The male sports landscape is full of players who have come out as gay, but only after their active playing days were over. The thinking has always been that the locker room is not a place to be an openly gay person, and there has always been question about how fans would react to a gay player in the macho world of professional sports.
Strange how many female athletes have been able to come out as gay while they were still playing, but not so much for male athletes.
But today, we have such a player. His name is Jason Collins, which is not a name most sports fans would know. A former basketball player at Stanford University, Collins has had a 12-year career in the NBA. And in a Sports Illustrated article, he says he never wanted to be the first openly gay and active player in the four major sports in this country, but since he is, he’s happy to talk.
As the story develops, it will be interesting to see how many of Collins’ former teammates will talk about how they knew or didn’t know he was gay, or how that knowledge has helped or hurt Collins in his career. And it will be interesting to see how this may help or hurt Collins’ career moving forward. As a free agent, Collins is free to sign with any team. Will teams take a chance on an openly gay athlete, or will they have those quiet conversations in locked boardrooms about team chemistry and not wanting to offend a segment of the fan base? And Collins will surely want to be seen as a basketball player at his next job, not as a public relations stunt.
It’s interesting that Collins’ announcement came in the same month at the movie “42″ documenting the struggles of Jackie Robinson as the first African-American player in major league baseball was released. It’s a huge stretch to say that Collins could be to gay athletes what Robinson was to African-Americans. African-Americans were not allowed to be in the major leagues in the 1940s. Gay players have been allowed to play sports — just not while being open about their sexuality.
But Collins might be a living symbol of the struggle of gays for acceptance throughout society, even as a non-marquee player in his sports. So chances are you had not heard of Jason Collins before today. Chances are you will hear a lot about him in the coming months and years.
A day after there was almost too much tennis at the BNP Paribas Open, the tournament today faces maybe too little tennis because of a walkover in the women’s singles draw.
No. 7 seed Samantha Stosur has withdrawn from the event because of a right calf injury.So the 11 a.m opening match on Stadium 1 is a walkover for No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber, who moves into the semifinals.
The problem is the Kerber-Stosur match was one of just four singles matches at the tournament today. The 11 a.m. spot on Stadium 1 will now be filled by a women’s doubles match moved over from Stadium 2.
The Tomas Berdych-Kevin Anderson men’s match on Stadium 1 will start no before 1 p.m., followed by Azarenka-Wozniacki in the women’s draw not before 3 p.m.
The other singles match of the day is the start of the night session between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. And so the tournament moves on . . .
Capping off what had to be one of the strangest days of tennis in the history of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Wednesday’s night sessions didn’t end until the clock was approaching 2 a.m. Thursday.
That’s when No. 1 men’s seed Novak Djokovic completed a final-set tiebreaker — naturally – to beat American Sam Querrey 6-0, 7-6 to end the play on Stadium 1 course nearly 11 hours after it started. Eleven hours for four matches!
A combination of four long three-set matches to open the day pushed the end of the so-alled day sesssion to about 10 p.m., when Rafa Nadal hung on to beat Gulbis in three sets. Earlier in the day Kevin Anderson, Maria Kirilenko and Roger Federer had won three set matches that all lasted nearly two and a half hours.
As thousands waited with the night session tickets to get into Stadium 1, Nadal finally knocked off Gulbis. That sent the day session people home and brought the night session opener of Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani to the court just after 10 p.m., a match originally scheduled for 7 p.m.
Sharapova managed to beat Errani in just two sets, but the first set went to a tiebreaker, which seemed to be some kind of rule Wednesday. Shapova finally ended the match with a 7-6, 6-2 win, just after 11 p.m. There was then about a 15 minute wait for Djokovic and Querrey to start. Djokovic made quick work of the first set with a 6-0 win, but naturally things had to stretch out and the second set went to a tiebreaker.
Play resumes today at 11 a.m., with the big match of the day a quarterfinals between Federer and Nadal starting (well, we hope it starts) at 7 p.m. to start the night session.
It is closing in on 9 p.m. and technically the day session at the BNP Paribas Open is still underway.
It has kind of been a perfect storm of three-set matches with matches stretching out in the heat of the day that has pushed things to this point. The two night session matches could have started at 7 p.m.. That would have been Sharapova-Errani. That is to be followed by Djokovic-Querrey.
At this point, a midnight finish to the day seems unlikely. 1 a.m. seems about right unless Sharapova and Djokovic both go three sets.
You know it is getting warm at the BNP Paribas Open when the court announcer reminds fans again and again that if they are on the sunny side of the court, keep drinking water. Mid-90s already and it could go higher.
You have to wonder if the heat is getting to Petr Kvitova, who just dropped four straight points on double faults to lose the second set of her match against Maria Kirilenko.
Walking through the garden area of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to the east of Stadium 1, fans are tightly pack on the grass under trees. In the area where the sun is still shining, there are wide, wide walkways.
Heard a man who has Stadium 1 tickets that he’ll stay outside of the stadium for a while. “We don’t get into the shade until 4,” he said
Stay hydrated, Indian Wells.
If you are a big fan of men’s tennis, Wednesday is the day for you at the BNP Paribas Open. How about a day of Federer, Nadal and Murray capped by Djokovic?
Yes, there is women’s tennis, including No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova starting the night session and a nice match between No. 5 Petra Kvitova and Maria Kirilenko. But mostly Wednesday is about the men.
Djokovic plays after Sharapova on Stadium 1 in the night session against American Sam Querrey, always a dangerous opponent. Earlier in the day session matches 3 and 4 will feature Federer against Stan Wawrinka followed by Nadal against qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
About the time Nadal will be on Stadium 1, Andy Murray should be playing Carlos Berlocq on Stadium 2. Earlier on Stadium 2 will be a good match between No. 17 Milos Raonic and No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
It could be a warm afternoon on the courts with temperatures predicted to be in the 90s in the afternoon. Still a great day for tennis.
John Isner, the hard-serving tall American who might have been a solid pick to make a deep dive into the men’s draw after making the finals last year at the BNP Paribas Open, instead had a short stay at the event this year.
Isner won a tiebreaker in the first set of his match against Lleyton Hewitt of Australian, but Hewitt seemed to have control of the match after that and won the last two sets for a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory over the No. 15 seeded Isner.
Isner’s big serve was certainly on display Saturday, with one of his serves in the first set reaching 138 mph. By comparison, Hewitt’s biggest serve was just 117 mph. But Isner seemed frustrated with his ground strokes throughout the match and his serve was a bit conistent at time.
Hewitt was equally as frustrated at times, once firing a ball into a courtside sign in anger. But Hewitt managed to control the pace of play most of the match and moved Isner around the baseline almost at will.
Hewitt will advance to take on Stan Wawrinka in his next match.
Samantha Stosur is starting to run into a crop of young American women in the main draws of WTA events, and the former US Open winner likes what she sees. But she isn’t ready to declare any one better than the others yet.
“I think obviously Sloane (Stephens) has made that first kind of big push to be, what is she now, top 20 and had a very good result in Australia,” said Stosur after knocking out Madison Keys in the BNP Paribas Open Saturday. “(Keys) is a little bit similar. I think she’s got a big serve and a big forehand. So I guess in some ways Sloane and Madison are similar in that respect.”
“Then you’ve for Jamie (Hampton) who plays a little bit different to those two, but she has been on the verge of some big wins,” Stosur added. “And (Christina) McHale who has kind of hovered around that 30, 40 mark (in the rankings) I think for quite a while.”
Stosur says that a lot for American fans to chose from.
“It’s just who’s going to keep making that step forward. Hopefully with such a big group of them, they can push each other along. Nobody wants to get left behind.”
After a chilly and windy Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, today looks like it could be a spectacular day in many different ways.
First, the weather is looking great. It’s about a hour before the first match starts and the sky is blue with nothing but white clouds hugging the top of the San Jacinto Mountains. And it is already warmer than it was yesterday, when the temperatures turned colder in the afternoon.
Today’s play also hold the promise of spectacular moments. How about Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka and Rafael Nadal all playing on Stadium 1 today? Toss in matches with Samantha Stosur, John Isner and Sloane Stephens and it is a full day just on Stadium 1.
Nadal will be the opening match of the night session on Stadium 1 against Ryan Harrison, and that match will get a lot of attention as we look to see how Nadal’s damaged knees hold up on the hard court.
Come on out and see some spectacular tennis today, and some spectacular weather, too.
The first two matches on Stadium 1 at the BNP Paribas Open today brought great anticipation to American fans, only to have disappointing endings for the pro-American crowds.
The opening match featured Southern California Steve Johnson, a wild card into the men’s main draw, facing two-time ATP winner Pablo Andujar of Spain. And it was Johnson who jumped to the lead, winning the first set 6-2 in dominating fashion.
But Andujar rallied to easily take the second set 6-1, setting up a loud third set. The growing crowd sensed a potential upset for Johnson, who played his college tennis at USC. The pair battled back and fourth, with the crowd cheering louder with each successful shot for Johnson. But with the set tied for 4-4, Andujar won the final two games to end the America’s upset bit and wins 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Then came and almost identical match in the women’s draw, with American Christina McHale looking to upset 13th seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia. McHale got the early break she needed and moved on to a 6-4 first set win. But Kirilenko fought back to win the second set by the same 6-4 score. Could the American manage to pull off the upset this time.
This time, the pro-McHale crowd never had a chance to get into the prospect of the upset. Kirilenko easily handled McHale in the final set 6-1.
So, two potential U.S. wins, two first-set wins, two three-set losses. Not the day the crowd had hoped for on Stadium 1.