It’s often said that injury is part of an athlete’s life. But even so, it was easy to feel frustrated for Anne Keothavong when her left knee gave way as she tried to avoid a fence while chasing down a drop shot on a Californian hard court in July. Ligament damage brought an untimely end to a season in which the British number one produced some wonderful results.
In February, Keothavong became the first woman from these shores in 16 years to break inside the world’s top 50. She had also reached two WTA Tour semi-finals in the first half of the season – before that freak injury.
Now midway through a lengthy rehab programme, Keothavong is targeting February next year for her comeback. Can she regain that top 50 berth? Watch this space.
Frankly, the US Open had failed to really catch fire until Melanie Oudin (currently trading on Betfair at around 80.0 to win the Australian Open) ripped up the form book and announced herself as the new hope of American tennis. The plucky little teenager from Marietta, Georgia upset a whole cluster of Russian women on her way to a maiden Grand Slam quarter final appearance – Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova among those to fall victim to Oudin’s incredible fighting spirit.
The American eventually ran out of gas against fellow teenager Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter finals – but hey didn’t she do her country proud.
Tempers on tour
It was the must-see moment in women’s tennis this season – and quite some way for Serena Williams to mark the end of her reign as US Open champion.
Already struggling to stay with Kim Clijsters in their semi-final clash, Serena decided to launch a vitriol of abuse at a line judge who had just called the American for a foot-fault. Serena was docked a point and lost the match. She refused to apologise immediately for her tirade and only issued a statement to say sorry two days later.
It’s probably an incident that Serena wishes to forget. But she can’t yet, as she still waits to hear what her punishment will be from the International Tennis Federation. It could be a simple fine or worse still, a ban from the Australian Open – where she is the defending champion.
Fairytale of New York
An obvious choice yes – but it would be remiss not to mention Kim Clijsters’ remarkable run to a second US Open crown in September. In what was just her third tournament back on tour after retiring to get married and become a mother, Clijsters dismantled both of the Williams sisters en route to the title. She also became the first mum to win a Grand Slam singles event since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon, way back in 1980!
Clijsters has now announced she will play all four Grand Slam events in her select schedule for 2010. The brilliant Belgian has certainly set the bar pretty high for anyone attempting a comeback of their own. The returning Justine Henin for one will be hard pressed to match what her compatriot Clijsters achieved in New York.
2009: otherwise known as the year of the Japanese veteran in women’s tennis. Before she finally retired from the sport in October, Ai Sugiyama set the all-time record – for men or women – of 62 consecutive Grand Slam main draw singles appearances. It is a truly stunning achievement that may never be beaten.
Sugiyama’s compatriot Kimiko Date-Krumm also returned to the WTA Tour this season after a 12 year absence. On the cusp of her 39th birthday, Date-Krumm brilliantly rolled back the years in September when she won the Korean Open.
In doing so, Date-Krumm became the second oldest champion at a WTA Tour singles tournament in the Open era. It was also her first singles title in 13 years. Now that’s a comeback!
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
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BIOGRAPHY: Eric Bailly