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Sports: Talking Wimbledon Match-Ups


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.


SIMON: And Wimbledon is underway, the world's oldest, most esteemed, greenest and strawberries and creamiest tennis tournament. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic seem set on the collision course for a semifinal. Maria Sharapova on course for a potential showdown with Kim Clijsters. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com, ESPN the magazine, and ESPN the full grain, fibrous and nutritious snack cracker on the line from the All England Club.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: How are you?

SIMON: I am fine, thank you. Six Americans are playing today. And look. And...

BRYANT: Oh, my. Make that five.

SIMON: Oh, what happened?

BRYANT: Varvara Lepchenko was blown off of the court by Petra Kvitova. So therefore we have Serena Williams, who's fighting for her life. She's down a set on Centre Court. And then we've got Brian Baker in the men, Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick still alive. So we have five Americans still going, but we lost one today.

SIMON: And...

BRYANT: (Unintelligible) Kvitova, the reigning champ, crushed Varvara Lepchenko.

SIMON: On behalf of all the Brits on staff and listening over there, Andy Murray, has he still got a racket in his hand?

BRYANT: Andy Murray is on Centre Court, and all the guys in the press room, of course, are wondering if Andy's going to help us out and take care of business early so we can all go have dinner. Otherwise, it's going to be three nights in a row of very, very long arduous tennis writing. After Rafael Nadal got beat on Centre Court late and Roger Federer came back from a two-set deficit and almost lost as well.

This place has gone upside down. This is supposed to be the easy part of the tournament, Scott, and all of a sudden everybody's fighting for their lives early.

SIMON: Let's just forestall some emails. You're not complaining about being sent to cover Wimbledon now, are you?

BRYANT: For a very first world problem and I am not complaining at all. This is a terrific, terrific tournament. It's great. It just always makes me laugh when we make it sound like we're busting rocks on the chain gang here. This is the best job in the world. Are you kidding me?

SIMON: All right. OK. There is an issue of equal pay at Wimbledon, I gather.

BRYANT: Well, there is. And there's - and not anymore. The ITF - the International Tennis Federation - has finally agreed to be in line with the rest of the three grand slams that the pay is going to be equal for men and for women.

And of course quietly the men don't like this. The men are very upset about this because it is the men's game right now that is considered to be more popular and that is driving revenues. And one member of the Player Council, Gilles Simon, number 12 in the world - actually number 13 in the world - came out and said that he doesn't like it. And came out and said that he thinks that the women's game is less interesting than the men, the men are driving things and doesn't think that they should have equal pay.

And it created a bit of a firestorm here for the first week, and rightfully so. However, I still feel that when you buy a ticket to come in here, you're getting men's tennis, you're watching women's tennis and it's a terrific, terrific environment and there's no reason why the pay shouldn't be equal.

SIMON: Let's talk about Olympic trials for a moment. Showdown between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, whom the New York Times calls them the Ali and Frazier of swimming.


BRYANT: I don't know how they get along, because Ali and Frazier did not like each other. But it's going to be a terrific event between those two. Lochte beat him twice, Phelps has beaten him once already during the trials. And we're all - I'm not coming back here, but it's going to be here in London for the Olympics. And Michael Phelps was the showstopper last time and he's the guy everyone's looking at.

And I think that it's going to be a lot of fun for anybody who's going to take a look at the Olympics because it's these types of rivalries that really, really drive the competition. It's going to be a lot of fun.

SIMON: And in the seconds we have left. U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has recommended filing formal charges against Lance Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong says he's innocent. What's the significance of this?

BRYANT: Huge significance because the federal government, after striking to on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, they dropped their case against Lance Armstrong. But U.S. Anti-Doping is going after him. And the significance of this is that even though the federal government has decided not to go after him, Lance Armstrong could lose all of his medals and he could have them stripped. And that would be a very, very big happening for someone who's such an inspiration if he turns out to have been dirty.

SIMON: Howard Bryant speaking from Wimbledon. Thanks so much.

BRYANT: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.