Tennis podcast featuring casual, semi-respectable conversations about the ATP & WTA.
Let Them Eat Cake: 2023 WTA Wrap
The 2023 season started and ended with Iga Swiatek as the player to beat, but it wasn’t a repeat of her utterly dominant 2022. A new elite separated itself from the field, as Sabalenka won her first Slam and achieved the #1 ranking, Coco Gauff won the US Open, Marketa Vondrousova shocked Wimbledon, and Rybakina scored three wins over Iga. Off the court, it was an unusually busy year in terms of WTA business news and rising player discontent over scheduling, finances, and plain respect. We’ll do a chronological recap of the season and talk about the overarching trends and biggest winners, followed by your contributions for the things that made you angry in 2023, the funniest moments, and what you’ll remember about the season.
01:20 Launching our 2024 Go Fund Me
09:35 The big winners of the 2023 season
16:10 Where was the WTA Tour at the start of 2023?
19:10 Recapping the season: Sabalenka’s Australian Open and the winter season
27:50 Clay was all about the “big 3,” but Muchova almost snatched
35:10 Vondrousova, the unexpected
43:15 The hardcourt summer made Coco Gauff a superstar
57:25 Superlatives, statistics, and picking the winners of the WTA Awards
01:09:35 Our 2023 breakout players: how’d we do?
01:12:10 WTA Business: CVC investment, safeguarding, WTA Finals bids, and testing the waters on Saudi investment
01:17:10 The moments you’ll remember from the 2023 season
01:21:50 The moments that made you mad: the Madrid disaster takes the cake
01:28:00 Your funniest moments of 2023: poor Kerrilyn
01:34:10 Retirements and comebacks
Novak and the Seven Jokers
The 2023 tennis season is barreling toward the finish line. First up: the Canadian women win their first ever BJK/Fed Cup behind huge performances by Leylah Fernandez, Marina Stakusic, and Gaby Dabrowski. Novak Djokovic distances himself even farther from the field by dominating Alcaraz and Sinner to win the ATP Finals. There was a ton of discussion about throwing a round robin match to remove the #1 player – and plenty of good reasons for and against – but in the end it was moot, as Jannik Sinner went undefeated in round robin only to be overpowered by Djokovic in the final. Elsewhere, it’s the end of Newport, Atlanta, Krejcikova-Siniakova, and Murray-Lendl (for the third time). Plus, that Defector story about Racquet and some self-reflection about where we’ve been and where we’d like the podcast to go.
01:30 Canada wins its first BJK Cup!
06:30 Novak is not bothered by the field. At all.
09:00 To tank or not to tank (Well, it’s actually a problem of design, not ethics)
17:50 The final: Novak outhits and outserves Sinner
28:00 Newport and Atlanta out
30:10 Rafa returning? Plus the era’s best doubles pairing is over
34:15 Defector story about the upheaval at Racquet
41:30 Some meta-reflection on where we are with the podcast
It’s hard to know where to start with the WTA Finals in Cancun, where the poor conditions and seemingly shoddy preparation overshadowed much of the actual play. The WTA is suffering a reputational crisis and a player rebellion, with players complaining publicly and demanding better conditions, scheduling, income, and leave policies. Amidst all this noise, Iga Swiatek stomps through the field and regains the #1 ranking. Elsewhere, Alexander Zverev was issued a penalty order in the domestic abuse case brought by his ex-partner Brenda Patea. Of special interest to us is the ATP’s continued mishandling of the Zverev problem and abuse allegations in general. In et ceteras, Patrick Mouratoglou “feels” responsible for Simona’s ban but stops short of saying he is responsible.
01:30 Novak wins Paris Masters and the gulf has hardly ever felt bigger
08:10 Iga Swiatek’s deeply impressive run in Cancun + the hellish conditions, natural and otherwise
17:10 The backdrop of the player frustrations: a letter of player demands and the WTA’s late response
28:20 The PTPA’s media blitz
30:00 Wrapping the WTA Finals chat with doubles
33:05 Zverev issued a penalty order for bodily harm against former partner and mother of his child
39:40 The ATP’s inaction: a timeline
50:15 Patrick, do you feel responsible or are you responsible?
Catching A Case
TBS 320 arrives as the tours (mercifully) make their final few stops of the season. We recap the results of the past week: Sinner, Auger-Aliassime, and Haddad Maia all score big wins for their respective careers. As you know, James is the resident tennis-player-catches-a-doping-case enthusiast (?) and he’s back to provide updates about Brooksby and Halep. There’s WTA Finals talk as well as a few things we’ve HAD IT with.
02:49 Jannik’s red wig isn’t budging
06:20 Felix says he’s back!
07:15 Haddad Maia doubles up in Zhuhai
12:47 In-depth look at Jenson Brooksby’s case of negligence
33:04 Serena catches a photo-cropping case
36:35 WTA Finals arrives in Cancun – we did it (barely)
43:49 We’ve HAD IT
Admittedly, this hasn’t been our most productive October ever, but we’re here! First, we’re recapping two weeks of results, including a 12th title for Monfils, a first for Shelton, Mertens remaining the only ever winner of Monastir, and Zheng Qinwen triumphing shortly after coach Fissette dipped. Also: Holger Rune hires Boris Becker, recently released from prison and deported from the UK; the Cincinnati Masters will stay put; Craig Tiley promises something he can’t promise; and Naomi sells her likeness to Mark Zuckerberg. And what’s the deal with the lack of women on Tennis Channel and the WTA Board and Tournament Council?
0:30 Autumn fatigue, for players and podcasters alike
4:00 Monfils, Shelton, Fils, and Townsend make it a fantastic weekend for Black players
11:15 WTA results: Mertens, Siniakova, Korpatsch; Zheng wins Zhengzhou, Peggy wins one for mom
20:10 WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai gets underway with a stellar field
23:55 Holger Rune hires Boris Becker
26:55 Zumba instructor Garbiñe Muguruza isn’t thinking about tennis
31:15 Cincinnati will stay in Cincinnati after getting Ohio to put up enough taxpayer money
35:25 Craig Tiley announces Rafa Nadal’s appearance at the Aus Open and no one is more surprised than Rafa
44:10 Naomi Osaka and Candle Gender sell their likenesses to Meta
47:20 Diana Nyad changes her mind on trans inclusion (it relates to tennis, I swear)
55:35 Where are all the women on the WTA Board and the Tournament Council?
Tennis returns to China after four years away, as Iga Swiatek reminds us who's boss and Jannik Sinner takes a huge step forward by beating Alcaraz and Medvedev for the Beijing title. Meanwhile, the Cancun organizers are building their Field of Dreams in less than a month and several top players are already bowing out of BJK Cup. We also cover the growing chorus of abuse survivors who are taking aim at the USTA, and why this is far from the last time we'll hear about it. Plus, a few diversions about Zheng, "athleticism," Safarova's extremely brief non-return, and how tennis babies its players when it comes to endangering the people who work on court.
1:05 WTA returns to China with none of what it demanded
7:00 Iga sets things straight with Beijing title
12:25 Jannik Sinner gets his first Meddy win by using a tactic that’s becoming more common …
18:35 WTA Finals in Cancun: stadium is loading ... (currently at 1%)
27:15 Can you ever forgive me? Qinwen says definitely not
33:30 It’s not only about trans people’s participation in sports and it never was
38:30 Tennis is very unserious about hitting staff with flying objects
42:40 USTA legal team under fire for how they’ve handled sex abuse cases
54:30 Lucie Safarova’s very brief return to tennis
56:25 We saw Stevie Nicks!
The Right Stuff
James & Jonathan are well worth your time. There are so many tennis podcasts out there nowadays, but The Body Serve offers a unique blend of tennis and cultural critique. If you like your tennis with a side of humor, history, and social commentary, then this show is for you.
Best tennis podcast!
Discovered this pod via No Challenges Remaining & am loving the entire archive. These 2 guys are highly intelligent & funny. Articulate, always interesting & have loads of salty opinions. THE BEST in tennis.
Always makes me laugh!
I love this podcast because it always makes me laugh and entertains me. However, it also brings something serious to the table: a nuanced social commentary that goes far beyond what most sports podcast give you. Keep up the good work!