Seems like a few superstars are not playing so super these days. So today's question is: What is the matter with . . .

Tiger Woods? Not long ago, Tiger was on top of the sports world. In a row, he won the four major tournaments in golf's Grand Slam -- The Masters, the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. In one stretch, Tiger won seven of 11 Grand Slam tournaments. No one, not even the great Jack Nicklaus, had ever done that before.

But Tiger, still No. 1 in the rankings, hasn't won a major title in two years. In fact, he really hasn't come close in the last couple of tournaments. These days, Tiger is spraying drives, missing putts and growling at photographers and reporters.

What happened? Well, golf is super-competitive. The difference between the champ and the pack can be a bad shot, an unlucky bounce or a putt that hangs on the lip of the cup. Tiger has slipped just a bit. But in golf, that's enough to turn even a Tiger into part of the pack.

The Williams Sisters? The only folks who won more than Tiger were the fabulous Williams sisters, Serena and Venus. They were Nos. 1 and 2 in women's tennis. And it seemed that every final in the Grand Slam events -- Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. opens -- was a family affair between the sisters.

Now, Venus and Serena have fallen to eighth and 10th in the world. Injuries have slowed the sisters. But they also seem distracted by other interests. Venus likes fashion and design. Serena seems to want to be a model and movie star more than a top-flight tennis player.

This week's Wimbledon should be perfect for the sisters' power games. But as Venus's loss yesterday shows, the Williamses are not a sure thing anymore.

Sidney Ponson? Okay, maybe Sir Sidney is not a superstar such as Tiger, Serena and Venus. But the Orioles signed the 27-year old right-hander to a big contract to be the ace of their pitching staff. After all, last year he won 17 games for the O's and San Francisco Giants.

Well, Sidney entered last night's game against the New York Yankees with a record of 3-9 and an earned run average of 6.49. Some ace.

It's tough for pro athletes when they go through hard times. But I think it's great for kids to see. It reminds kids that even the most gifted athletes don't win all the time. Anyone who plays sports, whether they are millionaire superstars or recreational-league beginners, can't expect the games to be an unbroken series of triumphs.

Kids forget that. They have a good season or even just a good game and think that they have a sport figured out. But that's not how its works. Sometimes the putts don't drop, the balls sail wide and every pitch you throw gets smacked for a hit.

Sometimes sports are a struggle. Even for the likes of Tiger, Serena, Venus and Sidney.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's Friday sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.

Tiger Woods

is not on par with major successes

of the past. Sidney

Ponson, right, is not equal to 2003.Venus Williams, right, and sister Serena seem to have more than tennis on their minds.