Three days ago, the WTA Tour kicked off a worldwide publicity campaign with the aggressive slogan, "A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do."
It's catchy and cool if only semi-original. But saying it and doing it are different matters and right now the big names on the women's tennis tour are not doing what they gotta do.
Women's tennis is in a slump that is being fed by injuries, a lack of depth and a disturbing paucity of competitive matches, and even an all-Williams final at Wimbledon, which begins its two-week run Monday, might not be enough to snap this tour out of the doldrums.
One year ago, almost the entire army of women's stars fought their way to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon -- Serena and Venus Williams, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport, and they engaged each other in a series of three-setters that ended with the high drama of Serena beating her wounded sister, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the final.
With the beginning of play Monday, there is no Henin-Hardenne, the No. 1 ranked player. She's got a viral infection that has been sapping her for two months. There is no No. 2 Clijsters, who has had wrist surgery and who may not be back on the court until the U.S. Open in August.
Davenport is here, but with a knee that hasn't fully recovered from the "tweak" she felt at the French Open. And no one is quite sure yet if French Open winner Anastasia Myskina is ready to join the elite or if she's a one-Grand Slam wonder.
Among the four best players in women's tennis -- Serena and Venus Williams, Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters -- they've played each other only once this year, when Henin-Hardenne defeated Clijsters in the final of the Australia Open in late January.
Meantime, the Williamses have had their own injuries. Serena, who didn't return from knee surgery until April, has been in only five tournaments. Venus, with a succession of minor problems, has played eight tournaments, but she hasn't had long enough pain-free stretches to get into top form, and the result has been upset losses at the Australian Open, Key Biscayne and the French.
Because of the injuries, the top players are not playing each other, and that has contributed to the malaise women's tennis finds itself in today. The Williams sisters haven't matched up since the 2003 Wimbledon final. Serena hasn't played Davenport since April of 2003. She hasn't faced Henin-Hardenne since the semifinals of last year's Wimbledon. She hasn't played Clijsters since the 2003 Key Biscayne. Nor has she been across the net from Amelie Mauresmo since last year's French Open.
Looking at the first six months of the year, it's hard to find more than three significantly exciting matches -- Capriati's wins over Serena at Rome and the French Open and Capriati's close loss to Mauresmo in the Rome final.
Three years ago, women's tennis was so hot a dozen news magazines, not all of them sports related, were writing about how it had overtaken the men's game. Those were the golden days of women's tennis with Venus Williams having won two straight Wimbledons and U.S. Opens, but with her sister on the verge of challenging her dominance.
And then there were the Belgians, Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters, who were streaking up the rankings. And Anna Kournikova, though she couldn't win a title, was driving interest in the game with her good looks.
What the WTA Tour needs out of Wimbledon is a strong showing by its marquee players as well as some surprises by players who have the potential to reach the elite group.
This is a new week for the top women on the WTA Tour to start doing what they gotta do.