I have enormous respect for Serena Williams as an athlete. I admire her talent, her discipline, her long run at the top of women’s professional tennis, her fight to return after the birth of her daughter and at the age of 36 — an age when most professional athletes of either gender are moving into retirement. I wanted her to win the women’s U.S. Open final on Saturday.

I hate it when she loses her composure on the court and erupts.

She did yesterday, when she fell behind playing against a much younger but talented player, Naomi Osaka. And it was ugly.

Serena desperately wants that one more majors win, the one that would tie her with Margaret Court. I get that. This U.S. Open was a terrific chance, with many of the top players sidelined early. Osaka is young; all the odds were against her defeating Serena two outings in a row. I do think Serena was provoked and overly penalized by an officious chair umpire. My hope is that this chair umpire would never again call a women’s match. But Osaka was the clear winner.

Serena was gracious later in congratulating the younger player and champion, making it clear that her fight was not against her opponent. But the spectacle of Serena erupting on the court remains.

10 thoughts on “Serena

  1. And her true colors come out. Once again. Which is why I can’t respect Serena. She ruined the victory for Osaka who could barely smile. She stole the victory from her. Thief. Hmm…..

  2. for Ellen: I don’t think Serena’s anger defines her any more than it does any of us. Billie Jean King just weighed in on Serena’s side, which I’m happy to see. I think Serena has brought us extraordinary tennis for a lot of years. Unfortunately, because of her age, I think her performance will be up and down. But I still hope she gets that one more majors win.

  3. for Ben: I am a huge fan of Martina, as a player and as a human being. She was one of the very early professional women athletes out as gay, and it cost her a lot in endorsements. She certainly knows, like Serena, what it means to be a minority on the court. I read her piece carefully, and agree with much. Here’s where I question: it NEVER seems like the right time to express righteous anger over mistreatment. I say that even though I was troubled by Serena’s blowup on the court. If she had waited until her anger cooled, and given a measured repudiation of the chair umpire’s bias, no one would have paid one bit of attention.

  4. I didn’t actually watch the match, but have seen the replays on the news. It has a lot of people talking. Do the men get this publicity when they berate a ref or go off? Isn’t there a male tennis star famous for mouthing off and throwing his racket in a tantrum?

  5. for J: John McEnroe regularly broke racquets, raged at umpires, and used foul language on the court. And no, he wasn’t penalized the way Serena is.

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