Jelena Ostapenko is just what tennis needs: A completely dislikable player

Ostapenko's latest attitude issue happened against Victoria Azarenka.

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Tennis might have been at its most popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. A big reason for this was that we got to see some of the players be themselves on the court. Tennis fans did not always care for John McEnroe, of course, but the high drama of watching McEnroe play and argue and overreact certainly stirred emotions in fans and his antics were noticed even by those who did not follow the sport.

Of course. McEnroe backed up his brattish behavior with fantastic tennis. He looked like a jerk many times, but he played the sport beautifully, won seven Grand Slams, and reached No. 1. The New Yorker has since become one of the best commentators of the sport, and part of his appeal is how he carried himself when he played. He was a bit of a bad boy and tennis needs that.

Jelena Ostapenko appears to be trying to fill the void of tennis brats. She argues line calls with full vociferousness, argues with judges, insults them, and even debates with her opponents at times. This week, after losing a match to Victoria Azarenka at the Qatar Open 0-6 3-6, and as both players walked to the net to do the post-match meet, Azarenka had pointed to her head as if to say she was in Ostapenko's head, Ostapenko refused to shake hands.

Jelena Ostapenko deserves the dislike but she just needs to win more

Instead, the Latvian stuck out her racket in possible hopes of having Azarenka tip her racket with Ostapenko's. But clearly, Ostapenko wanted nothing to do with shaking Azarenka's hand. It was a clear lack of sportsmanship and something tennis fans have gotten used to with Ostapenko.

Of course, what might help get some fans on her side is if the Latvian actually won a high-end tournament ever. At least then we could appreciate her tennis brilliance while her behavior drives us insane. Instead, we are left with a player who is 26 years old and plays with the mentality of a 6-year-old.

Still, she might be good for tennis as fans would have a player to actively root against in major tournaments. Ostapenko just needs to help the sport out by winning something other than a tournament such as the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. She did win the French Open but that was in 2017 and since 2018, she has only made the quarterfinals at two Grand Slams.

With her boorish antics, she is an extremely unlikable player. Tennis needs more of that. But to truly be one of the great hates, she needs to play better.

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