead and speculate on the depth of your despair. You are not alone. 

Serena and Maria … The Ladies' Singles Draw has had little attention outside the many projected pairings in the first round and quarterfinals, when seeds begin to meet. Rather, attention has been focused on topics outside the iron gates of The All England Club. 

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First, Serena Williams (pictured left at the Australian Open. Photo credit Tennisclix.com) went through the media paddle room for controversial comments in an article published by Rolling Stone about the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. She has since apologized and talked with the girl's family. 

In the same article, though, she roped Maria Sharapova, which again raised eyebrows. "She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties, but, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it," Rolling Stone reported Williams as having said. 

Serena had been romantically linked with the unnamed, but presumed, black-hearted Grigor Dimitrov, who Sharapova now dates.

Up to her eyes in bad publicity and surely wandering from the Wimbledon task at hand, Serena approached Maria at a players' party Thursday and apologized to her for ever dragging her into the fray. 

But … all things being equal, well, not really, because Maria has not beaten Serena since the 2004 final at Wimbledon, the Russian wiped the apology from her short-term memory. At her Saturday interview she poured cream on the strawberries. 

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"If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids," Sharapova said, as reported by SI.com. Here the insinuation points to Serena's coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. (Sharapova pictured right, taking questions at The Sony Open, 2013.)

At last heard, Serena refused to take the bait, saying, "I'm really not going to comment on that," SI.com reported.

Thank goodness for small favors. However, it may not be over. One can only speculate that getting in the last word is a point of pride for each woman. But who cares, really! The point is this happened at Wimbledon, the hallowed hall of honor and glory for tennis forever upon ever.

Wimbledon can control the environment of its annual hurrah, but people are another thing, especially rich well-known women athletes like Williams and Sharapova. If the women involved were two no-name qualifiers, the news would never have been aired. Had Nadal landed on Djokovic's side of the draw, pundits would have fanned the flames of another semifinal battle, or probable historic battle … definitely battle. 

There's little we can do about controversy at Wimbledon, even though a ball has not been struck. That's because the world of opinions swirls on, no matter the locale of the tournament or staunch rigors of its history. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013