Because tennis players don't have entire teams to help define their public identities, they must count on their individual appeal to be noticed by the public. "You are just sort of out there" and have to rely on appearance and personality as well as talent to make your mark, Wertheim says.
In the process, players such as Roddick and Blake have "made a very traditional, very old game new and exciting," Wertheim says.
If that means posing shirtless, Roddick is certainly up to the task. To be sure, he'll be well-rewarded for the effort. But, Wertheim says, Roddick's and Blake's enthusiasm is genuine. "They are young enough that they really do enjoy the game and lose themselves in the moment," he says. "The days of Bjorn Borg are gone, [and other players], who treat every victory and loss the same way. Fans like seeing their sports heroes showing their emotions."
Anyone for tennis?
What: The Mercantile Tennis Challenge features James Blake, Andy Roddick, Ashley Harkleroad and Maria Sharapova
Where: 1st Mariner Arena
When: Tonight at 7
Tickets: Call 410-481-SEAT or visit ticketmaster.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the 1st Mariner box office.