It’s now time for the Top 11 Most Memorable Off-Court Moments of 2011. This is a very tough category because there are so many great things to choose from. Luckily, if you don’t see one of your favorite moments here – there is another more prestigious category coming up. Or, just leave it in the comments section!
Honorable Mention – Elmo supports Andy Murray: It’s a bit surprising the Sesame Street character to wish Andy Murray good luck at Wimbledon wasn’t Oscar the Grouch. Kidding! This adorable video of the legendary Elmo brought a smile to my face, and Andy’s too.
11. Out Of Gas: After her 2nd-round win over Iveta Benesova in Cincinnati, Jelena Jankovic told reporters she barely made it to the match in time because her car ran out of gas on the way. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God. Great. I’ve got 20 minutes to my practice session. Luckily, the gas station was, like, two minutes walk. There were some players passing through and looking at us in the middle of the road like, ‘What is she doing up there?’ Pretty funny. It’s not how you begin the day, but how you end it.” It’s about the journey, not the destination.
10. Get Lost: Bojana Jovanovski traveled to Carlsbad for the Mercury Insurance Open in July. She arrived in Carlsbad, New Mexico to find – no one waiting for her. Her agent accidentally booked her flight to the WRONG Carlsbad (rather than Carlsbad, California) and Bojana had to sleep at the airport to await her flight and arrived just before her first-round match against Roberta Vinci. To make matters worse: She lost.
9. D’oh: If you’re a Twitter follower of Stan Wawrinka, you’re familiar with his love of a Homer Simpson figurine. Stan tweeted pictures all year of Homer on his journey around the world, much like the Travelocity roaming gnome. He explained: “It’s a joke with a friend from the beginning of the year in Chennai. I’m doing some picture for Twitter, and all the fan are asking about some more picture. So we’ll see how it’s going to be this year.”
8. Who’s your Caddy: In April, Andy Roddick was knocked from the number 1-ranked American spot and began looking for a stable fallback job. The Grand Slam champion and former world number 1 was a caddy for Zach Johnson during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Why? Andy loves golf and he’s friends with Johnson. I just hope it offers a good 401K.
7. Free Kendo: The ITF announced on July 29 the 12-month ban of American tennis player Robert Kendrick for taking a supplement to get over jet lag. The ITF agreed he did not ingest the supplement to enhance athletic performance and so Kendrick began his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In the meantime, the “Free Kendo” movement began, including a Facebook group and support from other Tour players, including Andy Murray.
6. Marion Bartoli Is A Genius: Reports surfaced out of Indian Wells that Marion Bartoli had an IQ of 175, higher than that of Albert Einstein. Nerd.
5. Novak Goes To Hollywood: Novak Djokovic took the 2011 season by storm – and then some. His rise in the rankings went hand-in-hand with his rise in fame, and the Serbian star began attending Hollywood happenings, like the Cannes Film Festival and the Twilight: Breaking Dawn movie premiere in London. Nole also made his acting debut with the likes of Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris in The Expendables 2. Next stop: The Oscars?
4. Japan: The earthquake-tsunami crisis in Japan brought the players together to help those in need. At Indian Wells, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka showed their support by holding up a Japanese flag with a supportive message prior to their match. In Miami, members of the ATP and WTA Tours walked in the stands to collect money for the cause. Numerous other fundraising events to show support and raise funds were held throughout the year.
3. Sporting Couples: Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Adam Scott (the sequel), Maria Sharapova and Sasha Vujacic, and Alexandr Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko – these sporting couples that cross tennis with golf, basketball and more, proved to us that there is such a thing as love. And even lovelier, Elena Dementieva got married. Gotta love love.
2. Andy Murray Gets Outnumbered: Andy Murray teamed up with the cast of Outnumbered for a special Red Nose Day sketch, which hilariously allowed Andy to poke fun – at himself!
1. Alisa Kleybanova: On July 15, Russian Alisa Kleybanova, who had just turned 22, announced via a letter on the WTA’s Web site, that she had been receiving treatment in Italy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The announcement shook the tennis world and fans and players flooded the WTA and Kleybanova with their support.
(Photos: Getty Images, Video: BBC)