Monday, March 12, 2018

To HOF, or Not to HOF, That is the Question

What makes someone a "Hall of Famer?" Winning too many big titles to keep count, or contributing something perhaps a bit less tangible to the tennis landscape? Dominance, or consistency? Adoration, lionization or a respected reputation garnered from a career marked by competitiveness and success, or some notion created when all such things are mixed together to produce the public image of an individual, some who might even reach so high a status that they may be recognized by simply uttering their first name alone?

While some individuals might be more easily acknowledged before others as "worthy" of inclusion within the hallowed halls of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, is someone whose virtues must be listed and argued in favor of in order for the value of their admittance amongst the sport's "all-time greats" to be more readily accepted somehow *less* of a Hall of Famer than their aforementioned past counterparts and current peers? It's the sort of notion that has fueled arguments for years, regarding various sports and institutions.

But I'm not going to debate all that. I'm simply here to attempt to list, in some semblance of order, the women who are currently waiting in line to take their turn in the spotlight -- for some a fait accompli, for others long overdue -- in Newport, and therefore be remembered for decades thereafter, waiting to be discovered (or rediscovered) by current and/or future generations for all that they accomplished.


I've talked about compiling something of a "HOF Waiting/Most-Likely-to-Be-Invited List" for a while now, and I've finally put one together. In truth, Helena Sukova's inclusion in 2018's list in inductees spurred the completion of the task, as I'd jumped aboard her bandwagon as an overlooked former player worthy of Newport attention in last year's "Backspin Court of Appeals" post, and when she was announced as part of the latest HOF class I had a "Yeah-I-THOUGHT-so-but-why-did-it-take-so-LONG?" feeling that made some sort of a running "check list" necessary just to police Newport and see if the Powers That Be were wrongfully looking overlooking anyone ELSE bound to slip through the historical cracks -- be they long since retired, only recently gone, or even still toiling on the tennis tour -- and perhaps destined to never be given their well-earned due.

Now, I had to confine the list to (mostly, with one large exception -- in importance, as well as actual numbers of individuals) somewhat recent times. For the most part, players who at least played into the 1980s and with whom I had some passing acquaintance with their careers in something close to 'real time." Otherwise, it'd be like trying to argue who was the "greatest player ever" when I really didn't have much first-hand knowledge or memory or some of the individuals involved in the discussion other than some grainy film clips and accounts of the day. Of course, no one ever does *that*... well, wait. Of course they do.

But this is just a (fairly) reasoned listing of all (or most, as I'm sure I missed a few other potential contenders) the women who should (or might) be on the HOF voters minds'. Now, or at some point down the line. To date, more than 250 people have been inducted as official members of the Hall.

Here's a rundown of individuals who'll soon join them. Or maybe not.


GREEN - active player
ORANGE - retired 5-10 years (eligible for HOF)
RED - retired less than 5 years (weren't eligible for '18 class)
BLUE - more than 10 years past retirement
PURPLE - group entry/special class

Serena Williams - Do I really need to list the reasons? All right... 23 slams. End of discussion.
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Venus Williams - Before Serena, there was Venus. Actually, there might be Venus after Serena, too, come to think of it.
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Esther Vergeer (retired 2013) - the Dutch great won't be the first wheelchair tennis athlete in the HOF, but she'll be the greatest. She's maybe the most dominant athlete in any sport, anywhere, anytime. Ever. Vergeer should be eligible for next year's class, and it'll be an enshrinement crime if she's not immediately chosen in her first ballot year. She won 470 straight singles matches to end her career, was ranked #1 from 1999 until her 2013 retirement, claimed 21 slam singles crowns (and they didn't have a Wimbledon singles competition when she played) and 17 more in doubles, as well as 23 Masters titles (14 & 9) and seven Paralympic (4 & 3) Gold medals.


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Maria Sharapova - her Career Slam sealed the deal. The only question is whether she might be inducted in the same year as Serena, thereby forcing the opposing fandoms to decide to either forge a weekend truce, or fight one final battle to the death.
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Caroline Wozniacki - Tennis magazine's current "Top Players of the Open Era" rankings listed Wozniacki one spot *behind* Angelique Kerber. Ummm, no. With all due respect to the German, even before Melbourne, at best, it would have been an either/or proposition for that order to exist, but *after* the Dane's Australian Open title it's a little bit ridiculous when you compare their overall careers, where the edge definitely goes to the Dane (w/ two and half times more singles titles, and twice as many weeks at #1). While, in my opinion, Kerber is a "most likely" (w/ TWO slams), but still somewhat borderline, HOF entrant, every other statistic greatly lines up in the Dane's column. But this isn't a Caro-vs.-Angie argument, it's about *whether* the HOF will beckon. For Wozniacki, it now most definitely will.
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Li Na (retired 2014) - she only won nine tour singles titles, but two of them were slams and she was the first Asian champion at a major. Another Chinese player may ultimately rank higher than her (she reached #2), but none will have the impact she has, does and will have on the future landscape of the women's game. The "Li Na Generation(s)" will be a thing for a long time to come.
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SUAREZ (l) and RUANO PASCUAL (r)

Virginia Ruano Pascual/Paola Suarez (retired 2012/2010) - quite honestly, I'd forgotten just how much this duo had accomplished before gathering up info for this list. Now that I have it, I must ask why are they not *yet* enshrined? In 2010, the doubles duo of Gigi Fernandez/Natasha Zvereva were inducted into the HOF as a combo entry after going 14-4 in slam finals together. Suarez & VRP reached fourteen major finals, winning eight. Individually, Suarez won 44 doubles titles, as well as Olympic Bronze, while Ruano Pascual won 43 (plus two additional slams w/ Anabel Medina Garrigues), a mixed major and a pair of Olympic Silvers. Both reached #1 in doubles.
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Conchita Martinez (retired 2006) - any question about whether Martinez would one day be a HOFer ended when Sukova was selected for induction. If Sukova *is* a long-overlooked Hall of Famer, then Martinez is even *more* overdue.
It's easy to get lost in what Martinez wasn't and didn't do in an era that included the likes of Graf, Seles and countrywoman Sanchez, but what she did was quite impressive. The Spaniard reached slam singles finals on three surfaces, taking down Martina Navratilova (in her last slam final) at Wimbledon in one of more remarkable match-long barrage of passing shots you're ever likely to see. A five-time Fed Cup champ, Martinez had nine slam SF-or-better results in one fourteen-slam stretch in the middle of what was a very long career during which she played in 56 of 57 majors from 1991 to 2005, including eighteen consecutive appearances at Roland Garros. With singles titles over a seventeen-year span (first in 1988, last in 2005), Martinez made twelve straight season-ending championship fields, picked up 33 career singles titles (16th on the all-time list, w/ all fifteen ahead of her being either enshrined Hall of Famers, or sure-to-be-one-day active players -- Serena/Venus/Sharapova, along with four more HOFers directly following her on the title list) in 55 finals, winning nine Tier I titles (def. Sabatini, Graf, Navratilova, Sanchez, Hingis and Mauresmo -- five different players who reached #1 -- in those finals), picking up three Olympic medals in doubles (only the Williams Sisters and ASV have won more since the sport returned to the Games in '88), climbing as high as #2, she finished in the Top 5 four consecutive years from 1993-96. Seriously, Newport, get this done.
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Lisa Raymond (retired 2015) - a former NCAA champion, Raymond reached #1 in doubles (winning 79 titles, six slams, four WTAF and five mixed majors) and #15 in singles, too, reaching two slam QF before eventually becoming a doubles specialist. Her 137 weeks as WD #1 are fourth all time behind Navratilova, Huber and Black.
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Cara Black (retired 2015) and Liezel Huber (retired 2017) - I'll list Black and Huber separately, as the rough public comments that accompanied the break-up of their doubles partnership might preclude the notion of only seeing one in connection with the other. Though they *did* accomplish much together, there's enough to allow both women to stand on their own. Black was #1 for 163 weeks (3rd all-time) to Huber's 199 (2nd), but she won 60 titles to Huber's 53. A former junior champ (2 girls singles/3 girls doubles slams), Black won a tour-level singles title early in her career, and went on to win five slam doubles (4 w/ Huber, 1 w/ Stubbs) and five mixed slams (she's one of four women with a Career Mixed Slam in the Open era). Huber, too, won an additional slam title (w/ Raymond), two mixed majors, and was a contributing member to her adopted nation's (U.S.) Fed Cup efforts. Together, they added two WTAF titles, with Black winning another with Sania Mirza while Huber claimed one with Raymond. The only thing that might delay Huber's enshrinement might be that she wasn't particularly the most well-liked competitor amongst her peers. But should that matter?

HUBER (l) and BLACK (r)
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Svetlana Kuznetsova - a two-time slam winner (and four-time finalist), Sveta was a Fed Cup stalwart during Russia's glory years of dominance who climbed as high as #2 in singles. A dual threat, she's added sixteen doubles titles, including two slams, to her seventeen singles crowns. Beloved by all, she's also the queen of historically long matches, having played in the longest women's singles matches in both slam *and* Fed Cup history. Even if her versatility didn't put her over the top, her FC history would.


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Victoria Azarenka - is she a given? Possibly, but her injury history and long layoffs, barring a significant late career "second act" over the next few seasons, often leave something of a lingering whiff of "lost opportunity" on her career. Still, at her height, she was one of the few (of two, or maybe three, along with Venus and Henin) who were able to realistically threaten notions of Serena's on-court dominance over them (though she's still lost far most often than she won vs. Williams), won two slams (and reached two more finals), spent 51 weeks at #1, won a pair of mixed majors, and two Olympic medals (mixed Gold, singles Bronze). That should be enough. Unlike, say, someone like Garbine Muguruza, Azarenka has enough "extra" on her career resume that the highlights don't *only* consist of her major title runs.
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Rennae Stubbs (retired 2011) - still relevant as a commentator, the Aussie was a doubles #1, won 60 titles, including four slams (3 w/ Raymond, 1 w/ Black) and two mixed majors
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Sania Mirza - she may be something close to a "borderline" case, but she's been a huge star in India, and was the first woman from the country to reach doubles #1. Her 41 titles are a good mark in her column, along with three mixed crowns. But that she didn't win her first doubles slam until 2015 (a decade into her career), during her brief-but-phenomenally-successful run with Martina Hingis, is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, though. "Santina" won three majors in a span of just seven months. That Hingis found great success with Latisha Chan in her remaining post-Mirza time on tour, but Mirza has yet to do the same with another partner, is something of a demerit, as well. Still, she should make it to Newport eventually.
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Jiske Griffioen (retired 2017) - the best wheelchair player (so far, but likely not for long) in the post-Vergeer years, the recently retired Dutch woman fell just one major title short (U.S. singles) of becoming the first WC player to win all eight slam titles. Still, she won four slam singles and fourteen doubles crowns (six w/ Vergeer), two Masters titles (+7 WD, five w/ Vergeer) and Paralympic Golds in both disciplines.
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Petra Kvitova - she's never been #1, and her biggest success has come at just one of the majors. Yeah, but she's a MULTI-slam winner, has been ranked #2, has picked up 22 singles titles (and counting), Olympic Bronze and was the beastly heart and dominant soul of FIVE (with maybe more to come) Czech Republic Fed Cup championship squads. Plus, she's now the author of a courageous comeback story, and everybody loves 'em some Petra. She's in, but another big title or two would be nice.
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Yui Kamiji - the Japanese wheelchair #1 could soon become the first to win all eight WC slam titles, as she only needs a Wimbledon singles crown. She'd better get it soon, or else the even younger Diede de Groot might beat her to it. At 23, Kamiji has claimed five slam singles and eleven doubles crowns, as well as one and two titles, respectively, in the season-ending Wheelchair Masters events.
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Bethanie Mattek-Sands - BMS, while she's had some singles success, has made her mark as a doubles star despite a career filled with injuries. She's reached #1 and won 26 titles, including five slams. She's claimed a pair of mixed majors, as well as Olympic Gold in the discipline. Her final big "get" may be to complete a Career Doubles Slam with Lucie Safarova with a missing-piece title run at SW19.
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Samantha Stosur - with so many memories of Stosur centering around things she *hasn't* done, it's easy to forget that she's in a select group. Since she had so much doubles success before hitting her stride as a late-blooming singles player, the Aussie is one of just four women in her generation who have won slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed. The others are named Williams, Williams and Hingis. Even as a two-time slam runner-up, and a champion at the U.S. Open in 2011 (def. Serena), Stosur's HOF case is made on her versatility. She's added 24 doubles titles (w/ 2 slams and 2 WTAF) to her nine in singles, reaching doubles #1 to her singles #4, and picked up three mixed slams, as well.
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Wendy Turnbull (retired 1989) - one of the more underrated players of her era, the Aussie played into the late 1980's, though most of her biggest results came a decade earlier. Turnbull ranked as high as #3 in singles and #5 in doubles, reaching three slam singles finals and winning four slam doubles crowns, coming just an AO title short (she reached two finals) of a Career Doubles Slam, and claiming an Olympic Bronze. Ten singles titles and nearly 500 match wins, along with 55 in doubles and over 650 wins, as well as five mixed slams (Her only miss? Again, the AO.), puts her slightly below the likes of the soon-to-be-enshrined Sukova. Sukova played her last match nine years *after* Turnbull, though, and *still* took twenty years to get in. The Aussie passed that number nearly a decade ago. So, she may forever exist in the "overlooked" category, I suspect.

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Angelique Kerber - a Top 10er since 2012, Kerber has put together a career in which she's reached #1, won a pair of slams (def. Serena in one), reached another major final and took Silver at the Olympics. But pretty much *all* of her best results came in a single season. The German *may* well be a HOFer one day, but would she be even under consideration without 2016? The question makes it worth wondering whether that means she's actually *not* a Hall of Famer, after all. A few more big wins could top off her campaign, though.
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Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci - Beginning with a Roland Garros win in 2012, over a two and a half year stretch they combined to win five slam titles, finishing off a Career Doubles Slam at Wimbledon in 2014. It might be enough to make them a "conventional" HOF choice at some point. But I prefer the more "unconventional" option to get them a spot in Newport. (See below.)
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Katarina Srebotnik - the Slovenian won four singles titles early in her career, but has since evolved into a doubles specialist, reaching #1 in 2011. She's won 37 titles (10 w/ Kveta Peschke), including one slam ('11 Wimbledon w/ Peschke). Her calling card, though, could be her five mixed titles. If she could win at Wimbledon she'd complete a Career Mixed Slam, and she might have a legitimate case.

PESCHKE (l) and SREBOTNIK (r)
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Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina - the masters of the big events, the Russians have grabbed three slams and only need a title at the Australian Open to become the first duo to win all four majors, the WTAF and Olympic Gold as a pair. With much of the doubles landscape in flux, they could rise to #1 for the first time in 2018. As a bonus, both have reached slam singles semis.
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Mary Joe Fernandez (retired 2000) - MJF, as a player (not FC Captain), made the most out of what she had. In singles, she topped out at #4, reached three slam finals and three additional semis, and won Olympic Bronze. She won 19 doubles titles, including two slams (and had another RU) and two Olympic Golds.
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Dinara Safina (retired 2014) - the second Russian (after Sharapova) to reach WTA #1, Safina may go down as one of the few #1's not inducted in Newport. Half of the only sister/brother (Marat) duo to both reach singles #1, Dinara won twelve singles titles, Olympic Silver (in the '08 Russian medal sweep) and reached three slam finals. She's an interesting case, but she's known more for her cover-your-eyes performances in those finals (she won sixteen games -- combined), and likely always will be.
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Vera Zvonareva - another Russian, but one without a #1 ranking or slam singles title. Zvonareva *did* reach #2, though, won the '08 Olympic Bronze, two doubles and two singles slams, as well as a pair of Fed Cups. If she'd only won one of her two slam finals...
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Elena Dementieva (retired 2010) - she retired as the mostly-agreed-upon "best player without a slam title." Bedeviled by service problems most of her career, Dementieva's groundstrokes were still enough to get to her #3 and into a a pair of slam finals. She won Olympic Silver in '00, then eight years later came back and won Gold before stunning the tour with her sudden retirement announcement at the year-end championships two years later.

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Virginia Ruzici (retired 1987) - the first and only (for now) Romanian woman with a slam singles title ('78 RG, when she also won the WD). A Roland Garros finalist two years later in '80, as well, Ruzici won twelve singles titles.
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"The Original 9" - [from Wikipedia] "The Virginia Slims Circuit was a tennis tour consisting of a group of originally nine female professional players. Formed in 1970, the (tour) eventually became the basis for the later WTA Tour. The players, dubbed the Original 9, rebelled against the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) due to the wide inequality between the amount of prize money paid to male tennis players and to female tennis players." Of the group -- Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Judy Dalton, Kerry Melville Reid, Julie Heldman, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon and Valerie Ziegenfuss -- only King and Richey are enshrined in Newport for their career accomplishments. Why aren't they ALL? Come now, it's long past high time that the GROUP of women were listed as members of the Hall of Fame. Seriously, how has this managed to NOT happen? The HOF inducts non-playing individuals in a "Contributor" category. Well, if the non-enshrined aren't *that* then what are they? Especially with current developments around the world, the time is right for this to happen as quickly as possible.

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The Italian Fed Cup Team ("The Italian Quartet") - while Errani/Vinci might have merit as a doubles duo entrant, they're really part of a quartet of Italians who redefined women's tennis in their nation. Not only did the foursome win three Fed Cup titles (2009-10, '13) as a solid, consistent team, but they've all reached similar heights as singles players. Flavia Pennetta and Francescia Schiavone both won slam titles, while Schiavone, Errani (2) and Vinci all reached additional slam finals. To think that a single generation would produce such a group in a nation without much past success to speak of in women's tennis, maybe even more so than the Henin/Clijsters boomlet in Belgium, is surely one of the more unexpected happenings in recent tennis memory. None may make it to the Hall on their own, but as a group they're a force to be reckoned with for all times. And, really, they're sort of inseparable, right? You can't really talk about one without mentioning the other three. One day, they should storm into Newport, four astride, arm-in-arm-in-arm-in-arm, and claim the town as their own.

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Garbine Muguruza - it *shouldn't* be a question, should it? Not with TWO slams, a #1 ranking, and a rare ability to take down Williams Sisters in majors. But the Venezuelan-born Spaniard doesn't really complete too many missions anywhere OTHER than at the majors. Two of her five career titles (and 3 of 9 finals) have come in slams. Yeah, she's beaten both Serena and Venus to win them. But, still. Garbi really needs to "clutter" up her career resume a bit more to avoid being the "biggest-winning underachiever" in history.
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Simona Halep - she's become the first Romanian woman to reach #1, but she still needs a slam. Win that and we'll start the discussion there.
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Elina Svitolina - pretty much "the first Ukrainian..." to do just about everything at this point. But she's got work to do. Thankfully, she's got time to do it.
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Diede de Groot - the "next one," de Groot, armed with an ability to fire clean groundstrokes winners from all over the court, has been mentored by Vergeer and seems set to follow in her countrywoman's footsteps. At 21, she's won AO and Wimbledon singles titles, U.S. Open doubles, Masters crowns in both disciplines and might just beat Kamiji (possibly set to join her in the first real ongoing, Martina-vs.-Chrissie like, slam stage rivalry in WC tennis history) to become the first player to win all eight slam crowns. She uses "DiedetheGreat" as her Twitter handle. And, one day, she just might be.


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Manuela Maleeva (retired 1994) - the most successful of the trio of Maleeva sisters. She never reached a slam final, but advanced to two major semis and eight QF, reached #3, won 19 titles, and an Olympic Bronze. She nearly reached the Top 10 in doubles (#11), and won a mixed slam.
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Ana Ivanovic (retired 2016) - personally, AnaIvo never felt like a HOF contender to me, even with a #1 ranking and slam win. If she gets in, it'll be a case of popularity winning out over sensibility.
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Zina Garrison (retired 1997) - before Venus, Serena, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, Garrison became the first African-American in 32 years (Althea Gibson '58) in reach a slam final when she played Martina Navratilova for the Wimbledon title in 1990. She lost, of course, but ultimately reached three additional slam semis, ranked as high as #4, won fourteen singles titles, three mixed slams, and two Olympic medals (WD Gold and WS Bronze).
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Ai Sugiyama (retired 2009) - she won three slam WD (3/4 of a Career Doubles Slam, needing only the AO, where she reached a final). A mixed slam winner, Sugiyama won 38 doubles titles and was a Top 10 singles player.
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Aga Radwanska - with Wozniacki's AO win, Radwanska may go down as the best player in her generation without a slam. She *has* reached a slam final (Wimbledon '12) and won the WTAF ('15), but she'll likely forever be haunted by her '13 Wimbledon semifinal loss (9-7 3rd set) to Sabine Lisicki.

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Jelena Jankovic - reached #1, played in a slam final, and provided too much entertainment to categorize. But JJ's not a Hall of Famer. The walls couldn't contain her, anyway.
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Daniela Hantuchova (retired 2017) - despite some big singles wins (two Indian Wells) and a Top 5 ranking, Hantuchova never quite lived up to her early billing. Still, she won seven singles, nine doubles (even with a 0-3 record in slam WD finals) and a Fed Cup crown (2002). Her calling card is her Career Mixed Slam, which she actually completed twelve years before her 2017 retirement. Well past the time most players her age and with her abilities might have become a doubles specialist, Hantuchova continued to focus on her singles to diminishing results in her final years. She *did* manage to lure Martina Hingis out of retirement in 2013, but their doubles partnership was short-lived, and then Hingis went to put together a SECOND HOF-worthy career after having *already* been inducted in Newport. If Hantuchova had continued on with her own "second career" in doubles, she might have put together a resume worthy of enshrinement when she was finished, but she never went down that path.


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Kimiko Date (retired 2017) - does longevity count? Date, after a 12-year retirement returned to action in 2008 and ultimately played until age 46. In her first go-around, she rose as high as #4 and reached three slam semis.
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Anastasia Myskina (retired 2007) - she'll always be the FIRST Russian slam winner, as well as a former world #2. An underrated achiever, she was a consistent slam performer (5 QF) and led Russia to two Fed Cup titles as a player before later becoming the team's Captain in recent years. The less said about that stint, the better.
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Nadia Petrova (retired 2017, last played in '14) - a good all-around talent, but one who never posted the big singles result that might have changed her career. She had two slam SF, six QF, and an ill-timed ankle injury in 2006 that may have thwarted what would have been her best chance to win a major (she was ranked #3 at the time, winning 15 straight matches during the spring, including a victory over Justine Henin, and was generally considered one of the RG favorites that year). Still, she won 13 singles and 24 doubles titles,including a pair of season-ending championship doubles crowns and an Olympic Bronze medal. Oh, Nadia.

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Marion Bartoli - a two-time slam finalist, Bartoli reached her career zenith with a Wimbledon title run in '13. She's set to begin her comeback from a five-year retirement in Miami later this month.
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Dominika Cibulkova - admirable, but not HOF-worthy. A slam finalist and surprise WTAF winner, the odds are that the best moments of her career have already happened.
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Karolina Pliskova - she's reached #1 and been a Fed Cup cog, but she's not really in the discussion. She'd have to make a huge, extended singles surge to change that.
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Czech Fed Cup Team - even with five titles (and counting), the Maidens can't be tapped for potential HOF enshrinement as handily as the Italians. They're just too deep and diverse a lot.
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So, there you have it. Hopefully, I didn't miss anyone. And, with luck, the Hall of Fame will ultimately be able to say the same.





All for now.

16 Comments:

Blogger colt13 said...

Pretty interesting list.

The fact that Kalkman and Vandierendock are already in means wheelchair has been noticed enough that Vergeer is a first ballot lock.

Agree that Safina is not in. But it does bring up a question, as there are no Russian women in yet-only Safin. Sharapova was a lock before the suspension, but is she now? This isn't baseball, but you never know. The same thing might apply to Kuznetsova, who is a borderline case, but was accused of doping back in 2005, then was cleared.

Stosur is like Durr, she will get in because of her combined work.

Srebotnik I had not considered, but she may get in on longevity.

And Gladys Heldman is in, but you are right, The Original 9 should be in without question.

Mon Mar 12, 10:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Gladys is in, but her daughter Julie, who was one of the Original 9, isn't. Gladys was the founder/publisher of World Tennis magazine and supported the nine players' move to break away and create the original Va.Slims tournament. She played a huge role, naturally, but the players risked their careers and should be honored for that, as well.

For the record, Gladys was inducted into the HOF in 1979, but Julie remains absent. Sarah Silverman played Gladys H. in the "Battle of the Sexes" movie, by the way.

Here's an LA Times story on Julie, who played just one point vs. BJK in the original Virginia Slims of Houston before the eight-woman draw took place, officially making her part of the "nine." She was injured, but defied the threat of suspension by playing at all.

Mon Mar 12, 12:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I consider Kunetsova a lock. She better be. And the “doping” incident was just one of many embarrassing ITF/WADA actions (unfortunately, egged on by a particularly nasty and uninformed Dementieva).

Mon Mar 12, 07:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I think her Fed Cup and doubles success should put her over the top.

Mon Mar 12, 08:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Oooh I like venus' forehand and love Serena's drop shots. Been so long ago when venus actually won.

Tue Mar 13, 12:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Almost four years, actually. Of course, they've only met six times since 2009.

2013 Charleston SF - Serena 6-1,6-2
2014 Montreal SF - Venus 6-7(2),6-2,6-3
2015 Wimbledon 4r - Serena 6-4,6-3
2015 U.S. Open QF - Serena 6-2,1-6,6-3
2017 Australian Open F - Serena 6-4,6-4
2018 Indian Wells 3r - Venus 6-3,6-4

Meaningless Note: this was the first time they've ever met in the THIRD Round of any event, and the earliest in a full draw event since their first meeting in the AO 2nd Rd. in 1998

Tue Mar 13, 01:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

No notes are meaningless.

Did see that veteran Petra Martic is guaranteed to be in the Top 40 for the first time. At 40 now, and 32 if she wins her next match.

Kastakina is at 15 in live rankings, but potentially could be passed by Suarez Navarro.

Vesnina will be unseeded in Miami.

Konta will be, but will drop out of the Top 20 without a good result.

Wed Mar 14, 11:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ha. ;)

Wow, that's a precipitous fall for Konta. It feels like she was in the Top 10 just a few minutes ago.

Wed Mar 14, 12:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

I think you should pay a bit of attention to the young players dominating Indian Wells: Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina - they are outplaying their oponents right now - especially Pliskova and Kerber were downed quite efficiently - Kerber was litterally destroyed 60 62 by Kasatkina. Osaka has been coached by Sacha Baijin since X-mas and he's done wonders to her by brinking stabillity and mental strenght and refining her serve and shots. Did you see Kasatkinas shot outside in whre the ball curved back from a position outside the line - never seen that and her hop backhand impressive too.

Fri Mar 16, 10:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I agree, which is why I'm glad I've tried to talk about them both quite a bit this season (especially the Sascha/Naomi combo). ;)

Osaka's ability to close out opponents (either after seeing them catch up, ala vs. Sharapova, or simply outhitting them and handily taking a final set, ala vs. Aga/Sachia/Sakkari/Pliskova) has been super impressive, especially in light of her past history showing that to be a problem before Bajin. Meanwhile, Kasatkina has just been a monster out there. :)

Yep, saw that shot -- I think Dasha herself was even a bit flabbergasted that she managed to get that one inside the line. :D

Hmmm, could we see a final of "The Heart of Backspin" (Simona) vs. "The Hope of Backspin" (Kasatkina)?

Fri Mar 16, 02:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

It's the return of the 20 year olds to a final in Indian Wells - guess last time was when Caroline did as 20 year old 2011. Nice to see such positive and sympathic players in the final. Just one player tried to beat Kasatkina and tha was Caroline in what I call a game of tennis chess - don't know if you buy this term ;)

Sat Mar 17, 04:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

So will Osaka use the tweener vs Kasatkina?

This will either be Osaka's first title, or Kasatkina's second. New for IW, as whoever loses will be the first since Clijsters in 2001 to have reached the final before a slam final.

On current play, this is even. On history, probably Kasatkina. Why? Because she has reached 4 finals in her career, all in the last 52 weeks. The good omen for Osaka? The other 3 opponents(Ostapenko#66, Goerges#27, Svitolina#4) either were, or reached the Top 10 after.

Either way, a great storyline. Either somebody would have beaten the current #1, then won the title, or gone through Venus to do it, which happened in over half of her tournaments last year.

Sat Mar 17, 11:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Leif-
I *do* like it. ;)

Overall, this is the first tour final between two players 20-or-under since Charleston last year (Kasatkina d. Ostapenko, both 19).

Colt-
So, "unusual suspects" in the desert. Sounds like the basis for a theme for this week's post. (hint)

Sat Mar 17, 02:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, so Serena is back for two events, and gets drawn to play Venus early in one, then faces the IW champ in the 1st Rd. in the other. Sort of makes you wonder about just how "blind" those draws are, huh, after Halep/Sharapova worked out so well for the U.S. Open? I'm just sayin'.

By the way, since I had some internet issues this weekend I got a bit behind, so I'll post the I.W. recap on Monday and, since the draw has been made, will combine that with the Miami picks so I won't have to do that pesky second post in a few days. ;)

Mon Mar 19, 01:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Things happen.

I assume Osaka's speech will be in the recap.

Mon Mar 19, 10:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, yeah. :)

Mon Mar 19, 04:34:00 PM EDT  

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