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Navratilova, Becker, McEnroe campaigning for smaller rackets

A group headed by former Wimbledon champions such as Martina Navratilova, Boris Becker and John McEnroe thinks rackets should be smaller.
PTI | By Associated Press, Wimbledon
PUBLISHED ON JUL 04, 2003 01:34 PM IST

A group headed by former Wimbledon champions such as Martina Navratilova, Boris Becker and John McEnroe thinks rackets should be smaller.

An open letter to International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti signed by 34 former players and journalists said the larger rackets made games "unbalanced and one-dimensional."

They said the more powerful, wide-bodied rackets made players reluctant to come to the net and encouraged baseline tennis. They suggested the racket width be reduced from the present limit of 12.5 inches to 9 inches "perhaps in stages over four or five years."

"The objective for all of us must be the restoration of variety in the playing styles of professional players so that baseliners, serve-volleyers and all-court players have an equal chance." "Please do not ignore this suggestion which is made by responsible individuals _ former players and journalists who are professional observers of our sport."

Other well-known former players to sign included: Stan Smith, Pete Fleming, John Lloyd, Tom Okker, Ilie Nastase, Neale Fraser, Pat Cash, Fred Stolle, Sue Barker, Guillermo Vilas and Vijay Amritraj. Wimbledon semifinalist Andy Roddick had his concerns. "I just feel if a letter's sent, it should be sent by current players," he said.

"I don't know if the ITF is going to take it too seriously _ a letter full of past players, no disrespect to those guys. They're great champions."


Tim Henman has always held British hopes at Wimbledon. And he's failed to deliver again.

This time he's trying to work out how he lost his Thursday quarterfinal match to Sebastien Grosjean of France 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Henman, 28, has made it to the Wimbledon semifinals four times in the past five years; 1998, '99, '01 and last year. He's never gotten past the fourth round at any other Grand Slam.

Since turning pro in 1993, Henman has won nine ATP titles _ the last in Adelaide, Australia, in January 2002.

Henman thinks he has five years left in his career _ and he's still hopeful of being the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

"Perhaps my chances are getting less," he said. "Still won't stop me coming back and trying."


When Australia's Mark Philippoussis needed perking up while trailing in his quarterfinal match against Alexander Popp of Germany, he turned to the experts. John Newcombe, a three-time winner of Wimbledon, 1960 champion Neale Fraser and two-time doubles victor John Fitzgerald helped motivate Philippoussis in the locker room during a rain delay Wednesday. Philippoussis came back to win the next two. "After that rain delay, I just came back a different person," Philippoussis said. "Just I lifted up my spirits, my game, my posture, the way I was walking around the court. I wanted to look more intimidating."

The two were 2-2 in the fifth set when darkness stopped play. When it resumed Thursday, Philippoussis won 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 8-6. He'll meet unseeded Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean in the semifinal Friday.


Justine Henin-Hardenne is getting tired of questions about her French Open semifinal win over Serena Williams. "It's hard some times when you win a Grand Slam," she said after Serena beat her 6-3, 6-2 in the Wimbledon semifinals Thursday. Williams called Henin-Hardenne at "cheater" after the Belgian's victory in Paris. She said Henin-Hardenne requested a timeout and then failed to acknowledge it. Following the upset, Williams drew boos when she brusquely shook hands with the Belgian. Henin-Hardenne went on to win the title against fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters. Henin-Hardenne criticized reporters Thursday for continuing to ask about her relationship with Williams.

"You like to make controversy," she said. "I understand sometimes it's your job and I totally agree with that. But I'm not a person who likes to live with that kind of thing because I think it's really stupid. There are many things that are more important in life than one point in a match."

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