According to Le Figaro magazine, the difference between the East and West in terms of women’s tennis has endured the “collapse of the Berlin Wall.” The latest issue of the magazine contains an analysis of physical characteristics of female players who are taking part in Roland Garros, the 2006 French Open.
As regards the Top Fifty list of the best female players as by the WTA rankings, the former Eastern bloc athletes hold 21 positions, while the Western players hold 22. The remaining positions are occupied by players from Asia, Australia and Latin America. The list may look slightly confusing due to Czech-born Martina Hingis (Switzerland), Russian-born Tatiana Golovin (France), and Belarusian-born Smashnova playing for Israel.
Two entirely different types of athletes represent two different schools of tennis. Female tennis players from the East European countries and Russia normally are tall and slender while their counterparts from the West are stocky and squat, according to Le Gigaro magazine.
The average height of female tennis players from the East is 175 cm; the average height of the Western female tennis players is 171 cm. The figures grow even higher with regard to the Russian players’ average height: 177 cm. “It’s small wonder that you can take Sharapova, Dementieva, Petrova and Safina for models gracing the alleys of Roland Garros,” says the magazine.
The “gorgeous Sharapova” (height 184 cm, weight 57 kg) is 10 cm taller and 11 kg heavier than Kim Clijsters from Belgium. Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova is 9 cm taller and 12 kg lighter than Amelie Mauresmo who plays for France. As regards Venus Williams, she is one centimeter taller than Sharapova, but her “excess” 16 kilograms (she weighs 73 kg) properly “compensate” for those 185 cm.
Nutritionists are not surprised at the above figures. Every year flocks of teenage female tennis players from East European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia ) gather in the French city of Tarbes to play on a tournament regarded an unofficial world cup for teenage tennis players. As far as their physical characteristics are concerned, the girls from the East stand out among the other participants. Some girls are 175 cm tall on an average.
The French magazine argues that the unusual physical development of female tennis players from Eastern Europe can explain to some extent their success at Roland Garros. The magazine points out that the Russians won the French Open in 2000, 2004, and 2005. The Yugoslavians won it in 2001.
In the meantime, the invasion of the “giants from the Eastern Europe” into the top players’ list should not be seen as something to worry about, Le Figaro magazine says reassuringly. Even if the Top Ten list has 4-5 Russian players, the Westerners almost invariably climb to the top of it: Davenport, Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters, Mauresmo. Maria Sharapova is the only exception to the rule – she was rated the best player for several weeks in 2005. These days Russia supplies new would-be female tennis stars at a high rate, though it is the West where those stars are usually made e.g. Sharapova is based in the U.S.; Kuznetsova in Spain; Golovin is either in the U.S. or France, the magazine says.
Translated by Guerman Grachev