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Serena Pregnant Pause • Returns In a Catsuit • Gladys Heldman Opens Pro Tennis For Ladies • Shapovalov Wins

Serena Williams of the USA in action against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic during their women’s first round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 29 May 2018. EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

 

 

By Nancy Gill McShea

 

I ditched my “Tiny Alice” reaction to Serena’s French Open costume today, my typical response to Edward Albee’s play when people sound small and nasty. I gaped at first, thought Serena’s entrance in a cat suit was an act of defiance to prove that women can resume careers after the birth of a baby. But I quickly modified that thought and decided it was a “performance issue.” Serena ranks among the game’s greatest players and deserves respect for resuming her professional career following the birth of her daughter. She was the 2017 Australian singles champ and should have been awarded a top eight seeding along with a huge round of applause. Serena is no doubt aware that in the 1970s women accomplished a culture change. In 1970, World Tennis magazine publisher Gladys Heldman joined the movement to establish equal rights on the court by organizing a women’s tournament in Houston, Texas, in which nine players— Julie Heldman (Gladys’s daughter), Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kerry Melville, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Judy Tegart-Dalton, and Val Ziegenfuss—signed symbolic $1 contracts to join her tour. Gladys enlisted sponsorship from Philip Morris chief Joe Cullman and ushered in the Virginia Slims professional tour…. I, too, was personally active in the feminist movement. I posed for an ad in Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine with the message that postpartum women aren’t stuck at home. In that spirit, Serena, who 48 years later plays tennis in an accelerated “up the ante” environment, gave us a modern look in the first round, announcing via her svelte appearance that it’s futile to buy into ads advising women how to achieve postpartum beach bodies. Serena is an athlete, tennis is her sport, her performance is the ultimate judgment…. In other French news today, 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov continued his rise to the top of men’s professional tennis, defeating Australia’s John Millman 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. Shapovalov is an exciting southpaw who resembles John McEnroe with great, strategic shots. He was born in Israel and moved to Canada. Would love it if he opted to become a U.S. Citizen and join Americans Noah Rubin, Frances Tiafoe and other upcoming pro stars.

 

Editors Note:

Nancy Gill McShea has spent 40 years writing over 2,500 tennis articles about the game’s stars — pros, collegians, juniors, league players, officials, volunteers, etc. — and 87 of USTA Eastern’s Hall of Fame profiles. To showcase those stars, Nancy has connected with the sport’s legends throughout the country and received five press service awards — as the Public Relations Director/Writer/Editor for the USTA Eastern Section; the Managing Editor/Writer for Eastern Roundup and Passing Shot magazines; a Copy Editor/Columnist for Tennis Week magazine; a Sectional Reporter for Tennis USA and USTA; a Columnist for Newsday; and a Staff Writer for College and Junior Tennis magazine. In 2011, She co-authored the book, Tennis in New York, with Dale Caldwell.

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