Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lisa Dillman And Jealousy Against Rich, Talented And Glamorous Tennis Players

May God protect Maria Sharapova, the new U.S. Open women's champion, from Lisa Dillman, the tennis correspondent for the L.A. Times.

Just as with a former champion, Martina Hingis, Dillman seems to have conceived a bitterness toward the accomplishments of Sharapova, and is determined to give her a bad time in her stories.

Happily, the New York Times is not so unfriendly toward Sharapova, the 19-year-old Russian and "honorary American" who has been training in Florida since the age of 7 and who is so beautiful and popular that she has sold $19 million this year alone in endorsements. A New York Times column Saturday morning portrayed her finals match against Justine Henin-Hardenne as a case of "beauty and the Belgian." And this morning, NYT columnist Selena Roberts warmly congratulates Sharapova on her victory, remarking that her "commercial (for Nike named "I feel pretty"), came to life last night. On a cool evening inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, Sharapova proved her game could be as intimidating as her beauty."

There was no such talk from Dillman. She had hardly mentioned Sharapova in her semi-final coverage, concentrating on the less glamorous but resilient Henin-Hardenne. Then, following Sharapova's finals victory, all she could talk about was the star's testiness at a post-match press conference when snotty reporters kept asking her about whether she had "cheated" during the match by eating a banana after her coach had signaled her to."

Sharapova had a good comeback to such an idiotic point. She said she was more than a banana. She had just won the U.S. Open, she said, and there was more to this than eating a banana.

Women's tennis, Dillman should realize, after years of covering the matches, is a game that lives on glamor, and Sharapova is as representative of it as cherry pie is to America.

This was not the first time an L.A. Times staffer had picked outrageously on Sharapova. I think it was T.J. Simers who wrote a column complaining that it was improper that she had appeared glamorously on a billboard advertising an L.A. tennis tournament when she was only 16.

My own daughter, Kathy, wrote once for the London Times that "reporters are too nosy." Reporters who pride themselves on being obnoxious and tearing down the great are doing the journalistic profession no good.

This is not to say that Sharapova isn't strong minded and outspoken. But that is part of her glamor.

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