In Defense of Serena Williams

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Serena Williams has had her hat handed to her by the press and the USTA over an unfortunate outburst she had during her U.S. Open semi-final match with Kim Clijsters. An overzealous lineswoman called an erroneous foot-fault against Serena at a very critical point in the game. It is extremely rare, if not unheard of, for a foot-fault to be called during such a critical point in a semi-final match. A video replay seemed to show that there was no actual foot-fault. Serena reportedly vented at the lineswoman by saying that she would like to “shove this fucking ball down your throat.” Serena’s words could not be heard on-air during the television broadcast but the lineswoman referred it to the chair umpire and Serena was assessed a penalty point for unsportsmanlike conduct that in conjunction with the previous foot-fault call would cost her the match. Serena subsequently apologized but was none-the-less fined $10,000.00 by the USTA and would continue to be hounded and questioned about it days later when she and her sister won the Women’s Doubles title. Yet very little attention was paid to Roger Federer, the reigning # 1 mens player, when he got into a heated exchange with the chair umpire during his championship match for the U.S. Open. During the exchange the chair umpire was heard over the microphone telling Roger Federer to be quiet and Federer was seen and heard quite clearly during the live broadcast, saying “Don’t tell me to be quiet, ok? When I want to talk I’ll talk, all right…I don’t give a shit what he said.” Federer was not assessed a penalty point or penalized in any way and the game was allowed to continue. The CBS commentator, Dick Enberg, seemed to reference Serena Williams while simultaneously trying to defend Federer’s outburst by saying that Roger’s comments were not “venomous.” But he was quickly rejoined by his co-commentator, Mary Carillo, who questioned incredulously “Not venomous?! He cursed!” But Carillo seemed to be the only one willing to take Federer to task and the entire matter was quickly dropped as the game continued. Federer would go on to lose the match to Juan Martin Del Potro and the press and the USTA would go on to largely ignore Federer’s earlier outburst. — Am I the only one to see a HUGE double standard here? Serena uses foul language at a lineswoman (that wasn’t even audible during the television broadcast) and she gets hounded for days by the press as well as being fined $10,000.00 by the USTA. But Roger Federer can curse out the chair umpire using foul language that was clearly heard and aired during a live television broadcast and yet no one in the press or the USTA is screaming for him to pay a fine or make a public apology. So a black woman cursing at a tennis official is BAD BAD BAD and worth a $10,000.00 fine. But a white man cursing at a tennis official is quite alright, no fine necessary, no apology needed? What’s up with that? Is that racist? Is that sexist? Or is it both?


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