27 Jan 10 | Re: The benefit of investment in sport
Great to see two Chinese tennis players in the semis of the Australian Open. After Zheng Jie’s run at Wimbledon in 08 it seems the stars have aligned again for her and Li Na, making them the latest example of the curious trend for women’s tennis players to come in groups from the same area.
Most recently there were Ivanovic and Jankovic, who’ve both sunk from view at about the same time as well. A few years before them we had the Russian explosion, with as many as 40% of competitors in grand slams having names ending in -ova. Before that there were two players from Belgium, Henin and Clijsters. And before that there were two players from the same house in Los Angeles. What this probably means is that women’s tennis is a sport where a bit of investment and intensive coaching can reap particular rewards - I expect Li and Zheng have benefited from pre-Olympic investment in China. When a country decides that what it needs is a few useful hardcourt performers, all it needs to do is get the coaches, spot some promising young girls, stump up the cash and wait a few years to reap the success. Unless it’s Britain, obviously.
I wonder if the Bahranians are watching. You might remember how they and some of the other Gulf states, having no sporting success of their own, like to buy up the loyalty of Kenyan runners (and hilariously make them change their names to Arab ones). They would surely get a better return on a girls’ tennis academy. Yet another reason for them to bring in gender equality.
Posted by CHOW YUN FAT at 22:23