John McEnroe's recent call to have fewer tennis events for women has not been well received, with many describing his comments as sexist and another jab in the gender wars. But a look at the lists of the women missing from the US Open, and all the walking wounded at Flushing Meadows, suggests his recommendation may have some merit. "There should be less events for women," McEnroe said last week. "You need an actual meltdown on court or someone to quit the game altogether before they realise you need to change the schedule."
There was nothing sexist about what he said; instead it was genuine concern. Serena Williams is missing her first grand slam since Wimbledon 2006, while Justine Henin has been sidelined with a wrist injury. And many of the ranking players - including Kim Clijsters, the defending champion, Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed, and former winners Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova - are all carrying some injury concerns.
The field may be bruised, but there are still six grand slam singles champions in the fray for the women's title, yet the women's draw is being described as a casualty ward. The absence of Serena is the biggest cause of this gloomy description. But to understand McEnroe's concern, one has to look further and ask why Henin and Clijsters decided to retire before making their comebacks after a break from the game and what is the cause of Sharapova's struggles with injury. firstname.lastname@example.org