So a couple of days ago I read something a guy named Couch wrote. The premise of his piece was that Serena Williams should “do more.” In his mind she’s not fit and not committed tennis. So I wrote a response that’s pretty much going to get buried amongst the barrage of livid racist who can’t stand somebody Black playing tennis anyway let alone somebody they can villianize because she has the unmitigated gall to be confident.
Pam Shriver is quoted in a piece for the LA times this week where she says the obvious. The French Open has been repeatedly miserable to Serena. And the speculation is that maybe it’s not racist since the French have Gael Monfils and maybe it’s not anit-American since they love Roddick. But A) Gael is a a FRENCH Black person and they’ll root for anybody that can put France on the map for tennis. B) Roddick is a (white) man. Case closed on that one. In fact the ONLY person being heckled with nasty comments and repeatedly having officials ignore blatant cheating is Serena.What I wrote in response is below…
Serena’s not fit? Compared to whom? Look, Couch, I don’t know you; I’ve never read anything you’ve written, but the story title caught my eye. So I don’t know if you’re a former tennis pro, a sports writer in general or just some dude who got a job at a website and assigned to this part of the site. But I’ve been watching women’s tennis since 1999, and even I feel I can make a better assessment of what’s going on than you.
Waaaaayyy back a year and a half ago I wrote a piece about the slump BOTH Williams were going through and either on my own blog or in a comment I made on somebody else’s blog I predicted they were probably on a downward spiral.
But NOT for the reasons you’ve indicated; fitness and commitment. That’s absurd. I mean have you really listened to what you’ve said? Serena’s strength is so apparent that she does not even LOOK like a tennis player. The irony is that I thought she looked about 10 pounds lighter than I’m used to seeing her for the French open. But the Williams in general are SO fit no American can even compete anymore. It took a flood of Eastern Europeans, people coming from poor parts of Europe, to be able to be able to match the physicality of the Williams. The French had to go back to the drawing board (Mauresmo) and the Belgian just dropped out (Clijsters) and one by one the other Americans have receding into obscurity.
My belief for the REAL reason for the Serena (and Venus) slump is not about commitment so much as it is about home life. When their parents got divorced and their sister got killed that broke their momentum, and they haven’t recovered. Richard (their father for those of you not up to speed) pretty much handed over coaching duties and their mother took over for a while. He wasn’t even at games as often. And I just think it’s a case of diminishing returns unless something drastic changes.
As for this issue of sponsorship money. Well let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a Black issue. Case closed. No need to harp on it. But the guy you interviewed, Bob Williams, ironically located here in FANTASTICALLY racist Chicago saying 50 percent of endorsement deals go to Black people should be corrected to “men athletes.” Yeah, Black GUYS make a lot of dough in “traditionally Black player dominated” sports. There is no Black man making a killing in hockey. So the Serena is fighting two uphill battles; women not making as much as men, and being the “wrong” race for her sport. The ad agencies are essentially not in a mood to sell Black Barbies to little white girls not when they’ve got an IDEAL candidate in Sharapova WHO ONLY WON A FEW slams compared to Serena. Because that was the other argument right? “Serena doesn’t win enough” Ha! In addition, sponsorship deals are not necessarily tied to winning as much as DRAW. The Williams have drawn more viewers to TV, more worldwide fans to the game and sold more tennis seats than anybody in the last 10 years. FACT.
I’m also noticing a lot of people talking about how “arrogant” Serena is. How she’s needs to “do it, not say it.” Well, all you fat ass people sitting at your computer’s look ridiculous. Have any of YOU ever won a Grand Slam? Even one? Come on, surely you MUST have done something to be so full of attitude. And man, how short people’s memories are. Does anybody remember Muhammad Ali most famous saying? Oh that’s right it was “I’m the Greatest!” Or let’s look at Jimmy Connors, or John McEnroe. NONE of these guys were shy and demur-whether they wore winning or LOSING about how they were the “best.” It’s unusual for a woman to do it and there are so few Black women tennis players that, YES, she pumps herself up. Who can fault her when she’s been repeatedly cheated at the French, called all kinds of names, AND had to deal with those “objective” people in the booth talking about her and her sister negatively whenever they get a chance. I mean, Mary Jo and the others were SO easy to make backhanded compliments for YEARS until the Williams winning streak could no longer be denied. So surprise, surprise Serena decides to be her OWN number one fan AND number one critic to get herself to the top. To NOT be a braggart is, frankly, kinda UNAmerican. Anybody remember a certain flight suited dude standing in front of a Mission Accomplished banner?