Lifting the mood: Tennis Majors’ top 30 lockdown stars (Part 3, From 20 to 16)

As the tennis world begins to come out of lockdown, we celebrate those who found a special way to keep the sport alive through their personality, energy and wit. We rank the top 30. Here, we bring you No 20 to No 16.

#30-26 : If you missed it, read the 1st part here
#25-21 : If you missed it, read the 2nd part here

#20 Kiki Bertens, back-to-back Madrid titles on clay… and on PlayStation

What Kiki Bertens did

There’s something about Kiki Bertens and Madrid. Runner-up in 2018, the Dutchwoman won the biggest title of her career when she won it in 2019, so she would have been more disappointed than most not to play there in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Bertens swapped her racquets for a console and came out on top in the first ever Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, seeing off France’s Fiona Ferro in the final.

Kiki Bertens during the Mutua Madrid Open Masters match on day eight at Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain.May 11, 2019.

“I got the PlayStation about a week and a half before the event and then I played almost every day,” she told BBC Sport. “Of course it doesn’t compare to playing for real on the court, but when I do something I always want to win, even for a good cause. That’s how I am, how competitive I am.”

Why it matters

Bertens donated half of her 60,000 euros first prize to the relief fund for lower-ranked players while the other half went to causes in the Netherlands.

“I will use this money to help people in our country because I think a lot are struggling here,” she said. “I am still deciding which funds to help exactly, but everything will go to a good cause.”

What’s next?

With Andy Murray winning the men’s event, perhaps it’s time for a mixed event to decide the best of the best?

#19 Steve Simon, on board with the merger idea

What Steve Simon did

The WTA boss, Steve Simon, supported the concept of a merger between the ATP and the WTA, which Roger Federer had called for on Twitter on May 22.

Simon told the Daily Telegraph that agreeing everything might take time but that it would be worth it:

“You certainly can’t go in with those expectations that (financial equality) is immediately there. I think it’s a long-term goal. But I think that, by coming together, we are presenting the sport in a way that our fans and our partners and the marketplace will embrace.”

Why it matters

ATP Tour chairman Andrea Gaudenzi also welcomed the suggestion of a merger. The idea has been in the pipeline for a while. But never have the key actors of tennis been on the same page at the same time. Today, having ATP and WTA chiefs backing the concept simultaneously is significant.

Steve Simon, WTA chairman

As one of the founders of the ATP, Donald Dell, expressed in our series about tennis governance:

“The efficiency of tennis governance depends on the leadership of the chairmen”.

“They have to act to make their sport grow and not for the interest of their institution”, he added.

What next?

For now a merged tour is a mere idea. To be converted into a true possibility, talks have to take place between the relevant bodies and actors. It will clearly help to measure the real appetite of the men for a merger, beyond the positions of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

#18 Serena Williams, having the most fun on social networks

What Serena Williams did

Serena – who is, by the way, a co-founder of this media, TennisMajors.com – would be the first to admit that she’s not enjoyed the constraints of lockdown but as you might expect, she’s been making the most of the opportunity to star in a few videos of her own on social media. From “morning yoga” to a workout with sister Venus, including some impressive stretching, the former world No 1 has been staying in shape and having fun. Not to mention also helping with the distribution of face covers in West Palm Beach.

 

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These pictures moved me, and made my heart smile. I wanted to do something impactful and in communities that are sadly underserved during these times. I teamed up with @bellacanvas and @serena to make a difference and send out daily face covers to those who needed them. We sent over 45,000 daily face covers to the Yetunde Price Resource Center (@YPRCLA) and local communities in the West Palm Beach area who are providing care for the families of essential front-line healthcare workers. We also had a MASSIVE giveaway on our SerenaWilliams.com website. We literally gave away masks to customers at no cost. That was an amazing feeling. Of course they went fast but it felt amazing to support those always supporting me. I adore you all.

Une publication partagée par Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) le 8 Mai 2020 à 12 :01 PDT

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Morning yoga

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Why it matters

Because it’s Serena. Everything she does is news, and particularly so in lockdown, when fans have been starved of their favourite players. Sharing a little news, offering a few tips and posting a few videos keeps everyone happy.

Especially, she admitted that her body really needed a break, which will no doubt also help her to be mentally refreshed and eager for more triumphs.

“I felt like my body needed it, even though I didn’t want it, she stated. And now I’m feeling better than ever. I’m feeling more relaxed, more fit. Now I can go out and play real tennis.”

What next?

Like most players, Serena’s been missing the competition and she is keen to get cracking in search of that record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.

“I really look forward to getting back on the court,” Serena told sister Venus during an Instagram Live workout.”It’s what I do best. I absolutely love playing.”

#17 Stan Wawrinka, Mister social networks

What Stan Wawrinka did

Stan Wawrinka has been one of the most influential players on social media during the lockdown imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Swiss, who turned 35 on March 28, participated in several Instagram Lives with fellow players (Benoit Paire, Novak Djokovic, Chris Evert), and posted several funny clips on his account, such as editing multiple versions of himself into workouts.

Why it matters

At a time when tennis fans lacked content from their stars, Wawrinka participated in feeding them. His Lives with Paire were of great entertainment. The three-time Grand Slam champion also expressed particularly interesting views during his exchanges with fellow players. He told Benoît Paire what went into his mind when serving for the match in the French Open final, he discussed his rivalry with Djokovic, he expressed his view about the future of his career with Evert. He also spoke very openly to Tennis Majors in Major Talk, for instance, about his toughest loss against Roger Federer at the 2014 ATP Finals. Wawrinka demonstrated that tennis players are not robots and they go through plenty of emotions on and off the court.

What next?

Wawrinka is eager to play tennis again. He is considering participating in exhibitions but wants to train before.

#16 Ash Barty, as strong a support for medical staff as her progress on golf courses

What Ash Barty did

Ashleigh Barty visited the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Queensland along with Patrick Rafter. Barty, whose sister Sara is a midwife and whose mother Josie also works in radiology, was responsible for the idea. During the lockdown, The N.1 in the world spent plenty of time practising golf, a passion of hers, reducing her handicap from 10 to five.

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Scratch is calling 👀🏌🏽‍♀️ #CoachGaz

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Why it matters

By visiting a hospital, the WTA world No 1 set an example. With Patrick Rafter, she demonstrated her solidarity with health workers in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have plenty of Pat and Ash fans here and the smile on their faces around the hospital has been exceptional”, said the director of the Hospital.

What next?

Ashleigh Barty is looking to defend her title at the French Open, from September 20th to October 4th. She’s already back on court.

The previous episodes

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