SINGAPORE - WTA Legends Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters watched the 2018 season’s biggest matches from the commentary booth, and both admitted to getting emotional more than once at seeing several players capture their first major titles.
“I'm a crier in the booth,” Davenport said during a WTA Legends panel at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, one that also featured Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles. “Three times this year - when Wozniacki won, when Halep won, and Osaka won - I couldn't speak because I was crying.”
Three of the year’s four Grand Slam tournaments went to maiden major champions, with Caroline Wozniacki lifting the Daphne Akhurst Trophy at the Australian Open, Simona Halep capturing the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros in her fourth major final appearance, and Naomi Osaka shocking Serena Williams to win the US Open.
“To me, I love players winning their first major,” Davenport continued. “It's what every single player grows up dreaming to do. It could be a different one for every player, but that's what you dream about when you're out there hitting balls at six, eight, ten or whatever: it's winning a Grand Slam.
“All three of those stories, to me, were phenomenal this year, and how hard Wozniacki fought the whole Australian Open, everything Halep went through to finally raise the trophy in Paris, even just what Naomi had to go through in the final, all of that.”
Clijsters echoed Davenport’s sentiment, recalling messages she sent to Wozniacki after her triumph in Melbourne.
“I'm the same! I'm a crier. I remember, at the Australian Open when Caroline won, I was actually cooking. I stopped everything and just cried. I sent her a message and just to show how happy I was for her.”
Halep’s three-set victory over Sloane Stephens was equally poignant for the Belgian, who lost her first four Grand Slam finals before coming good in her fifth opportunity at the 2005 US Open.
“With Simona, I was there actually doing commentary. I had talked to her a little bit already in the past when she lost her finals, because kind of we could relate through a few moments like that.”
Clijsters, went on to win four major titles, and joined the BBC commentary booth for the Wimbledon Championships, noting the stark differences one notices from such a unique vantage point.
“I had a moment at the Australian Open last year where you sit on center court, and I was able to see some of the players' body language when they turn around, as an opponent that you don't see as a player. I was, like, ‘This would have been really helpful if I saw some of these moments,’ you know, if you're standing on the opposite side of the court of these players.
“It was nice to pick up a few things here and there that you don't expect from a player, players who you think are cold or not influenced by certain moments, and you actually saw them be a little bit negative or at times talking to themselves. Those are things that I have enjoyed about commentating.
“I have sat next to Lindsay and listened to her commentate. I love it. I enjoy listening to the past players who have been there actually and who know what it's like to be under pressure and that it's not that easy to sit in the commentating booth and say, ‘Oh, they should have done this or they should have done that.’ It's not that easy. I like listening to the past players who have actually been there.”