Spinning the Olympics: Top 9 Notes from London

by: Jonathan Scott | August 06, 2012

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I was born on September 9. That's 9/9, and if I must, my birth year was 1981. Nine times nine is 81. Thus, what we have here, Spin mates, is the perfect birth date. And long story long, that is why I offer to you now my top 9 notes from the Olympic tennis finals weekend. Enjoy, and let me know what your addendum would be to make it a solid top 10 list.

In entirely arguable order of importance, as ranked by your Spin keeper ...

[9]  She still gets drummed up, and not for the best reasons: About Lolo Jones' media marketing blitz: “'It reminds me of Anna Kournikova,' said Janice Forsyth, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario. This was a reference to the former Russian tennis player whose looks received far more attention than her relatively meager skills."

[8]  Serena Williams remains an outsized personality and headline grabber. Her on-court dance after claiming her first Olympic singles gold medal incited a riot of response online. The oh-so-technical title for that move is the "C-Walk," or the Crip Walk, and, much to Venus Williams's delight, here's her go at it:

(Disclaimer: It's probably a matter of minutes before NBC and the International Olympic Committee yank that clip offline.)

[7]  While not so often in the broadcast booth to call matches, though they did take to Centre Court for the men's and women's singles finals, John McEnroe and Mary Carillo have been doing fine work elsewhere during these London Games, notably for NBC's evening and late-night programming. And Mary may join Twitter yet. Here's hoping, as what does she have to lose, really, aside from her heart and soul? Memo to NBC: The pairing of Johnny Mac and ginger-domed Olympic gold-winning snowboarder Shaun White isn't on par with, say, Regis and Kathie Lee. Cease and desist. It's awkward, just as that word itself looks ... awkward.

[6]  Wonder who's more torn up about this Olympic showing, Novak Djokovic or the doubles tandem of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond. All lost their bronze-medal matches, with the latter two (at ages 35 and 38) potentially playing in their final Olympic Games.

[5]  Credit where due: Juan Martin del Potro has never played better on grass than in taking Roger Federer to 19-17 in their semifinal's last set before bowing out. Also, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova bounced back from a fairly tight loss to the Williams sisters and snagged Olympic bronze in women's doubles, topping Huber and Raymond.

[4]  Per Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, "The Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova gold medal match drew 7.9 million viewers on NBC." Now just imagine the ratings haul had that match actually been good and close in lieu of Serena serving Maria an unkind carb basket. Bagel, meet breadstick: 6-0, 6-1. It's a good thing that no one—okay, someone did, somewhere—played a drinking game based on every time that NBC shot to Sharapova's players' box for a look at her not-so-new friend, the comedienne Chelsea Handler. Whoever did imbibe like that must have been rendered under the table and dreaming by the first set's end. (Here's Maria's six minutes of infamy on Handler's Chelsea Lately show in February.)

[3]  V-V-Vikary: Victoria Azarenka should be well pleased with her Olympic showing, despite the setback of Serena's onslaught in the women's singles semifinals. "Vika" weathered a 6-1, 6-2 Williams win and returned to take bronze over Kirilenko. The Belarusian then partnered with Max Mirnyi for a 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 victory in the gold-medal round. She certainly made the most.

[2]  Andy Murray exorcised his grass-court demons (maybe even just his big-time match demons) and drubbed Federer in the men's gold-medal match. The Spin would like to thing our own preview on this Wimbledon-Olympics about-face for Murray was prescient, even catalyzed his championship form. Here again is your Spin doctor's take on Murray pre-Olympics for the New York Times. Andy did well to doff the "grousing louse" label and show exquisite play in every round of these Games—and, it should be mentioned, in the mixed doubles draw to boot, ultimately ceding the gold-medal final with Laura Robson to Azarenka and Mirnyi, no doubles slouches themselves.

[1]  Venus and Serena claim gold in doubles, this for the third time. First came 2000, and then 2008. Now it's 2012, and SI's Jon Wertheim says that, unsolicited, Venus is talking about the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. With this display of power, aggression, and chronically under-credited court sense—not to mention having snatched a fifth Wimbledon doubles crown a month ago—what, really, says that she can't be an Olympian at age 36? That's the Huber-Raymond realm, and they're still doing it (and doing it well). What's more, Venus played some sensational singles matches before succumbing to her own snatch-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory ways against Angelique Kerber. She must be quite heartened by her showing—and if Venus is happy, tennis fans the world over should also be.

YOUR TURN: What was your favorite 2012 Olympic tennis moment?

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