A Tale of Two Immigrant Tennis Players: Maria Sharapova and Martina Navratilova


A few months back, a reporter asked
tennis star

Serena Williams
what she thought of all the

Russian players
on the women`s tour.

Responded Williams jokingly,
"There are at least 50 `ovas` in the top ten."

As the

2005 U.S. Open
hits its annual Labor Day peak of
excitement, I just want to share with VDARE.COM readers
my personal feelings about the richest and most famous
"ova" of them all:

I want

Maria Sharapova
to go back to

Siberia
!

Critics who have harped that
VDARE.COM only criticizes browns, blacks and Asians,
take note.

Please, please, please…I want the
blonde, blue-eyed 18-year-old Sharapova to take her
haughty airs, her

cellular phone
, her

multimillion-dollar endorsements
, her insufferable
attitude, her boorish father

Yuri
, her

grunting
and return her

scrawny, pasty-pale
self to

Russia
.

No matter how many

fashion magazines
the "Ice Queen" adorns,
someone should tell Sharapova that the bony look went
out forty years ago with

Twiggy
. What`s hot today is

zaftig.
 [VDARE.COM
note:
This is
not an official VDARE.COM position. Please address
comments to Joe


directly
.]

When she gets back to Russia,
Sharapova can

load up on bliny
or use her fortune to build
orphanages. I don`t care…I just want her to disappear!

Here are three reasons, in reverse
order, I won`t be getting on the Sharapova band wagon,
thank you very much.

Sharapova is:

  • A whiner. Sharapova, who earns
    tens of millions of dollars annually playing tennis,
    complains about the balls! At a recent tournament in
    Los Angeles, a spoiled Sharapova moaned that the
    official WTA Tretorn balls are "very
    heavy on my arm
    "
    and are the cause of her
    shoulder injuries. What`s next for these brats?

  • An ingrate. Although she has
    spent more than

    half her life
    and has become rich beyond her
    wildest dreams in the U.S., Sharapova never misses a
    chance to say, "I
    am Russian!
    "

Being proud of your

ethnic roots
is understandable. But it strikes
me—traditionalist that I am—that maybe at least a nod by
Sharapova at wanting to become an American citizen would
be appropriate. Even Mexican film star

Salma Hayek
managed that.

Sharapova`s insistence that she is
"a Russian" is all the more mysterious since she
resides in Florida, never visits Russia, refuses to
represent Russia in the Fed Cup or play in the Kremlin
Cup, and has alienated Russian tennis stars Svetlana
Kuznetsova and Anastasia Myskina.

Said Kuznetsova about Sharapova,

"I
don`t know if you would call her Russian though. She is
more American then Russian. She speaks Russian with a
coarse accent." [Sharapova
remains enigma in Russia
, Reuters
]

And it isn`t just the Russian
players who don`t like Sharapova.

Martina Hingis, a former World
Number 1 player and winner of five grand slam titles,
called Sharapova,

"mean as a snake."

For all I know this may be

catty stuff
among highly competitive players. But I
think it`s more than that.

Having been a tennis fan all my
life, I can`t help comparing Sharapova to the woman who
is possibly the greatest female player ever,

Martina Navratilova
.

For one thing, Navratilova was no
quitter. Looking back on her two-decade career, she

recalled that:

"I
pulled out, I think, three times during a tournament and
about three times before a tournament in my whole
career."

More importantly is that amidst all the Sharapova
hoopla, the media has forgotten that she has scant
tennis credentials.

Compare Sharapova`s record to Navratilova`s.

Sharapova won

Wimbledon in 2004
…and that`s it. Last week, she was
ranked Number 1…for one week.

Among her other triumphs, Navratilova has 58 grand
slam titles—U.S. Open, Wimbledon, French Open and
Australian Open— to her credit. During her long career,
Navratilova spent 156 consecutive weeks and 331 total
weeks as the world`s number one player.

Of course, Navratilova accomplished her record over
nearly 15 years. Sharapova is just starting out.

But if it`s all the same to you, I`d prefer to wait
until Sharapova has actually developed a track record
before crowning her as the greatest thing
going…especially since her skills will never match
Navratilova`s.

I believe that the more athletic and fit Navratilova
with her aggressive net-charging volley game and her
left-handed topspin serve would mop the court with
Sharapova all day long.

But of most interest is
Navratilova`s commitment to American ideals versus
Sharapova`s apparent indifference. Navratilova has been
a naturalized citizen since 1981, six years after she
defected from Czechoslovakia.

In a 2000 article about Navratilova
that appeared on Salon.Com,

Steve Kettmann
wrote that even as a young girl in
her native Prague: 

"Martina in many
ways thought of herself as American."

And Kettmann included the following
quote from Navratilova`s 1985 autobiography,

Martina
.

"I was so stubborn, so
independent, that I was more American than Czech, even
as a little kid. I didn`t feel I belonged anywhere until
I came to America for the first time when I was 16. I`m
not a mystic about many things—I tend to be pretty
pragmatic about life—but I honestly believe I was born
to be American."

Even though Navratilova`s phrase—"born to be an
American"
—has a wonderful ring to it, it never
helped her get the million dollar endorsements that have
come Sharapova`s way.
Although she has recently promoted

Subaru
, Navratilova`s bisexuality excluded her from
the big money during the peak of her career.

Navratilova, now 49,
is still playing competitive tennis. With her partner
Leander Paes of India, Navratilova is seeded

seventh in the U.S. Open Mixed Doubles
.

On the draw sheet, her
name reads: MARTINA NAVRATILOVA-U.S.

When it comes to the
important things in life, like love of country,
Navratilova will always be a bigger star than Sharapova.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.