Can’t beat Flushing Meadows for a great weekend of pro tennis.
The football season is revving up and the baseball season is heading down the stretch and the political maniacs are getting jumpy, summer must be leaving us. In a few weeks it will be fall and it is an election year and the mighty Manning brothers will be in command on their respective backfields while the Bronx Bombers warm up for the showdown with Texas by holding off the surging O’s and the devilish Rays and the Nationals, in defiance of the dead weight of federal tyranny, prepares Washington for a pennant for the first time in over half a century. It is a fine summer, and the tennis pros are doing their part with a superb display of fun and talent at Flushing Meadows in the great borough of Queens, N.Y.
Fun is a word you must use carefully in this context. Professional sports need a deep dose of fun to succeed: a perennial question of philosophy is whether this holds for life in general. What is certain is that the king and queen of world tennis, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, showed how fun and focus are compatible as they reigned in Arthur Ashe Stadium over the Labor Day weekend.
Miss Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 4th in the WTA ranking and 4th seed here, had no difficulty disposing of Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova (6-4, 6-0), and took care of another ova, the Czech star and world No. 12 Andrea Hlavackova, without allowing her a single game on Monday, a day of leisure celebrating hard work. Roger Federer, who lives in Basel (northwest Switzerland), maintained complete control of his match against Fernando Verdasco, who is hampered like all Spaniards by excessive reliance on a baseline game that works on their homeland’s red clay but is ill-suited for the hard (and faster) courts of the New World. On Monday Federer got a day off as Mardy Fish, of Los Angeles, had to withdraw for health reasons.
Federer meets Tomas Berdych in the quarters, the Czech, ranked 8th, crushed Sam Querrey and Nicolas Almagro on the way. In the quarters Miss Williams will meet Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, who rallied to beat the promising American teen Sloane Stephens in three sets last week and held off a rally by Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded 2nd, was stopped by Roberta Vinci on Monday night, as Andy Murray and Milos Raonic got into their fourth round match and Serena and Venus Williams lost to Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova in theirs. Murray won in straight, though arduous, sets, putting up with Raonic’s big serve and making use of brilliant play at the net. In any event, there is a consensus that regardless of the outcomes of the several draws, Serena Williams and Roger Federer are tennis’s queen and king.
The classic quality of a monarch is maturity; the characteristic of the prince is eagerness verging on impetuosity, of a princess, eagerness tempered by resignation. In some contexts, due to unwise fathers and mothers, princes and princesses are marked by silliness, selfishness, and carelessness, and while the JAP (Jewish American Princess) has become over the years something of a caricature of the type, it is scarcely a religious or racial trait, as we learn from Scott Fitzgerald and Jane Austen. But regardless of the individual’s young nature, it is impossible to be a respected queen while remaining a princess. It is impossible to be a great and good king while remaining a prince.
In I.1 of Henry V, the Archbishop of Canterbury expresses the change that turns the young playboy Prince Hal into King Henry:
The breath no sooner left his father’s body,
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seemed to die too; …
Never came reformation in a flood
With such a heady currance, scouring faults;…
We are blessed in the change, rejoins the bishop of Ely, who is worried sick by the fiscal policies of the late King Henry IV, that include heavy impositions on the Church, for the purpose of sustaining an expanded nobility (princes with feelings of entitlements). Fortunately,
The strawberry grows underneath the nettle, Ely observes when Canterbury assures him that the new monarch has forsaken
His companies unlettered, rude, and shallow,/His hours filled up with riots, banquets, sports… (he is referring to Hal’s carousing with Sir John Falstaff, the [somewhat] lovable rogue and con-man of the Henry IV plays.)
Canterbury puts in Henry’s ear the notion that under French inheritance law, he is the rightful lord of large tracts of France, indeed the French crown itself. The Church would be willing to finance a military build-up and intervention in France to enforce the law (and not incidentally render unnecessary Henry’s father’s tax proposals.) Henry is receptive, but he is also prudent. Be careful what you advise, he says, —
For God doth know how many now in health
Shall drop their blood in approbation
Of what your reverence shall incite us to do.
That passage struck me, shortly after 9/11, as I taught Shakespeare to high-school students. One of the Defense sec’s men was a Shakespeare scholar who expressed the commonly held view among the war hawks that the conquest of Iraq would be “a cakewalk.” I very much wanted to ask him if this was the mentality in the comfortable offices of Washington, D.C., where decisions were made to send our troops into those treacherous distant lands. I was myself in favor of going after our enemies — what else are you supposed to do, when criminals backed by thuggish regimes attack you? — but with what plans, with what aims, with what contingencies? I hoped our leaders were wise as well as bold — they had to be, if Shakespearean scholars were among them. But Mr. Tyrrell, despite his considerable clout in the circles of power, had not obtained for me the ambassadorship to Mali that I coveted — ambition, I know, and I, a Shakespeare reader if not a scholar, should have known better — and therefore I was not privy to the thinking in the high counsels of our Republic.
Therefore take heed how you impawn our person, [Henry
How you awake our sleeping sword of war.
Alas, that one came back to haunt me, as the years passed and several of “my” kids expressed the ambition of pursuing military careers. I could scarcely discourage them: I feared for them, but the calling is honorable; it showed they had gained something from school, and were putting themselves on a path that would be of great advantage to them, as well as to the country to which (in many cases) their parents had brought them to give them a better chance than they had.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?