Monday, September 14, 2009

Oh Serena...

Disclaimer: I really like Serena Williams. I don't care that she acts like a big baby after she loses matches, although I fully admit it, and I like the way she calls the media out on their bullshit.

So then she goes and does something like this Saturday night.

In brief, she got called on a foot fault (questionable) to make it match point. She acted a fool and got penalized a point, which caused her to lose the match. Serena was also fined $10,000 (and $500 for breaking her raquet earlier in the match), and now the powers that be are contemplating suspending her and/or taking away all her prize winnings for the year and/or the U.S. Open. There are a few points to consider since it's rarely as simple as all that.

1. She probably would have lost. Clijsters was beating her fair and square. Given #1,

2. The whole incident took away Clijsters awesome play and win in the semis.

3. The questionable foot fault. I'm of the opinion that the call was dubious, possibly correct (Serena admits she might have foot faulted), possibly incorrect, and uncalled for. Now I'm not a tennis expert, by any stretch of the imagination. However I do watch a fair bit of it. I've been known to wake up at 4 a.m. to catch portions of the Australian Open. (I do love my Rafa and Gonzo, although Rafa's new sleeve look and haircut are making him physically less appealing.) I've never heard foot faults called as much as they were at the U.S. Open, specifically against the Williams sisters. I have no idea if the Williams sisters are fudging the line, if the linespeople are anti-Williams, if the U.S. Open is attempting to be uber-fair, or if it's some kind of coincidence. I do know that there is a large portion of tennis watchers/players who believe foot faults should never be called, unless insanely bad, and they especially should not be called when it puts the game at match point. I tend to fall in the later category. I don't think all foot faults should be ignored (they're faults just like anything else), but I do think the line judges should err on the side of caution on a match point foot fault when it can't be challenged (replay). In baseball the umps give the runner the benefit of the doubt on too close to call cases. Why can't tennis officials have the same policies?

Of course never let it be said I'm not a hypocrit, because if I hated Serena, I'd probably be espousing "rules are rules." But, to be fair, I've never been a stickler for rules unless it involves a) A Rod (hate that douchebag) or b) steroids. I don't even like the false start rule in track. Shitty rule, imo.

4. The important stuff - the yelling. She flipped her lid, said something that resembled shoving the fucking tennis ball down the linesperson's fucking throat. And apparently holding her raquet (as tennis players are want to do) helped to make the whole thing some kind of crazy threatening showdown. Or whatever. So I saw her yell. I saw her walk over the linesperson and let flow a tirade of which I could only imagine the likes. And I can't say I wouldn't be completely terrified if Serena came at me screaming expletives and raquet all a-wonk. I would be absolutely, insanely scared for my life. Of course I would be acting completely ridiculously and everyone I know would make fun of me for being a wuss. I guess while technically shoving a tennis ball down one's thoat could kill a person, it seems a stretch to accuse one of attempted murder on the subject, no?

5. I know the whole argument about Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe used to do it, so everyone should be able to do it is a shitty argument. But isn't it true a little bit? Of course they have to decide at some point that outrageous behavior on the court is ridiculous, but is it at all suspect that they choose Serena to do it? Could be coincidence but if so, it's quite the coincidence. Every sport has different rules, but I can't imagine a baseball player being suspended for pointing the bat at the ump while he called him a "walking penis" or some such nonsense. Or an "abortion" as John McEnroe so famously put it. I might be wrong but even so, it wouldn't be much of a suspension, maybe a game or two. Nothing spectacular. Talking about banning Serena from all future grand slams is all about the ridiculous.

6. People are pissed because Serena hasn't apologized. As a non-apologizer myself, I can feel her pain. Plus she said she acted badly. Personally I don't see how an admission of bad behavior is any less than an apology. To me it seems more sincere. What difference does apologizing make if she doesn't admit she acted badly? If she talks about acting poorly or lacking good judgment but without the words "sorry" or "apologize" in the sentence, I don't think that makes anything any less sincere. And technically she's been fined the max for her actions, so why should she apologize? Isn't it a bit like double taxation? Like the time my car got towed for parking in a valet only spot and then when I picked it up I had a ticket too? All that said, a well-worded and somewhat heartfelt group of words can go a long way to making people fell like it's okay to be okay with said person again. For example, Djokovich (hope I spelled that right) acted an ass a couple of years ago when he played Roddick and I thought he was a dick. This year he said he was a bit up his own ass (or some such language) then and shouldn't have taken things so seriously. That isn't an apology either, but somehow he made nice with all the tennis fans because of it. Should we all still hate him because he didn't use the correct words? Or should we not care because he didn't "threaten" Roddick?

Long way to say: I'm torn on the whole Serena thing. Part of me is mad at the line judge for being a stickler, all the while admitting she had every right to be so, enthralled by Serena for daring to propose shoving a fucking ball down an official's fucking throat, and the pacifist part of me is slightly appalled by the violent display she vented on the linesperson. I don't want the rules to be enforced on Serena when they haven't been on anyone else, but I also don't believe that you don't get to be tougher just because you weren't in the past (i.e. Conners/McEnroe arguments). I'm all aflutter with conflicting thoughts and I feel wronged for Serena. I can't decide if I'm biased (because I like Serena and she's a woman) or if there's really something wrong with this picture.

I can say I would like for all the sports writers to stop being so holier-than-thou. As if they've never lost their cool before (assuming they played a sport or were/are competitive in some way) and done/said things they really shouldn't have. I have a friend who threatened to cut her boyfriend's head off once. She really meant to be funny and mention something along the lines of "I'll cut you," but she was pissed and it came out all wrong. I doubt she really meant to threaten him with decapitation.

Le sigh.

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