Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Maria Sharapova and being proven wrong

While elite female tennis players average 15.5 year-careers, I really thought that Maria Sharapova was done in by her nagging shoulder injury. She proved that she could not only make a comeback but perhaps just as importantly, to prove that she was not the latest in line of Anna Kournikova clones who capitalized on her looks while being a mediocre tennis player.

Sharapova was far from that. She was darn good. Although she didn’t win as much as the Williams sisters, I thought that she persevered despite the pain and her hectic endorsement and modeling gigs. Through it all, she proclaimed that tennis was her life. And she proved it She won one slam title in 2004, 2006, and 2008 and it seemed that the even numbered years were favorable to her. Only she was out due to her injury and she didn’t win a major title in 2010.

And that makes here 2012 triumph at Roland Garros all the more special. She was up against a gauntlet of challengers whose only difficulty Sharapova seemed to face was the pronunciation of their surnames. Of course, I am kidding but Masha did not. She only dropped one set in the 15 that she played en route to the French Open title. After she dispatched Italian Sara Errani in two sets, Sharapova finally completed all the Grand Slam titles beginning with Wimbledon (’04), the US Open (’06), and the Australian (’08).

Here’s to a few more years of dominance, Masha (if the 15 year-career is to be followed, Sharapova still has four more years to add to her career titles and earnings.

What follows is something I wrote for Business Mirror in 2006. My 18th column for the newspaper will read somewhat dated today but nevertheless, I am re-posting it here for all to read.


Advantage Sharapova
by rick olivares

“I am Maria Sharapova and not anyone else,” declared tennis’s most photographed and followed sensation with a touch of vehemence. But do people care for anyone else? She has gotten her point across like a 90-mph ace. The accent, the Russian ethnicity, and the flowing blonde hair --- the similarities with Anna Kournikova end there for this statuesque Siberian Siren has actually won WTA tournaments and a Grand Slam event and for a time was ranked World Number One.

“I don’t want to be a tennis babe,” she protests about her popularity. Yet she plays in whistle-bait Nike dresses that are deviously cut-ting edge making her among the most photographed in sports today. With each and every grunt she makes (she’s actually been reprimanded for that!), it is agony and ecstasy on the stands. In her march back to the top of the rankings and earnings, she’s finally out-Googled Kournikova (7,010,000 to 6,400,000 although Anna’s entries is still impressive considering she isn’t playing competitive tennis anymore).

“Actually my dad gave me a phone to call my parents,” explained the tall and leggy blonde whose phone rang one time during a match that earned her a stern reprimand from the umpire. After she won Wimbledon, an IMG executive watching the match on TV called up Motorola to offer her an endorsement contract. About a year later and a hefty deal, Motorola threw a birthday bash for her in Manhattan for some 700 guests. Keep it up, girl, Madison Avenue continues to beckon (Canon has snapped her up to go with her Nike, NEC, and Prince endorsements among many others).

It’s customary for people to turn their heads with each volley and return, but when Maria’s playing, there have been more reported cases of stiff necks than heat strokes.

Incredibly, more men (even some women too) have been consulting compatibility charts in hopes of finding room for a wild card entry into this budding superstar’s heart.  Unfortunately, they all have to contend with Andy Roddick whose rumored romance with Maria has been the most followed sports romance story. More than the relationship between beach volleyball star Misty May and Florida Marlins catcher Matt Treanor and Tiger Woods and model Elin Nordegren.

It’s unavoidable, this sex-and-sports thing with women’s tennis. I’m not referring to that battle of the sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It’s Sharapova leading the charge of pretty Russian women (who seemed to have rolled out of the same assembly line) who have made the women’s tour more popular than ever. You know that it’s transcended the sport when Maria’s appearance in the last Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue made it the fastest-selling February issue of SI ever. Skin without erotica. So when was the last time Playboy mattered, huh?

“It’s Maria time now,” declared Sharapova after fending off the latest Kournikova comparisons. “I want to win, not just to look good.” And so she wipes the sweat off her brow, after dusting off Amelie Mauresmo with those atomic strokes of hers to reach the US Open Women’s Singles Finals.

"I am thrilled to be in the final," Sharapova said. "I had a horrible record against Amelie and that ended today, and I have a horrible record against Justine, so I hope that's a good omen." And just like that, she’s off to take a look at some visual pegs of the latest advertising campaign offered to her.

Why not? It’s all part of her planned take-ova.


Read this from ESPN.

1 comment:

  1. Sharapova right now is my favourite female tennis player. Not only has she recovered, she has also improved (i.e. better ball control). This is why I am happy she finally won another Grand Slam title.