Posted on: March 27, 2008 8:23 pm

From Regular Girls to Coco Channel

“Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.” William Shakespeare

“I am just a regular girl. I do what regular girls do.” A tennis player. All tennis players.

You can’t go wrong, they all are “regular girls,” when they’re not playing tennis that is. They never forget that part. Off the court, they are just like any other girl. Or so they think. They repeat it often, as though they’d been trained to. Maybe it’s compulsory when you join the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

That could be their next slogan. “We’re just regular girls.” Only, we play tennis better than you, we make loads of money doing it and we stay in nice hotels because we’re constently on the road, living off suitcases. But we swear, “we’re regular girls.”

Yet, for some reasons, I don’t believe they show a remarkable grasp of the real world, or the regular girl’s world, should I say instead. They do live in the real world. They are elite athletes whose lives are dedicated to be better than their "friends," but that is still the real world.

It is true though that I am not exactly familiar with what being a regular girl means. But I believe that I can safely say that not many of them do buy a house in Belgrade Serbia, another one near Miami, Florida and a third one in San Diego, California, because, and I quote, “you understand I need a place to put all those Gucci shoes and Louis Vuitton handbags that I buy.”

That was “regular girl” No. 1, Jelena Jankovic. She is charming, her smile is contagious. But her idea of shopping may be a little different that from most 20 year olds. She admits it though: “I have to swipe my card, I am like a regular girl.”

“I wish I didn’t have to get up every morning and go practice. I’d like to take my time, you know, like a regular girl. That’s what I do when I go home.” That’s “regular girl” No. 2, Anna Chakvetadze. Moscow, Russia is home to her.

Note to Anna: Unless you’re unemployed, you don’t take your time in the morning. She also admits that, “I don’t think about money.” She made nearly $1.5 million on the court last year. Isn’t she your kind of “regular girl?”

Aside from being “regular girls” off the court, most of those young women aspire to become the new Coco Channel.

Jankovic has already launched her own line of clothing back home in Serbia. It’s called JJ. How inspired!

Venus Williams is already donning her own creation on the court. It’s called Eleven. “One better than ten” she like to add. That’s brilliant marketing, isn’t it?

Maria Sharapova is also talking about it. She is "fascinated" by Asian fashion.

However and that is the fascinating part to me, I have watched three matches today where both girls were wearing the exact same outfit.

And, that is what regular girls do, they dress alike.

Side note: my “Grand Slam of the Americas” idea is catching up. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, on the main stadium and James Blake, on the Grandstand are scheduled to play Friday afternoon. While Pablo Cuevas, of Uruguay, is set to anchor the night session against Fernando Gonzalez, of Chile. The Americas, I told you so.

Posted on: March 25, 2008 2:25 pm

Indian Wells, War and Racism

Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic claimed the WTA and ATP titles at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California on Sunday. Both of them were born in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1987.

Djokovic is the best tennis player in the world today. He won the Australian Open and the first masters series of the season. Enough said

Ivanovic was the No.1 seed in the Coachella Valley – that’s how people who live there like to call Palm Springs where the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is located. She lost in the Australian Open final earlier this year. She is not the best on the women’s side, but she is very close to the top.

Djokovic and Ivanovic were eleven when NATO forces launched a three-month long offensive against their city, destroying downtown buildings, airports and bridges. My Serbian friends still refer to it as the “NATO Aggression.”

NATO forces, at the time, were led by American general Wesley Clark. The same Clark, who may, I am told, become Hillary Clinton’s running mate as vice president, should she win the democratic primaries. Which proves she is not lying after all when she says she is ready to run the USA. She too knows people who can bomb the crap out civilians thousand of miles from Washington.

Even though they grew up through the hardship of war, Djokovic and Ivanovic have become great athletes and seemingly great young people too. The tennis fans around the world are always keen on watching them play, or imitating fellow tennis players (Djokovic’s second job on tour).

They both have left their country. She now resides in Basel, Switzerland, Roger Federer’s hometown. His primary residence is now Monte-Carlo, Monaco, with the rich and famous. And yet, both of them proudly defend the colors of their shrinking country and never complain publicly about the war. They talk about it, when asked (who hasn’t heard Ivanovic’s recall of tennis matches played in a pool?), but I have never heard any of them bring it up on their own.

In the meantime, still in Indian Wells, WTA head Larry Scott said that he strongly disagrees with comments made by Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus, regarding racism on the women's tour.

"Well, I'm black and I'm prejudiced, very prejudiced. People are prejudiced in tennis. I don't think Venus or Serena was ever accepted by tennis. They never will be."

This is what Mr. Williams told the Deccan Herald, an Indian daily newspaper, while his daughters were playing in Bangalore, India.

Did Mr. Williams go too far? Is he wrong? No one can deny that racism is still vibrant in today’s American society. Otherwise, why would presidential candidate Barack Obama give a lengthy, very lengthy, speech about race? He is definitely a formidable orator, but the “race speech” he delivered on March 18, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was seriously long and I daresay, completely useless if you’re not a pundit on a 24-hour news channel.

I don’t know for a fact whether people are prejudiced in tennis, but I don’t see why the pro tennis tours would be little islands off the real world where everything is rosy and where everybody goes along. That doesn’t make racism acceptable, but Mr. Williams’s words understandable.

The Williams sisters haven't played at Indian Wells since 2001. They were booed after Venus pulled out of a semifinal match against her sister, citing knee tendinitis. Serena went on to win the title, but was booed during and after the championship match.

Now that I have managed to talk about war, Clinton, Obama and racism in an otherwise meaningless blog dedicated to tennis, please forgive one last trick: Matt Drudge is a genius and his site, “Drudge Report,” rules. I guess that if I praise him and his work over and over again, he will, one day, link to this page from his site, which should significantly increase viewership.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com