Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The men put petulant brat Serena Williams to shame

Serena Williams: dignity – at all times, dignity. I caught the pundits pontificating about the US Open Women’s Final on Sky two nights ago, just before it started. There they were, Greg Rusedski, Annabelle Croft and Boris Becker (who claims not to have had a facelift, so he must have taken up bare-knuckle boxing) telling us that the only real issue was how badly Aussie Sam Stosur (who had never won a slam) would get her butt kicked by Serena Williams (who had won thirteen).

As I tend only to watch women’s tennis when at least one of the players is particularly physically attractive – or has a very winning personality – I tuned away at that point. When I checked back a little later, Williams – astonishingly - was on the verge of losing the first set. So, because Sam Stosur seems to be a nice, straightforward Aussie, and because neither woman emits blood-curdling shrieks as they hit the hall, I decided to watch for a bit  – at least until the inevitable point when Stosur’s nerve would break and her opponent would effortlessly reel off eight games in a row. 

At the end of the first game of the second set, Williams, facing a break point, hit what looked like a winner, but spoiled it by shouting “Come on!” before her opponent had time to play the ball. This struck me as an outrageously unsporting thing to do. The umpire awarded the point - and therefore the game - to Stosur.

We were then treated to a rebarbative display of the sort of graceless, petulant behaviour one would expect from a prostitute whose john has been appropriated by another ho rather than from the most successful female tennis player of the last decade. “Don’t look at me!” Williams ordered the umpire. “You’re a hater! You’re unattractive inside!” She then delivered what to Serena no doubt constitutes the ultimate put-down by calling the official a loser. Williams didn’t actually scream obscenities as she did at a lineswoman during a match at the same tournament two years previously – which earned her a large fine and a suspended two-year ban at the time - and the need to play some more tennis lucky brought a halt to her recriminations before they reached the “Your Mama ain’t nuffin’ but a hooker, bitch!” level.

At the end of the match – which she lost in two swift sets – Williams pointedly refused to shake the umpire’s hand. Afterwards, no doubt realising she might be in trouble, she did a lot of sucky-up, girlie smiling and chatting to her victorious opponent, but declined the opportunity to apologise for her horrible behaviour when interviewed. (She did, however, milk as much sympathy as she could out of the fact that she’s been out of tennis for a while with debilitating physical problems.)

Williams’s behaviour seemed particularly jarring on a day when Americans of all colours and backgrounds had behaved with the most exemplary dignity in commemorating 9/11. The television coverage of the relatives of those who died that day reading out the names of victims they hadn’t known before ending with, for instance, “and my father…”, before adding “Miss you, Dad”, was heart-rending. It’s hard to sneer at the American penchant for sentimentality when there are tears streaming down your own face.  

The tennis authorities – who should obviously have banned Serena Williams from next year’s US Open for her dreadful behaviour – have fined her $2000. I bet that’ll make her think twice next time! (At least her disgraceful 2009 outburst earned her a $175,000 fine.) The truth is that American tennis is in such dire straits that it can’t afford to be without one of its few stars. Serena’s sister Venus is too old, Andy Roddick is on the downward slope, Mardy Fish’s Indian Summer can’t last much longer, and John Isner isn’t really much more than a huge serve. And the women’s game in general is in a pitiful condition, with a succession of second rate No. 1 players who can’t win slams. That’s the only reason old Big Bum got away with it.

Neither of the women finalists managed to refer to the 9/11 ceremonies taking place that day in the same city. By contrast, both the men’s finalists  took the opportunity during their post-match court-side interviews to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11 and their families. 

Class acts, both of them. Their families, friends and countries should feel immensely proud to have produced two such fine young men.


  1. Serena Williams is a petulant brat. It is sad that our society incorrectly puts her on a pedestal, given her numerous disgraceful outbursts that show her true personality.

    1. I don't know where you're from, Anonymous - but I suspect the only society that puts her on a pedestal is America's. Here in the UK, she's never been popular, which upsets BBC commentator John McEnroe, who reckons we should be more reverential towards her because of her challenging background - but that's never going to happen while she remains so unremittingly graceless.