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Nobody's safe

Sharing tennis facilities with women is full of drama

Posted: Friday August 26, 2005 12:16PM; Updated: Friday August 26, 2005 12:21PM
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Justin Gimelstob
No one can accuse Justin Gimelstob (pictured here battling Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon in July) of holding anything back.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Justin Gimelstob has played on the ATP men's professional tennis tour for nine years, winning 12 doubles titles during that span. Over the course of his career, he has developed a reputation for being opinionated and outspoken. Luckily for SI.com, he'll be writing entries every few days from the U.S. Open, where he'll be competing.

I think "Nobody's safe" is an appropriate title for my first blog entry. As long as you enjoy my opinions and insights, I am going to give them to you. Some might be controversial, some might be humorous, but all will be honest and, hopefully, thought-provoking. With that said, my first target is ... the women on tour.

Both the ATP and WTA have made a conscious effort to create as many co-ed tournaments as possible outside of the Grand Slam events. I completely agree with the initiative and think it's great for the game and the spectators. However, there are some annoying things sharing a site with women entails.

As dysfunctional as the men's tour is, the women's tour blows it away. For example, it's impossible for there to be enough practice courts for men and women to share without some kind of bickering. This is probably because of the fact that women have a bizarre refusal to practice with their fellow competitors. It's insane -- they literally would prefer to hit four on a court with their coach than two on a court with another player. They live in Bizarro World.

However, one of the benefits of having the women around is the ever-increasing desire for each and every young sassy player trying to outdo -- or in this case, under-dress -- the next.

My prediction? Pretty soon the WTA practice courts, and maybe even the match courts, will resemble a women's volleyball court, with g-strings and bikinis being the only logical next step. Not that I'm complaining, or even think that wouldn't be a valuable marketing tool. But I'd like to recommend to players both female and male, and even coaches out on the practice courts: If you resemble a beached whale, keep your gear on!

Another dynamic I find interesting is the players' lounges at joint events. In these player-exclusive hangouts, you'll find two groups of women: On one side you have the WTA players, many of whom are very attractive and in great shape. Unfortunately for them, they have to share the space with the most beautiful one percent of female creatures on the planet: men's players' girlfriends and wives.

It's an unfair competition when you have the girlfriends showing up looking like they're ready to stroll down a runway. Meanwhile, you've got the female players hanging out in tennis gear, dripping sweat from their practices and matches. We all know women are competitive creatures, and even I have some sympathy for the players who have to deal with the "glamour girls" whenever they turn the corner.

On the other hand, I'd like to congratulate the boys. They are peaking. There is more talent in the players' lounge currently then there's ever been, and the boys are raising the bar every day. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the obvious physical discrepancies between some of these guys and their significant others. I'm not quite sure what some of these girls see in some of them, but to each her own -- I'm non-judgmental.