“I hope people see me as more than just Rory’s girlfriend, I would like to be known for my tennis. I’m definitely not just a WAG, as they say.”—Caroline Wozniacki at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, on how she wants to be seen at The Masters golf tournament this week.
Okay, a part of me thinks Wozniacki made that remark for just one reason: To use the expression “WAG,” which is an au courant term for “wives and girlfriends” of famous athletes. It isn’t exactly a flattering term; the on-line Urban Dictionary begins its definition like this:
“A selection of over-publicised, vacuous anorexics found lurking at (British) football matches, easily distinguished by their orange skin tone and high body plastic index. . .”
Why on earth would Wozniacki, who will be dutifully trudging around in the sticky heat of the deep south following the fortunes of her golfing boyfriend, Rory McIlroy, even think she would be taken for a WAG? And furthermore, why should she feel compelled to distinguish herself from a society of pilot-fish women who make people snicker and roll their eyes, and who represent the antithesis of her own WTA peer group?
Granted, Wozniacki is a native Pole now living in and playing for Denmark; she’s no master of the English language and its nuances. But it’s still pretty stunning that she would feel obliged to make a remark that sounds simultaneously so defensive and arrogant. After all, one subtext in her curious remark is: “Look—I’m as hot as a WAG!”
Can it be that Wozniacki is just being mentally tone deaf? We’ve seen other examples to support that theory, mostly in the way she doesn’t seem to know when a joke ceases being funny (or, in some cases, is funny to begin with). Or maybe she’s feeling a little bit down about her tennis, if not quite down enough to spend the week practicing for the upcoming clay-court season instead of basking in the limelight at The Masters.
Well, that’s her business. She’s young and famous, has made tons of money, and is in love—with a fellow athlete-celebrity, no less. But the way she’s handling this little sojourn to Atlanta makes me think she’s something like a worst-case scenario for the glamour-obsessed WTA. She gets the photo shoots, she gets the endorsements and fawning features, she’s a crossover star and she seems to love every moment of it. But it’s all out of proportion to her achievements.
Wozniacki’s consistency helped make her the only player in WTA history to finish number one in the world for two consecutive years—without having won a Grand Slam title. She’s slipped to No. 10 in the world rankings and has made just one final this year. That was at Indian Wells, where she was crushed, two-and-two, by Maria Sharapova, and then suggested at the trophy ceremony that she welcomed the opportunity to get “revenge” at the next tournament, Miami.
See what I mean about “tone deaf?”
There are worse things on earth than getting stuck with a game that’s just not good enough to win Grand Slam titles, but is sufficiently solid to keep you in the Top 10. That’s a real dilemma for an ambitious athlete with a champion’s heart, but that’s where Wozniacki has been so disappointing. It just doesn’t seem like she cares enough about how close she has come to greatness without quite achieving it. Her attitude seems to be, Why torture myself, when there are so many other rewards and riches in the pipeline?
Maybe down deep she’s disappointed, and perhaps determined to prove her critics wrong. But I don’t think so. More and more, she seems just. . . conceited. And also happy. Life’s too good to sweat the small stuff, even if you run the risk of being mistaken for a WAG.