Whether they’ve watched the Australian Open final or not, the stars of the WTA are united in awe of Serena and Venus Williams.
Sport’s most famous and successful sister act wrote a new chapter in tennis history when they faced off in the title decider in Melbourne, and at 35 and 36, Serena and Venus showed the world there is no expiration date to their record-shattering ways.
World No6 Agnieszka Radwanska watched both the women’s and men’s (Federer v Nadal) Australian Open finals and said it felt like a blast from the past.
“Well, it was a very good match. Of course, reminds me those times when I was a kid and I was watching them (Venus and Serena) playing finals. That was kind of, like, comeback for the beginning of the 2000s years,” Radwanska told reporters in Doha.
Dominika Cibulkova, the world No5 who is seeded third in the Qatari capital this week, lost in the third round in Melbourne and said she never watches matches after exiting the tournament.
She did however describe both Williams sisters as inspirational.
“Serena, she’s a legend. I think it was great for her. She said she had only one goal: to come there and to win a grand slam. Her confidence is really, really something we all can look up to,” said Cibulkova of the world No1, who captured an Open Era record 23rd major title last month.
“And Venus, you know, I think she gives hope to – I don’t want this to sound bad – but, like, she’s older than me, and she still can play finals of a grand slam. That’s something I really admire in her,” added the 27-year-old Slovak.
The Germans were upset and angry following a blunder at the opening ceremony to the World Group tie in Maui, Hawaii, on Saturday.
An American soloist sang an old version of the German anthem which leads off with a stanza considered overtly nationalist – “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles” – a reference to German supremacy.
Singing that version is a major ‘no-no’ in Germany, because of its strong links to the Nazi era, and only the third stanza of the old anthem is now in use.
Organisers apologised for the gaffe but a fuming Petkovic went on to lose to Alison Riske 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 to put the USA 1-0 up in the first singles rubber.
The president of the US Tennis Association, Katrina Adams, immediately apologised to Rittner in person and has said they will investigate.
The USTA extends a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team & fans 4 the outdated National Anthem. This mistake will not occur again. pic.twitter.com/4LyG3ACe5u— USTA (@usta) February 11, 2017
The German tennis federation replied tersely, saying:
The anthem gaffe cast a cloud over the German camp even before Petkovic’s defeat.
Here, Sport360 looks at other examples when the wrong national anthem has been played at sporting events.
URUGUAY VS MEXICO, COPA AMERICA, 2016
Uruguay were in for a shock when they lined up for the national anthems ahead of their game against Mexico, as they were greeted by Chile’s national anthem rather than their own. The gaffe drew a raised eyebrow from Luis Suarez and boos from the Uruguay fans in the crowd.
SPAIN VS AUSTRALIA, DAVIS CUP, 2003
At the 2003 Davis Cup final in Melbourne, a mix-up led to an outdated anthem being played for Spain, one that was used as the national anthem only between 1931 and 1939 and contained crude jokes about the Spanish royal family. The Spanish sports minister stormed out of the stadium, while organisers tried to make up for the mistake by playing the correct national anthem for the rest of the weekend.
2012 ARAB SHOOTING CHAMPIONSHIPS
The people of Kazakhstan were outraged by Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy film, Borat, in which the country was depicted in a satirical light that was not appreciated. When the spoof anthem used in the movie was played at the Arab Shooting Championships for gold medallist Maria Dmitrienko, the Kazakh delegation was outraged, and the medal ceremony was rerun.
NORTH KOREA vs COLOMBIA, 2012 OLYMPICS
Not exactly a national anthem gaffe, but the North Korean women’s football team was left fuming at the beginning of their game against Colombia in the 2012 Olympics. The big screen at the ground put the South Korean flag alongside images of the North Korean team, leading the team to leave the pitch in protest. The match was delayed by an hour as the error was rectified.
NIGERIA vs JAPAN, MEN’S FOOTBALL, 2016 OLYMPICS
Another Olympics, another error. Organisers at Rio de Janeiro belatedly realised they’d played the anthem for Niger, not Nigeria, ahead of Nigeria’s game against Japan. Fans immediately took to social media to condemn the mistake, and the Nigerian team later received an apology.
ARGENTINA VS EL SALVADOR, 2015
Isle of Man’s national anthem is called Ellan Vannin in the island’s native language, Manx, which is the only fact that lends a semblance of sense here. Ellan Vannin and El Salvador are next to each other on a list of national anthems, and the Manx anthem was played for El Salvador ahead of this football friendly in the United States.
DOHA — Angelique Kerber enters the Middle East swing knowing that final appearances in Doha and Dubai would give her back the world No1 ranking she conceded to Serena Williams last month but the German insists she is solely focused on regaining her confidence rather than the top spot.
Kerber, seeded No1 in Doha, is back in action for the first time since her Australian Open fourth round defeat to American Coco Vandeweghe three weeks ago and is hoping she can recapture her bulldozing form of last season here on the hard courts of the Qatari capital, before heading to Dubai next week.
The 29-year-old arrived to Doha last Thursday to give herself a chance to acclimatise to the conditions, although the sunny weather she expected is nowhere to be seen with a light drizzle interrupting qualifying action yesterday and rain forecasted for the next few days.
Asked if she had her eyes on reclaiming the No1 ranking, Kerber told reporters in Doha on Sunday: “For me it’s really important to play good tennis, to try to improving my tennis. This is actually my goal always.
“Of course, I will do my best in the next few weeks, few months. If you play good tennis, I mean, then you have results. This is actually for me the most important thing, to win matches again, getting the confidence back, then we will see what’s happen in the next few months.”
Rounding off the top five seeds in Doha are US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova, WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova, five-time Doha semi-finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, and French Open title holder Garbine Muguruza.
Kerber, like her fellow top-four seeds, has a bye in the first round and awaits the winner of the clash between talented Russian teen Daria Kasatkina and Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
The 28th-ranked Kasatkina upset Kerber in Sydney last month and could prove a tricky opener for the German world No2 should she get past Begu.
“I think it was not bad to get a bigger rest, to get ready for these two tournaments (Doha and Dubai),” said Kerber, who is drawn to potentially face seventh-seeded Timea Bacsinszky in the quarter-finals and possibly No4 seed Radwanska in the semis.
“I’m feeling good. Of course, the first rounds are always a little bit tougher because you have to get used to the tournament feeling again, to the match things.
“But, yeah, I think that I’m ready. I really enjoy my tennis right now on the practice court. So, yeah, for me the tournament can start already.”
Radwanska will also be playing her first match since her shock Australian Open second round exit at the hands of the 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The Polish world No6 opens her Doha campaign against either ex-world No1 Caroline Wozniacki or Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens.
She spent the last couple of weeks training hard at home in Krakow in preparation for the Gulf tournaments.
“Of course, it depends how you do in Melbourne. I wish I didn’t have that gap, but…” said Radwanska, referring to the lengthy time she had between tournaments due to her early loss at the Australian Open.
“Two weeks in our season is quite a long time that you can do something. Of course, I had it, so I used it well, I guess. I hope. Well, we’ll see how it goes here.”
Doha quick hits (not including qualifiers)
Singles wildcards: Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR), Fatma Al-Nabhani (OMA)
Youngest singles player: Daria Kasatkina, 19-years-old (May 7, 1997)
Oldest singles player: Roberta Vinci, 33-years-old (February 18, 1983)
Singles withdrawals: World No10 Johanna Konta (change of schedule), world No8 Svetlana Kuznetsova (abdominal injury), defending champion Carla Suárez Navarro (right shoulder)
Main draw debutantes: Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU), Kiki Bertens (NED), Monica Puig (PUR), Laura Siegemund (GER)