Breckenridge/Devon O’Neil: Two ladies who know when to say when
May 20, 2008
True, men don’t have to think about when they are going to give birth and whether they’ll have enough time to breast feed when they do. And perhaps male professional athletes are a little more driven by pride than their female counterparts.
But it was nonetheless refreshing to see Justine Henin and Annika Sorenstam, two of the premier female athletes of their time, announce their retirements within a day of each other last week, each still plenty talented to compete on her respective sport’s highest level, but each ready to move into another realm, perhaps start a family, settle down, live a normal person’s life.
Henin was ranked No. 1 in the women’s tennis world when she called it quits, effective immediately, at age 25. She won 10 WTA tournaments last year, including two majors, and took home $5 million. During her brief career there were few who could match her talent on clay, in particular.
Still, Henin struggled mightily this year, despite holding onto the top ranking. Sorenstam, too, is not the same unbeatable golfer whose dominance evoked comparisons to Tiger Woods on many an occasion, including from an awestruck Woods himself.
The 37-year-old Sorenstam announced her retirement two days after winning her 72nd career LPGA tournament (third all time) and two years after winning her eighth player of the year trophy. She made $22.1 million in her playing career, not including endorsements.
Henin, meanwhile, won about $20 million in her career, certainly enough to live on forever, but not enough to sate so many proud, male athletes with similar means who have hung on for years thereafter, unable to explore what the rest of life holds.
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According to espn.com, here is what Henin honorably told her agent: “I’ve won everything I need to win, I have more money than I can use in three lifetimes, and I don’t have the will to play one day more.” …
Oh, but the Penguins do. Considering Pittsburgh had either the first or second overall pick in the NHL draft four straight years from 2003-2006, you’d expect the club to start winning. But to make the Cup finals so quickly has been something special. …
Hard to decide which is the best commercial on TV right now: the Gatorade ad where the little kid on a BMX bike roars through the stunned peleton, with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen going nuts as voice-overs; or the Geico bit where the lizard keeps getting hit in the face by the water fountain, just like it happens in real life. Hilarious, both. …
Giro d’Italia update: Quick Step’s Giovanni Visconti leads after nine stages of the three-week race, and only one rider in the field of 179 is within five minutes of his overall time. Visconti, of Turin, is attempting to return the Giro title to northern Italy after Danilo Di Luca became the rare southern Italian to win the 21-stage event last June.
Di Luca stands in fourth place this year (7:27 back), one of a whopping seven Italians in the current top 10. Other notable GC contenders: 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (eighth, 7:56 back), Andreas Kloeden (15th, 8:39), Christian Vandevelde (20th, 9:13), Levi Leipheimer (22nd, 9:14), Denis Menchov (23rd, 9:16). …
Stat of the Week: The World Anti-Doping Agency has spent $1.3 million helping to fight Floyd Landis’ contention that he did nothing wrong in the 2006 Tour de France. …
There are also some otherworldly stats in the baseball world right now, enough to fill this whole column in a different week. Most notably, Lance Berkman is on pace to challenge for the Triple Crown; he’s hitting .399 (second in MLB to Chipper Jones’ .410) with a league-leading 16 homers and 44 RBIs. He also leads the majors in runs with 48, 11 more than the next guy, and is slugging a remarkable .804. …
Uh-oh time in the Bronx: Only two teams in the American League have a worse record than the Yankees (20-24). …
Time to watch in Belmont: Big Brown, a horse so dominant nobody knows if it’s him or the (weak) field of 3-year-olds, goes for the first Triple Crown since 1978 on June 7. …
In parting, some people think Manny Ramirez is lost in space, like Encino Man. Me? I think he is the funniest man on Planet Earth, no exaggeration.
” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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