A Babe Like This Can Make A Lot of ‘Racquet’ Off The Court
When is the last time you watched a tennis match?
Knew the dates of the French Open or Wimbledon?
Yeah, me too.
What tennis needs to capture interest outside of the diehards is a doll of a player. A babe who is sassy, appears to date everyone but really no one (providing plenty of sizzling gossip for the London tabloids and TMZ), whose pictures light up the Internet and social media, and who prompts advertisers to come up with eye-catching ads for the likes of sports bras with the tagline of “Only The Balls Should Bounce.”
In other words, it needs another Anna Kournikova.
Tennis is in a rut and has been in one for several years. It is the domain of the tennis fan and few others. That’s the case on both the men’s and women’s side. In order to be successful, individual sports like tennis and golf need personalities. They are simply not captivating enough on their own as a sport for the general public to watch and pay attention to on a regular basis.
Look how golf suffered when Tiger Woods was not on tour.
And when you lose fans, you lose advertisers and sponsors.
Kournikova proved to be the perfect personalty to draw in a crowd, from teenage boys to grown men to even young girls. And especially advertisers. She had a complicated love life that the tabloids loved – one day she flashes what appeared to be a wedding ring from Sergei Fedorov in the Detroit Red Wings locker room only to be seen with another guy a few weeks later and she dressed in outfits that on most other women would be considered slutty but on her looked dripping hot.
One year, after a first-round match, the London papers ran 22 photos of Kournikova. Is that coverage or what? Or lack of coverage, as least as clothing goes, in Kournikova’s case.
The next Anna, like the original one, doesn’t have to win tournaments. She just needs to advance every so often to the quarterfinals and semifinals so she gets more TV and on-site attention. Bigger audience, bigger fans, bigger advertising dollars.
Otherwise, tennis is just not that interesting to watch. Who are the personalities out there, what is the draw?
Tennis either needs a new Kournikova or or a modern-day hothead like John McEnroe with a rival like Bjorn Borg.
Personally, I’ll opt for a new Anna.
About the writer: Kevin Wilkerson has written about sports for more than 20 years and while a reporter for a daily newspaper, covered several of the WTA’s Family Circle Cup on Hilton Head Island, S.C.