Australian Open Begins a Challenging Season in Tennis

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Ball kids during a practice session for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the tennis season. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

The 2018 Australian Open is not the ultimate tennis reunion it could have been.

Long-absent luminaries Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka and Kei Nishikori remain absent, and Murray will be out for at least several months more after hip surgery.

Other stars may join the list before getting the chance to play their opening-round matches in Melbourne, or perhaps even after they start their opening-round matches in Melbourne, and discover their bodies are not truly ready for the grind.

Even one of the key ceremonial figures is expected to skip the tennis festivities: Margaret Court, long retired but still in the headlines, says she will go crab fishing instead this year as the debate continues about whether the Australian Open’s third biggest show court should continue to bear her name.

Tennis, a game played on intersecting lines, is at a crossroads and not just in terms of how it responds to its latest surge in injuries.

There is the issue of its structure, which, with multiple governing bodies and no final arbiter, severely limits its ability to make calendar changes.

Source: The New York Times