What should I ask Martina Navratilova?

What should I ask Martina Navratilova?

The underhand serve: Do most pros consider its use “unethical, though legal”? If so, why? Why would its use be considered unethical or “amateur” even though a regular drop shot in the course of a rally isn’t considered unethical?

The “reverse slice” service, also known simply as the “reverse” – essentially a serve hit by a right-hander, though with slice or swerve akin to a slice by a lefty – is an unusual serve used in the pre-1930s occasionally, but has disappeared except as a novelty change-of-pace by a handful of players. It’s not a particularly difficult stroke, or wouldn’t be, for the scores of players who already use a semi-western grip for their forehands. I’ve heard conventional-thinking amateurs say that the reverse slice would only be an effective novelty shot rarely, but should never be a primary or secondary serve – because opponents would get used to it. That strikes me as a silly argument; after all, players see plenty of slice, kick, and flat serves, and apparently “don’t get used to them.” Any comment?

In the pre-Open Era days particularly, barnstorming pros often played indoors on slick wooden courts, obviously an ideal surface for a powerful server. The surface persisted in a diminishing number of venues into the 1980s. Did you ever play on that surface early in your career? Do you believe that a wood-surface tournament or two, obviously friendly to excellent serve-and-volleyers, would be a worthwhile addition to the contemporary ATP and WTA tours?

In the latter 1970s when the now-outlawed “spaghetti stringing” was used to great effect by some lower-ranked players to upset the likes of Nastase, Vilas, Stan Smith,and some others, in 1978 the ITF got into regulating not only strings but also rackets. This was a big change in the sport, when previously tennis players theoretically could use a racket of any length, strung in any pattern and with any kind of material, with no prohibition. (1) Did you ever try the spaghetti-string pattern? (2) Did you ever play against an opponent using spaghetti stringing? (3) Do you believe the ITF overregulates what is permissible in tennis string and racket technology?

[Thanks for considering any of the above.]


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