August 24, 2012

Serena Still Unapologetic About Outbursts: Asked by the New York Times about her on-court tantrums against a lineswoman and chair umpire at the U.S. Opens of 2009 and 2011, Serena Williams remains unapologetic. After being called for a foot fault, Williams told lineswoman Shino Tsurubuchi in 2009, "I swear to God I'll [bleeping] take this ball and shove it down your [bleeping] throat" and was immediately disqualified from the quarterfinal. Her take on the controversy today? "I don't foot-fault. Like, I have in the past, but this woman should never make a call in the semifinals of a Grand Slam on a person who doesn't foot-fault. She was totally wrong. I'm sorry. I'm not sorry. I looked at her like -- I tried to warn her. And then she did it again."

posted by rcade to tennis at 02:58 PM - 5 comments

The link goes to a summary of a memorable passage from the NYT piece, but why not just link the Sullivan essay itself? (I know it's linked in the article.) It's one of the more fascinating tennis essays I've read since David Foster Wallace's "Roger Federer as Religious Experience." In some ways, it reads like a sketch for a longer article or book, which I would read tomorrow, if I could.

Quibble aside, I've always been conflicted about this incident. I like Serena in so many ways, from her game to many parts of her persona. Her total destruction of Sharapova at the Olympics was some of the most complete tennis I've ever watched. She's an intriguing mix of candor and reserve off the court. She is, for lack of a better word, complex.

However. While part of me totally gets the objection to ticky-tack (and possible incorrect) footfault calls, she should have handled that better. Nothing that happens on the tennis court merits that kind of reaction. The only thing actually at stake was the size of a pile of money. And officials have an obligation to call them like they see them, regardless of the score, so Serena is effectively arguing that the lineswoman's job is to decide when and where the rules apply, not whether they've been broken.

I guess I'm really just (selfishly) saying that I wish she were sorry, because then I'd like her a little more, and in a way that's important to me.

posted by Uncle Toby at 03:28 PM on August 24, 2012

I've given up on liking Serena Williams. Anyone who could say that to an official and still not feel contrite two years later is a self-absorbed, entitled, petulant jerk.

All I'll give her credit for is being true to herself by not faking an apology.

posted by rcade at 05:35 PM on August 24, 2012

It amazes many of my American friends, when they travel, how much Serena (and Venus) are disliked outside the United States. Is it media homerism? Apart from the Williamses and Andy Roddick, there are bugger all Yanks at the top of world tennis these days.

posted by owlhouse at 03:44 AM on August 25, 2012

Wish there was a grum of tennis who could compile analytical data on brat matches showing whether or not these type of outbursts against match officials (dating back to, say, Connors, McEnroe, Nastase, etc.) have ever proven to result in any sort of competitive advantage. Do players who try to intimidate linesmen and umpires win more often than the more composed players?

As a kid growing up in the US, I remember the tennis-minded adults in my world not liking Laver much because his facial expressions suggested he wasn't enjoying himself on the court and didn't appear to be a pleasant individual.

They should have thrown appearances aside and been more grateful to have the opportunity to watch him play, as the gates of snotty attitude hell were about to open full wide all too soon thereafter. Laver's conduct was gilded and regal compared to what followed.

To this day, as I listen to McEnroe the TV commentator, even at his most incisive, well-moderated, and sublime, I can't avoid thinking about what an entitled asshole he was as a player. He played brilliantly and was involved in some totally epic matches, but having to suffer watching him come of age was a stiff price for the spectator to pay.

posted by beaverboard at 11:16 AM on August 25, 2012

Serena sounds like an a-hole to me. Is she really suggesting that because she doesn't typically foot fault, when she does, it shouldn't be called?, or if she does it in an important final it shouldn't be called. Maybe tennis should have a penalty called acting like a spoiled bitch.

Arguing with an official in a disrespectful manner should be cause for disqualification. Loosing it completely and actually threatening an official with physical violence should be grounds for suspension for a year if not life.

posted by Atheist at 05:32 PM on August 27, 2012

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.