So yeah, I went to the BJK Exo in NYC. I've been looking forward to this thing since it was announced back in November. Excited about the Serbs of course, but of all the top ladies I had never seen the Williamses play live. So I bought my tix, booked my flight, spent the weekend grubbing (seriously, shout outs to Momofuko Ssam, Momofuko Noodle Bar, and muthafuckin' CRAFT), and rolled into the BJK exo on Monday night.
Of course New York, a city that I've had a love/hate relationship with, wouldn't make it easy for me. Snow? It was cute when I was drunk after dinner at Craft (dudes, they heat your jackets before they give them to you after dinner), but by Monday night I was pretty much over it. The snow and cold clearly affected my judgment that night because I stupidly decided to walk to Madison Square Garden from 30 Rock (about 20 blocks or so?) and by the time I got to the arena my face was frozen and I was mildly cranky. But it was nothing that a couple of Sam Adams couldn't fix.
So, first match. There were some crazy rallies but all in all it was pretty listless. The crowd wasn't particularly into it and it didn't seem tight. No deuce points, both women held fairly easily, and it probably would have gone to a tiebreak (which would have been interesting) had JJ not completely had a brain fart in that 9th game.
But Venus was Venus, swaggering around the court, and JJ was JJ, looking at herself on the big screen and fiddling with her shoes. One thing I'll say about seeing Venus live, her game is a hell of a lot more pretty to watch live than on TV. Her forehand, when it's clicking, is really mechanically pretty.
Next up, Serena and Ana. Such a contrast to the first match, insofar as there was some HITTING. The crowd was oohing and ahhhing quite a bit for both ladies as Ana's forehand was cracking and Serena was just pounding the ball off both sides. Serena settled down after the first few games and was just serving BOMBS and hitting solid. Very contained tennis.
As for Ana, the toss is still wonky, but she was actually pretty solid off both sides. I have to say that her backhand in particular was solid. I'm used to seeing her dump 50% of her backhands into the net. But she's getting a bit more drive on it and hitting with margin. So good on her. I don't know, after her showing against Serena a couple of weeks ago and now this, I'm encouraged.
Next came an onslaught of weird sports celebrities. Oh, Nancy Kerrigan. Did you really wear a black dress with sequins on it? You can take the girl out of figure skating, but you can't take the figure skating out of the girl. And of course we had Billy C., who I gotta say, has aged well. He's such a rock star, it's hilarious. And the man knows how to give a speech. There were a few stumbling notes (I'm pretty sure there are other women who have done more to empower women and educate men) but it was a nice speech that didn't seem too over the top or out of left field. All in all, it was a nice little ceremony.
And then of course we had the final. Serena was just nails. An unquestionable #1. Not much to really say about that.
So here's my beef. The whole night just felt a little hollow because it seemed like Ana and JJ were just fed to the wolves. And I don't mean that they had to play the Williamses and lose or whatever. But either this thing is an exhibition to celebrate these four women or it's a tribute and celebration of BJK. If it's the former then it was a complete miss because the Serbs were barely there. They didn't show any videos about them, spotlight, educate the crowd about them, nothing. For all anyone in the crowd knew, these were just a couple of scrubs. Obviously I'm biased, but I thought that was a missed opportunity.
Now, if it wasn't supposed to be a celebration of the players and more a celebration of BJK, I would have liked to have seen them give the Serbs an opportunity to do that. I was hoping that the two would be invited back out onto the court during the trophy ceremony, to at least be there and be a part of the tribute. But as it was they came, they picked up their check, and they left. Disappointing.
As for the HBO broadcast, thank goodness I was watching it live and not on TV. I rewatched it tonight and good Lord I have no idea how any of you put up with that crap. John McEnroe can suck my left nut. And if you thought I was annoyed with how the Serbs were treated at the event, imagine my rage when having to watch the Williams lovefest on TV. Yes, they're amazing. And yes, they deserve all the accolades that come their way. But dude, there IS another girl on the court. And occasionally she DOES do something that's worth mentioning. So maybe instead of completely denigrating them you can shut the fuck up and celebrate the players and bring more people into women's tennis. You want to know why tennis in America fails whenever the Williamses aren't involved? Because you, the commentators, give zero respect to any other player and you don't give people a reason to watch. Why would I want to watch a weaponless diva who may or may not be slower this year than last year? And why would I want to watch a "perfectly nice girl" who doesn't believe she can win when steps on the court? Yes, I, C Note, know their flaws and whatnot, but regular people don't. Don't give them a reason to write them off just because their last name isn't Williams.
All in all, it was a really fun event, and I finally got to see the Williams live. That said, it was a missed opportunity on many different levels.