Sports for the Girls: Serena Williams, Sarah Gronert
'I like sports and animals, and everyone knows that you can’t have a good sports team without a great mascot. For this reason -- and the fact that friends of mine just got a puppy and are constantly cleaning their carpet -- Sports For The Girls starts with some unpredictable animal mascots -- whether people dressed them that way, or not.' Plus, Serena Williams and Sarah Gronert.
I like sports and animals, and everyone knows that you can’t have a good sports team without a great mascot. For this reason -- and the fact that friends of mine just got a puppy and are constantly cleaning their carpet -- Sports For The Girls starts with some unpredictable animal mascots -- whether people dressed them that way, or not.
They’re cute, right? What could possibly go wrong…
Picture a beautiful April evening. Fans have gathered to watch the Greenville, N.C. Grasshoppers -- farm team for the Florida Marlins – engage in America’s favorite past time. Black Lab mascot, Master Yogi Berra is there to rally the team, but trouble begins brewing when he fetches a ball launched to center field in between innings. Trotting back to home plate, Yogi stops and squats, leaving that morning’s breakfast behind.
The home plate umpire reportedly did not look lightly on the incident, and ejected Yogi from the game.
Other baseball fans cheered a spontaneous mascot, as they watched a stray calico cat being chased by security guards around the Wrigley Field outfield. Jokes involving the term “pussy” quickly developed into superstitious concerns that the cat didn’t have to be black for a playoff curse to crush the Cub’s playoff dreams once again.
It was no dream mascot for CSN reporter, Lisa Hillary either. She was minding her own business reporting the NHL playoffs for the Washington Capitals. Positioned on the ice, next to one of the team gate openings when, ahhh!!!, a massive rat darted out of the opening right at her. A 10-second video shows her appropriately freaking out over the incident, but when it was over and done with, the camera didn’t show where the rat went. Except for the gate next to the ice, there’s no place for the critter to hide. Does it hang out under the bench with the skates or does it hang out next to the guy in seat 407? That seat holds the super-fan that couldn’t decide between nachos and the chili dog so he got both, and only got half of each in his mouth for yelling obscenities at the ref. Happy rat…unhappy reporter.
Let’s stay calm and move on to some serious sports subjects. First up, is serious competitor talk from one of the Williams sisters. Serena still rates herself the best player in the world even though she was just beaten for the top seed by Dinara Safina. She backs that talk up with 10 Grand Slam singles while Dinara has none. They both might be moving down with a new German player that is just hitting the U.S. news.
More on next page...
Her name is Sarah Gronert, and she was born with both female and male genitalia. She had surgery at 19 and now 22 years old, she is legally a woman. She’s been cleared by both the International Tennis Federation and the WTA Tour to compete in the women’s tour. Gronert’s situation differs from that of MTF transsexual, Renée Richards, who sued to secure the right to play on the women's tour back in the ‘70s.She went on to play tennis professionally until 1981, then coached Martina Navratilova for two years before returning to the practice of ophthalmology.
Gronert finds herself under that same uncomfortable scrutiny from her opponents and their coaches, who believe that a unique gender issue from birth should make her ineligible for the woman's tour. Three years ago, those issues almost caused Gronert, ranked No. 619 in the world, to abandon her career. Though she has since returned to competitive tennis, the dialogue that continues to surround her relates not to her ability, but to her biology.
Martina Navratilova, now an analyst for the Tennis Channel, has been quoted as stating “It's a one-of-a-kind case,” while others have been more self-serving:
"There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams," said Schlomo Tzoref, Julia Glushko’s coach, whom Gronert recently beat on her way to winning the Raanana tournament in Israel in early March. "When I heard her story, I was in shock. I don't know if it's fair that she can compete or not. She does have an advantage, but if this is what the WTA have decided, they probably know best. If she begins to play continuously, within six months she will be within the Top 50."
Gronert has appeared in nine tournaments in the last three years, winning two this year. The purse for both titles was $10,000 each. Her competitors feel she had an unfair advantage in winning those purses, which will lead her to continue to rise in the sport unfairly. The longer Gronert competes, the more fevered the conversation will grow.
Miss the last Sports for Girls? Read it here!