Remember tennis? Sure you do. Headbands, tight shirts, tighter shorts ... ring a bell? It had a glorious run in the late '70s and early '80s, with Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors providing relentless back-page fireworks and the Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova rivalry single-handedly bringing women's sport to the fore. (Well, double-handedly, in the case of Evert's backhand.) It kept momentum through the '90s with the men's all-time Grand Slam champion, Pete Sampras, and the fellow Americans, among others, who chased him -- the chameleon-like Andre Agassi, the intense Jim Courier, the grinding Michael Chang -- while Steffi Graf dominated the women's game as few athletes have in any sport after poor Monica Seles was stabbed by a deranged Graf fan. An ever-compelling soap opera, tennis was big-time stuff. And now? To some, it seems emblematic that Borg considered selling his five Wimbledon trophies in an attempt to stabilize his finances. The next great American star, Andy Roddick, has gone from The Contender to The Apprentice; his confidence has shattered as his opponents have figured out to how to return his cannonball serve. Niggling injuries appear to be moving Lindsay Davenport closer to the end of a good but vaguely unsatisfying career. The Williams sisters seem to have grown apathetic to the sport and gone on to other priorities. Go to ESPN.com or SI.com and tennis isn't even on the main topic bar; it now falls under the "more" dropdown menu on both, lumped in with the likes of figure skating, horse racing and boxing. Where have you gone, Johnny McEnroe? Actually, McEnroe, 47, won an ATP doubles title in San Jose, Calif., in February -- one of several remarkable recent stories that would have the sports world buzzing but for what appears to be tennis' faulty stateside press machine.
Martina Navratilova won her 175th career WTA Tour doubles title last year at age 48. Former world No. 1 Martina Hingis has returned from a three-year retirement to zoom back up the rankings and make the quarterfinals of the year's first major, the Australian Open. The fiery young Russian beauty, Maria Sharapova, has become the world's most recognizable and highest-paid female athlete. Two feisty, undersized Belgians, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, have proved that athleticism can still trump raw power, prognosticators to the contrary be damned.