It’s been long enough now to have had time to digest the Serena Williams complication at the U. S. Open.
It would have been too easy to join the knee-jerk reaction and finger pointing which travelled like a wildfire through the social media landscape.
So, what can we take away from all of this?
For starters, she did put a little more focus on the gender bias which exists in professional tennis. The double standard is a massive elephant straddling the net.
A female player removes her shirt, back turned to the spectators, and get’s a code violation. Several male players remove their shirt, stretch out on a courtside chair and get a bottle of water.
Serena herself gets a wrist-slap for wearing a cat suit. Apparently, it was to help with blood clots. The tennis fashion police however turned thumbs down on the suit. Can you just hear tennis talking heads discussing Roger Federer’s shorts or maybe his shirt?
So yes, there is a bias out there on centre court for all to see but it wasn’t in play when Serena let loose on the chair umpire.
I am not a lip reader, but I watched and watched the discussion the two had, one at a very high decibel level, the other, barely a whisper. At no time did I hear anything sexist or racist for that matter.
Now the call which started this downfall, a warning about coaching, was technically correct but likely a poor choice by Mr. Ramos. However, Serena claimed loudly her coach was not coaching, the expert panelists said they all coach and her coach even said he was coaching. She says she never saw him. You decide.
Now about that claim of standing up for women’s rights. This is not the first time Serena has gone off the deep end on an official. She’s not picky about who she blasts as some have been women as well. She told one she was ugly inside. Another was threatened with having a ball shoved down her throat. It wasn’t just any ball either. It was a F@#$ing ball to be more specific. Coincidentally, all these blow-ups happened during matches where Williams was losing.
I’m not really seeing the women’s right’s defence in those scenarios.
The motherhood aspect of her tirade is another puzzler. I don’t understand why she brought that up. The umpire didn’t come off as a child-hater. If she is so concerned about her child, then I believe her daughter should not follow mom’s example when she gets into difficult social situations.
Serena is correct about the gender bias when it comes to berating officials. The tennis world is full of men who have done far worse but very few of them paid the same price. That needs to change and everyone outside of tennis looking in can agree on that I feel.
But Serena, one of the richest black athletes on the planet and quite privileged I would suggest, had a chance to make more of an impact by speaking out after the match-not during it.
The saddest part of this was how she stole the pinnacle moment for Naomi Osaka in her young career. It was all about Serena and that is too bad. She is a leader for women’s tennis, unfortunately she showed very little leadership in this instance.
The spotlight on tennis is a bit brighter though because of this and may invoke some changes down the road. Just don’t change on the court if you’re a woman. At least not yet.