Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Let it go, Petko - the fans will (still) come.

ANDREA PETKOVIC, the entertainer of women's tennis, has been forced to abandon her trademark victory dance after complaints from players and American media, her father said.

Petkovic's father, Zoran, said after the match that players had complained about the dance, saying it was over the top.

Petkovic herself said she decided to change the routine ahead of the Brisbane International last week in response to continued questioning from journalists in the US.


''[People] didn't tell me to my face and I don't read about myself so I wouldn't know [if there was criticism], but the questions they started saying, 'Don't you feel like it's disrespectful towards your opponent?' … and this question came up over and over again,'' she said.

''The thing I used to say was always, 'Listen, the soccer players when they shoot a goal and they celebrate with all kinds of things and they don't even win the match, and nobody would ever say something against them. Or the American football guys, when they do a touchdown they do a cha-cha-cha and nobody ever says anything against them.''

Petkovic said the conservatism of tennis made the dance a problem for some commentators. ''It's just our very traditional sport and I think this was kind of strange for people,'' she said.

-- Sydney Morning Herald


Voluntary disclosure: I’m beginning to feel about Petko  the way some feel about Kim Kardashian.

Where others see charm, harmless fun and even wit(??), I only hear scratchy blackboard noises.

It wasn’t always like this, but it doesn’t take long for gimmicks (coz that’s what they are) to wear out and to be taken the wrong way (just ask Novak).

The comparison with team sports doesn’t wash. Very different dynamic and fan DNA. Little, if anything, to do with ‘conservatism’.

But for me, it’s less a question of the dance being ‘disrespectful’ to anyone (it really isn’t meant that way) than a feeling of flat-out tackiness I can’t seem to dismiss(particularly with ‘Petkorazzi’) . You should certainly be able to see why it might not be to everyone’s taste, especially when you do it after dumping out an injured opponent love-and-Oh.

Andrea Petkovic Brisbane International 2011 tZzRO4weMgHl

As it happens, I don’t know that I much understand complaints from the US press either, which seem equally OTT. You’re not compelled to like EVERYTHING you write about, nor to write about anything you so strongly dislike. And, frankly, it’s difficult to take such complaints about Petko giving “offence” seriously in the same week a mainstream US outlet saw fit to label Monfils an “idiot”.

But I’d say we’ve reached a tipping point when more and more players start coming out against the dance (would be interesting to know exactly who came out). Players, your peers – not blogger riff-raff like myself, or anyone that might be dismissed so easily as a “hater”.

It’s naive (and a little conceited) to think that everyone will, or should, like it, as many of her supporters seem to insist upon.  Maria certainly didn’t.  Maria ain’t riff-raff either. And its only sensible for someone as savvy as Petko to take note.

She said she was surprised by the negative reaction in the US in particular. ''It's strange - on the one hand the Americans really like me and they come to my matches, but they're like really bipolar,'' she said. ''They either love me or they hate me.''

I hope I know her better than to think the worst, but a tennis newbie might be excused for reading this quote as just a little self-absorbed: believe it or not, there’s a silent majority that don’t feature in Petko’s “love-me-hate-me” dichotomy of the US – one that simply couldn’t care less. One can only wonder why those WTA-fan-cliques that kick up such a fuss over Woz making it “all about her” overlook stuff like this.

She seems, in all other respects, an intelligent and likeable person – genuinely affable, her net embraces are second to none (particularly after a loss). I certainly don’t believe in ragging on her for merely trying to bring something a little different to the sport.

But she also seems talented enough and savvy enough to be able to work her charms without resorting to gimmickry, and to know when such gimmickry has run its course. In other words, you’re better than this.

There’s a difference between waging the occasional “charm offensive”, working it effortlessly (and unexpectedly) into the public eye, the way, say, Sveta did this week, and try-hard stunts that (rightly or wrongly) betray a certain craving for popularity.

I want to think well of you (and let’s face it, other than this, there’s a LOT to like), so let it go. Let it go, and believe me, the fans will come (and stay).
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