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    Cups Runneth Down Under

    Some live tennis is being played, but in a series called Love-30, the Tennis Channel has been mostly rebroadcasting the 30 best matches of the year. There certainly is live controversy Down Under, though, in advance of the Australian Open. On Tennis Channel's news crawler, I caught a glimpse of a story about players being fined $75K for playing the Hopman Cup, an exhibition tournament named after the legendary Aussie tennis coach.

    Exhibitions have long been controversial. In 1991, Monica Seles ticked off a lot of people when she withdrew from Wimbledon, citing an injury, only to play an exo in Mahwah NJ for a guaranteed six-figure payday. There's no income equality in tennis. Once they've succeeded on the tour, top players can make stress-free money playing exos, but the tour and the tournament organizers need those top players to attract crowds that keep their tournaments profitable, and claim that without the tour, there would be no top players. Tennis politics is truly Byzantine.

    10sballs had the Hopman Cup story, WTA Grants Waivers to Wozniacki and Azarenka:

    The WTA has granted a one-time waiver to Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka to play in the World Tennis Charity Invitational in Thailand on Sunday, January 1, 2012. Normally, players are not allowed to compete in exhibitions during tournament weeks where there’s a Premier level event occurring like the one in Brisbane, which runs Jan. 1-8.

    However, WTA spokesman Andrew Walker told Daily Tennis News that because that “100% of the proceeds will be donated to support victims of the terrible flooding in Thailand, along with the fact that the exhibition will use non-traditional scoring” the waiver was granted.

    ... Wozniacki is going to play another exhibition, the Hopman Cup, in Perth, that week. ... All the WTA players who choose to play the Hopman Cup will be fined, but sources have told DTN that the tournament itself will play the fines itself.

    In, Margaret Court Riles Up Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, the woman who won 24 majors, but lost to Bobby Riggs, has spoken out against lesbians—again:

    ... Court, founder and senior pastor at Victory Life Church in Perth, Western Australia, has a history of making anti-gay comments and previously riled Navratilova by accusing her of setting a bad example to young players, accusing lesbians of ruining women’s tennis.

    Speaking to The Western Australian newspaper insisted same-sex marriages were “alternative, unhealthy, unnatural unions”. She added: “To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimize what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong.”

    Predictably a fierce backlash came from Navratilova and King. Navratilova said: “Seems to me a lot of people have evolved as has the Bible. Unfortunately Margaret Court has not.

    Jonathan Scott of also weighs in:

    In the last analysis, Margaret Court is not lord—and thank God for that. It is beyond odd that the one who made a name for herself by winning the most Slam singles titles among all tennis players is now perched to insert herself on the wrong side of history. Margaret Court holds a great record, as well as some repulsive personal views. She must also be held accountable. The tongue is a rudder, steers the entire ship of the self. Those are not my words; they hail from Court's own Bible. What she has wrought by way of her vitriol has been paid back with the same. But she's likely to get the worst of it when the Australian Open begins in less than a month: Don't be surprised to find Margaret Court Arena awash in all the colors of the rainbow in a showing of solidarity and support for people who Court continues to malign. Yea, she will yet reap a whirlwind.

    Margaret Court Arena is essentially Show Court #1 at Melbourne Park, and the third largest stadium at the Australian Open venue. The biggest stadium is Rod Laver Arena.

    Coincidentally, the Margaret Court Cup junior tournament has received only 88 valid entries this year—300 arrived after the new Tennis Australia deadlines.


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