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Старый 17th June 2004, 14:08
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Re: Зарубежная пресса о теннисе

Capriati calls for change

Jennifer Capriati has called for changes to the structure of the tennis season in a bid to stop the glut of injuries that have hit women's tennis.
Capriati's call comes after 12 months during which all the sport's major players have suffered injuries.

"There definitely needs to be a break and that has been the case for the last few years now," she told BBC Sport.

Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters have pulled out of Wimbledon while other stars are nursing niggles.

Henin-Hardenne, the world number one, withdrew due to a lack of fitness while her Belgian compatriot Clijsters, the world number two, has a persistent wrist injury.

The pernicious nature of the women's game has accounted for all six of the sport's big hitters at some stage in the last year and not since Wimbledon 2003 have they all lined up present and correct for a Grand Slam.

Henin-Hardenne's absence means Lindsay Davenport is the only Grand Slam ever-present in that time.

With two players already ruled out before a ball has been struck in anger, short-term question marks remain over the ability of the Williams sisters, Capriati or Davenport to last a fortnight's wear and tear on the grass.

In the long-term all those connected with the sport, from stars to sponsors and marketeers to the media, will be wondering when they will see the best go head-to-head on the biggest stages again.

Capriati, despite learning to listen to her body after 14 years on and off on the tour, believes change is the only solution.

"If you can't change the dates of the Australian Open you could finish the season earlier, after the US Open," she suggested.

"You need more time to first of all do nothing, just rest and have some fun in the off season. Then you need some time to get yourself back in shape and only then should you come back and start playing competitively."

Only two years ago the women's game was at an all-time high, but since then injuries as much as anything else have seen it lose out in the popularity stakes to the men's game.

And in that time Martina Hingis, who had topped the world rankings for four consecutive years, quit the sport after losing her battle against severe ankle problems at 22.

Another Martina, Wimbledon legend Navratilova, agrees with Capriati that something has to be done.

"Potentially the women's game is fantastic but we have too many ailing players," she said.

"The game needs Serena and Venus. If you lose two of the biggest stars, the game suffers. The fascinating time will be when they are at full force and playing.

"That's where the strength of the game is, in all the stars playing at the same time."

It seems a hopeless wish at present, and even when they did all compete in last year's Wimbledon, the Williams sisters played out the final at half pace due to injury.

The victory proved particularly pyrrhic for Serena. Her successful defence was the last tennis she played in the season and the prognosis was equally poor for Venus.

She had problems with her stomach, leg and hip and was ruled out for the rest of the year with an abdominal injury.

Venus returned to action at the Australian Open, where she lost in the third round, while Serena stepped back on the court, after eight months out following knee surgery, at March's Nasdaq 100, a tournament dubbed the fifth major.

But her winning return was offset by the absence of Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters and Davenport as the revolving door of the tour's Emergency Ward 10 continued to spin off its axis.
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