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Wild card entry

A wild card entry to any major tournament is akin to a lottery prize. There are only eight up for grabs, and organizers are, with reason, typically thorough with their assessment on possible recipients. Which, for all intents, is why as many shakes of the head as nods have met the decision of Tennis Australia to award one to Venus Williams. Worthiness is such a subjective criterion that factors involved in its consideration can and do differ vastly depending on perspective.

To be sure, Williams deservers no small measure of recognition for her contributions to the sport. There can be no discounting the extent of her success since she turned professional 28 years ago. And while she cannot count a singles title Down Under among her Grand Slam triumphs, she does boast of five doubles championships at Melbourne Park. Add to this the fact that her resurgence half a decade ago featured a run to the final in the Australian Open, and it’s easy to see why officials of the tournament have been only too willing to spread the welcome mat for her.

That said, there is the flipside, predicated on Williams’ inability to mount any challenge regardless of opponent. Frankly, she hasn’t been close to competitive since the turn of the decade, managing to claim victories in just two matches. Given her poor record in recent memory, and it’s fair to figure that she will once again be one and done in the first major stop of 2023. Little wonder, then, that not a few quarters believe the wild card given her will be put to better use by countless other players.

The discretion is, of course, Tennis Australia’s, and it clearly valued Williams’ gravitas as an ambassador to the point of welcoming her with open arms. It may be too much to expect her to stay around until the second week, but, hey, no one can say she isn’t trying. She has always left everything on the court, and she always will.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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