May 21, 2008

Justine Henin’s Shocking Retirement: WTA Flaws Exposed by Tennis Star

Posted in christian tennis, Christian Tennis Academy, Christian Tennis Outreach, Christian Tennis Player, ICTA Tennis, ICTA Tennis Ministry, International Christian Tennis Association, Lindsey Davenport, Maria Sharapova, scott paschal, Scott Paschal Tennis, Tennis Devotionals, Tennis Ministry, Uncategorized, WTA CEO Larry Scott, WTA Tennis tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:01 pm by Scott Paschal

Justine Henin, the #1 ranked WTA player, launched a huge, international statement directly at the WTA on Wednesday by quitting as a professional tennis player.

Without warning, the tennis world’s #1 female player looked straight in the WTA’s eyes and forced them to finally listen to her.

Never before in the history of women’s professional tennis has the #1 player walked away!

Magazines and newspapers and TV shows are quickly spreading the “shocking” news…

I wasn’t shocked.

Over and over during the last year, Justine kept telling the world she was getting fatigued.

The tennis gods refused to listen….

And it seems they’ve refused to learn, as well. Instead of looking inward to see what responsibility they have in this terribly embarassing situation, they smoothly moved Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic to the front of the line.

I wonder if they asked young, unsuspecting Ana Ivanovic if she wanted a blindfold and a cigarette.

As much as Venus Williams changed women’s tennis, Justine Henin also brought hope. She reminded us all that heart is important.

She was a tiny giant among towering tennis superpowers… such as Lindsey Davenport, Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jancovic….

The tiny giant brought the tiny female players worldwide back to tennis… the ones who had became discouraged and quit when height took over the sport. Yet, our tiny giant needed rest, and none was allowed by the tennis gods.

When a player becomes injured, the WTA protects their ranking while they heal from injury, thus when the player recovers she can pick up where she left off. I had written an article recommending the WTA allow a player the same protection for mental fatigue recovery, or physical recovery before a major injury occurs.

The tennis gods refused to listen….

Justine Henin’s Mom died when Justine was in juniors.

The tennis gods refused to listen…

She didn’t speak to her Dad for 8 years.

The tennis gods refused to listen…

I remember when she got married. I also remember last year’s divorce.

The tennis gods refused to listen…

Recently, instead of offering players more freedom to rest, the WTA chose to force top players to attend more tournaments by stiffly fining players who pulled out of events.

The tennis gods also made Indian Wells and Miami (world’s 5th and 6th largest pro tournaments) mandatory for players to enter. These two 2-week long events are played back to back.

Immediately after announcing her retirement, Justine Henin demanded her name be completely removed from the WTA ranking list! That statement was huge. Embarrassingly to the WTA, their heavily marketed Maria Sharapova was moved to the #1 spot without having earned it.

For once in a long, long time the tennis gods have been forced to listen….

Justine Henin’s statement is huge.

Professional tennis is about $. Anyone who thinks differently is clueless. The WTA and ATP worship the almighty dollar. Image is everything and players are simply the product. They are cattle to be used to feed the masses.

Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and winner of 3 Super Bowls, blasted the NFL in the ’90s by saying he believes the NFL players are nothing more than prostitutes for the NFL….

Could the same be said by female professional tennis players towards the WTA… that players are simply prostituted to the masses as a source of entertainment and revenue?

The WTA seems to claim to be an organization designed to represent the players’ needs. Is this happening?

The #1 WTA player in the world, and arguably one of the best female players in history, quit!

She demanded her name be removed from the WTA rankings!

As the WTA’s public relations people quickly move into position to keep the public from seeing the real issues, tennis fans worldwide will begin to see the WTA heavily pimp their next prostitu.., excuse me 😉 … promote their next player, which looks to be Ana Ivanavic.

I have little doubt Ana Ivanavic will be gone at 23 or 24 years of age. Her body will be broken down, her mind exhausted, her spirit broken. Like Kim Clysters and Anastasia Myskina, she will crave a real life and love from people who treat her like a human being.

So, what is there, really, with the WTA? New players simply replacing the old? What do tennis fans truly invest in… why even bother falling in love with a WTA player’s game when you know she’s soon worn out?

The #1 female player in the world just quit! She walked away and asked to have her name removed from the WTA computer rankings! She said “no” to millions of $ in prize money, said “no” to millions of $ in sponsor money….

The Women’s Tennis Association must stand up and take notice of their champion walking away, and they must be willing to take some responsibility for their part in her decision.

I’m no brain surgeon, but I do know that when a champion even hints they are tired, they should be listened to and help should be given. When a champion hints changes should be made to help the other athletes, they should be listened to.

When a young person is in trouble, those in a position to help should help.

Take away the facade of tennis.

A kid was hurting. Her mother is dead. She was estranged by her father for 8 years. Last year, her marriage fell apart in divorce. Basically, her only family is her long time coach, Carlos.

Young girls worldwide chase the dream of becoming the #1 WTA player in the world….

Why? Is it for fame and fortune? If so, they are chasing a rainbow’s pot of gold.

The vast emptiness at the top of women’s pro tennis is a wasteland of pain, isolation, and doubt. For the very few who reach financial security, it comes with a cost. Possibly a cost too steep to pay.

What is the answer? Easy.

Jesus Christ.

Without question, placing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of her life will change the lenses from which life is viewed.

It seems the WTA has worked diligently to allow a player’s sex life and sexual preferences take Center Court.

Yet, if one mentions Jesus Christ, or even the spiritual needs of players from all religions, the WTA gods quickly cry foul.

Did you know not even one Christian Chaplain is officially allowed in players’ areas at tournaments? Why? How can this be?

We talk all day about the technical and tactical game of tennis. We discuss nutrition and fitness. Mental training is a hot topic. But, as much, if not more, than any of these is a player’s spiritual fitness.

Without question, Chaplains from every major religion must be allowed access to the players, coaches, tournament staff, volunteers, media, and fans who want them there.

Terrorism, isolation, mafia, constant worldwide travel, lack of family stability… WTA and ATP players need guidance…. spiritual guidance. And the guidance shouldn’t come from the tennis gods….

When will the giants of tennis past step up and lead? When will our current and former Grand Slam champions reach out for the next generation with the message of hope that is Christ? When will Jesus take center court in tennis?

In America, when will hiding behind political correctness to protect your reputation be a thing of the past? Christians worldwide are being martyred at record pace… they’re being murdered daily for their faith in Jesus… they’re being tortured… and they refuse to back down!

That’s how the 12 disciples did it. That’s how Jesus did it.

Yet, in tennis, including past American tennis greats, we have a bunch of geldings worrying about their reputations.

It’s not supposed to be easy and it’s not supposed to be fun and it’s not supposed to be cool. You are a Christian, a follower of Christ… you are heavily involved in a spiritual battle… you have work to do.

Stop hiding, stop whining, stop being politically correct.

Stop trying to be “cool” hoping your “coolness” will “win people” for Christ. It doesn’t work. Worldly techniques can’t effectively fight a spiritual battle.

Tell this lost generation about Jesus. Start sharing the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will convict those you speak to. Start using your influence to bring the name of Jesus to all people groups worldwide.

Learn to understand how a small band of Jewish brothers sent the name of Christ global. Learn to understand how followers of Christ in Rome stood strong, spoke of their faith in Jesus, refused to waver in intense persecution… and conquered the most powerful nation of their day.

Honestly, I wonder if Jesus would be sitting in a box seat being celebrated during the US OPEN.

Without question, I understand I’m a little nobody in ministry and in tennis. Let me make that clear. I’m in no way the authority on anything, and I can see much improvement I need to do in my own walk with Christ.

And maybe in some ways I’m not seeing the whole picture here. But, that said, you can’t really make much of an argument that I haven’t worked my tail off with the resources and knowledge, however limited, I’ve had at my disposal.

I make mistakes, and I’ve worked to learn life lessons. I’m not even hinting at any type of perfection in my life choices.

What I am saying is when a large platform is offered, Jesus Christ should be the One being celebrated.

Players, coaches, fans… former Grand Slam Champions… should make Jesus’ name and story the focal point. Ask yourself why “sexual orientation” is all the rage, yet Jesus is viewed with hate and anger.

Justine Henin’s retirement shocked the world. Yet, there is a bigger picture here.

The tennis world is void of meaning. The purpose of tennis is void of life. $ and power last just so long, then a need for meaning becomes crystal clear.

If you have influence in tennis, you can have a real purpose beyond yourself.

And, if you are a nobody like me, you can have influence to. Just read the Bible and strive to do what it says.

It’s really that simple.

Read the Bible and strive to do what it says…

God bless,

Coach Scotty

International Christian Tennis Association

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6 Comments »

  1. Jordan Tathe said,

    Scott

    I can say you have made your points clear and spoke them into my heart. This is a courage in you.

  2. jordan,

    thanks. but, i have no courage if not by fearing God.

    if it weren’t for God making my life happen, i would quit ministry and go do something i enjoy. my work in ministry is work, a battle, a struggle. it’s not fun and i’m not good at it.

    right now, i’m simply being obedient to God’s clear and present call to obedience. that’s it… nothing more and nothing less.

    God bless, scotty

  3. Kurt Bishop said,

    I just found this article and it is right on point. I serve as a military chaplain and even though chaplains are a part of the daily military life and I see many similarities between the tennis leadership and many military leaders. There are always those who will try to minimize our outreach and marginalize what we do. We as Christians have to be strong in Christ and know that God will watch over us as we do what He has called us to do, even when things might get a little uncomfortable for us. Thank you for what you do for the Kingdom and for His glory.

    In Christ,
    Kurt Bishop

  4. Jacob said,

    I will not blame the WTA completely for the frustrations and retirements of Justine Henin. Being a nationally ranked tennis player in India and Oman, what I have noticed in tennis players is that they lead a glamorous life and forget that all their fame and fortune comes with God’s blessings!!!
    Pride goes before a fall!!! Money is the root of all evil unless we have this divine concept of tithing mentioned in the Bible. Tennis is a great way to reach out into the top society and social brackets and how much they can use this platform to show their Christlike life.
    I have seen the rise and fall and fall of so many tennis players and I will never blame the WTA or any other organisation for that
    If Henin had the proper Christian upbringing, she would still be playing. She lived a unchristian life, married an unchristian husband and had an unchristian coach and obviously had an unchristian lifestyle, when she and all involved with her are merely Christians by name only!!!!
    What should be done is to meet and influence them that all their achievements and popularity is only by the grace of God almighty. For what did they earn if they are called to give up their life on earth now? Will their soul be saved if they are the best tennis player on earth?
    That’s the message I tell and guide sports people here through the “Sports for Christ” ministry.
    If you need any help from my side, please let me know.
    Stay blessed
    Jacob

  5. Gerry W said,

    Scotty, I met you and a couple of your excellent female players at Newport RI about three years ago and we were glad your were at that tournament. I know the Hall of Fame folks were not greeting you with open arms- but you were there anyway!

    A thought occured to me today as my family and I are vistiing the orphanage we built for 10 street children in Kerala, India.

    What was perhaps the most real church (body of believers) service held in the last 100 years which was not filled with metaphors, or making an audience feel good, but was filled with the most real personal hope our lives need.

    I think the answer was the service conducted on the stern of the ship Titanic as it was lifted high out of the dark night ice filled waters as tthe bow was submerged. Just think about being any one of the people that attended that service. Fame would not mean so much at that service, would it?

    Stand fast.

    Gerry in Boston.

    Keep on

    .

  6. Wow! I just found this site while looking for a team for my son to play on this spring. He’s a homeschool senior and he has longed to play on a team, but we have had no success. He plays in the Mississippi Valley Open every summer. Even at this small-time event, I feel somewhat belittled because he hasn’t played on a school team and we don’t eat, drink, and sleep tennis. But he’s a great player! He went into the second round of the tournament last summer both in single and in doubles. I realize the second round in the MVO is nothing to anyone who eats, drinks, and sleeps tennis, but we were very proud of him! As a Christian I’ve often struggled with not fitting in, because I seriously believe he could do more with tennis if he had the opportunity, but after reading some of the articles here, I guess I will continue to encourage Joshua to just keep tennis fun. Keep up the good work. Laurie


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