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Now it's my serve

The state of the women's game? It's in great shape

Posted: Friday February 23, 2007 1:04PM; Updated: Friday February 23, 2007 10:44PM
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Lisa Raymond (right) knows a thing or two about being on top of one's game. She and partner Sam Stosur are the No. 1-ranked women's doubles team in the world.
Lisa Raymond (right) knows a thing or two about being on top of one's game. She and partner Sam Stosur are the No. 1-ranked women's doubles team in the world.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Make way for a woman's touch! Lisa Raymond is one of the most successful doubles players in the world. Over a 13-year pro career, the Philadelphia-area native has won 61 doubles titles, including a career Grand Slam. She and her current partner, Australian Samantha Stosur, are currently ranked No. 1 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Lisa will check in from time to time with SI.com to rap about her career, life on the tour and other tennis news and notes.

Welcome to the first edition of Doubles Take! One might assume that by the title of my column, I'm going to write solely about doubles. Sure, I could likely write endless pages on the subject, but that's not what this is about.

On court, off court, you name it, I'll be sharing my thoughts and opinions with you. Besides, I thought it was time we had a woman's voice and perspective on tennis at SI.com. I don't think Jon Wertheim or Justin Gimelstob will mind too much sharing their space with a woman. Right, guys?

Let's start off with something pretty tame, yet it's a question that I'm asked time and again, as I'm sure is the case with every other female player out there: What is the state of women's tennis?

I've heard a lot of criticism of the women's game right now. I've been on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for more than 13 years, and I've been fortunate enough to play against and/or with some of the legends of our sport. Yet in all of my years, I have never seen the level of competition or athleticism as high as it is today. The female tennis player of 2007 has to be the most complete athlete in the world.

It's quite a bold statement, but one I believe to be true. In order to compete at the elite level, you must have the following qualities: extreme fitness, mental strength, catlike movement, the heart of a lion, a hunger and desire like Rocky Balboa (Rocky 1 or 2, not 4 or 5!) and absolutely, positively, no weakness. If, by chance, there is a chink in the armor somewhere, it will be exposed. Every one of these girls on the WTA hits the ball harder than the next. There is no room for error. The best part -- and the scariest as well -- is that we've only seen the beginning.

Truthfully, there have been all kinds of good news on the women's tennis front recently. Most prominently, there will now be equal prize money at Wimbledon! For the first time ever, the men and women will compete for the same prize money at the All England Club. If there was one place on earth that has built its reputation on tradition, it would be London's SW19 borough. What an incredible breakthrough, not only for women's tennis, but women's sports in general. This is truly a landmark decision.

In other news, our top 10 has seen some new arrivals. Some of the up-and coming young guns whom we have been hearing about have slowly clawed their way into the top of the WTA rankings for the first time. Nicole Vaidisova, Anna Chakvetadze and Jelena Jankovic all have broken through over the past few months after compiling some great results.

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