Sunday, September 27, 2009
Heart and Seoul: Kimiko Date Krumm, the Original Comeback Kid
Greetings tennis-crazed lunatics,
What next? Just when you thought it was safe to discuss something other than a comeback, a tennis dinosaur rises from the ashes like a Phoenix from the flame to vanquish two Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. And who said that the WTA is losing it's allure? It certainly wasn't me.
Kimiko Date Krumm, who once upon a time, during a two-year period in 1994 and 1995, went to the quarter finals or better in all four Grand Slams, has just won her first WTA title in 13 years, at the geriatric-by-WTA-standards age of 38.
While the milestone victory is astounding, it may not be enough to bring the legendary Billie Jean King out of retirement. Billie Jean King remains the oldest female player to ever capture a WTA title. Date Krumm turns 39 on Monday — She'll have to wait another 7 months and 24 days if she wants to wrestle that achievement from King's possession.
While most of the tennis media is focusing on the "back with a vengeance" Clijsters comeback and the "I'm not going to let another Belgian Woman outdo me" Henin comeback, we have relegated Date Krumm's refreshing return to the sport to the back burner — her results have been good but they haven't been good enough to make the Japanese legend a household name abroad.
But wins 286-289 of a career that has now spanned 20 years are finally getting the 5'4" trailblazer some well-deserved acclaim. The no. 155-ranked Kyoto-born Krumm, who gave a lot of credit to her race car-driving husband in her victory speech after defeating Anabel Medina Garrigues (6-3, 6-3) in the final, isn't ready to pull the plug after just one title either.
The former No. 4-ranked woman in the world thinks she's got a few more wins left in her. "I think I wont have any problem in my physical strength over the next five years," she said. "But I'm married...I have to have kids and I have a lot of things to do. I think I can play tennis for the next two years."
You go, Kimiko.
Krumm's comeback, which was originally announced (long before those Johny-come-lately Belgian girls) in April of 2008, probably had a large part in helping Kim Clijsters make up her mind about the comeback that she began after a 27-month absence this summer. While Krumm hasn't won a match in a Slam this year, she did nearly upset Caroline Wozniacki in the first round of Wimbledon. Her 8th career title, and first in 13 years, proves that she is getting better with experience.
And thanks to her exploits, and the dominoes that have fallen in the WTA as a result of them, we can talk about something other than who the "real No. 1 is." And if you happen to be, like me, getting up there in years, we've got a story that can help us realize that just because a player is half our age it doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is going to beat us, and it certainly doesn't mean that they are going to have more fun than us either, right?
Long live Kimiko, and long live the comeback!
Posted by Chris Oddo at 7:51 AM