Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Curious Cases Of Stolen Points

by MadProfessah


AFP


Another Williams Slam match, another curious incident in which the African American champion is robbed of a point. Curious coincidence. Notice the pattern:

2003: In a semifinal match at Roland Garros , Justine Henin raises her hand to say she's not ready, Serena serves a fault and the referee refuses to give Serena a first serve. Serena complains and the crowd completely turns against her. Serena wins the game, but loses the match.

2004: Umpire Marina Alves calls a point CLEARLY inside the line (on the far side of the court) OUT and awarding the point to Jennifer Capriati in the US Open semifinal match against Serena. Serena loses the match. The clamor for electronic line calling grows and becomes standard within 3 years.


2004: in a 2nd round match against Karolina Sprem at Wimbledon the umpire called the SCORE incorrectly, awarding Venus' opponent a point she did not earn. Venus loses the match.

2009: in a 3rd round match against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Serena nailed a ball at her opponent at the net on breakpoint down which clearly hit the Spaniard's right arm (in multiple replays) and then her racquet, to go over the net. The umpire awards the point and game to Serena's opponent, over Serena's protests. Serena wins the match.

These are just the curious incidents that I remember off the top of my head.

Do people REALLY THINK this has nothing to do with race? Why does this not happen to any other American players? Why is it just Williams sisters, and more often than not Serena especially?

What do YOU think?

34 comments:

Martyn said...

The umpire, reporters and Martinez are ridiculous and have no shame. Euros seem to have the capacity to display bad ethics also.

royce said...

I think France dislikes American players more than it being a race issue. After all they love their Tsonga,Monfils and Ouanna.

Karen said...

Boy I tell you, Serena called it clear as day, she cheated, what do you think? Say what you will about Roger Federer, but 2 times today during his match, he awarded points to his opponent, once in PHM's first service game, and the other time when PHM hit a first serve that had been called out, Roger checked the mark and noted that it was in. PHM went on to ace him. Serena and Roger are so much alike in relation to their on-court demeanour and off-court commentary. They think a lot of themselves and will ensure that fair play is exhibited at all times. Wish that many other players were like them.

BooksHere said...

What do I think? Let me tell you. For the ump not to even ASK the Spanish player and for said player to sit like a lump KNOWING she'd hit the ball over mostly with her arm, that's unacceptable. But the most amazing thing of all was Serena's reaction, which was CHEAT IF YOU HAVE TO, I WILL BEAT YOU. And I will do so with grace and resolve and smarts and calm.

Hats off to Serena. Later on at a press conference, no hemming around the issue when asked if she'd just used the word "cheat": "Well, what would you call it?"

kraa said...

There are several other black players on tour (Tsonga, Blake, Monfils + numerous lesser lights). Has it been a problem for them? I can't recall any incidents from the top of my head...

Pamela said...

Read this:

http://www.tennis.com/tournaments/2009/frenchopen/frenchopen.aspx?id=176080

No matter what happens to her, it is somehow her fault. It's just incredulous to me.

I'm not touching that "Tsonga and Monfils, Blake get support" comment. It's almost equivalent to - "some of my best friends are Black."

I will say that people in sport, not just tennis will go out of their way and sink low at times in order to have a win over the best or most accomplished.

Craig Hickman said...

royce, the French adore Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, and had no problem with Courier and Change winning there.

These American players span decades so the Franco-American relations that emerged after 9/11 can't be a serious factor in these crowds serving Serena shade.

I think there's a lot going on with the French crowds and Serena.

Serena has a house in Paris and speaks passable French. She loves a country that doesn't love her.

I can only imagine where she could have possibly learned how to do that.

Today, Serena responded with pure grace. I even though her mini-illness was nothing more than a physical catharsis about what happened today and what happened in 2003.

I don't know if Serena can win this thing or not, but if she does, it will be the best Slam victory of her entire career.

Craig Hickman said...

Pamela, the AP hasn't been a "news" wire in quite some time. It's the worst of the worst when it comes to peddling bias and propaganda.

If it classified itself as, say, a blog, that would be one thing, but the "reports" the AP peddles are so often pure editorial, I don't take anything "news" it transmits seriously anymore.

T0X MUND1 said...

I really like what Karen said. after all, total honesty is the ultimate arrogance

Craig Hickman said...

"Total honesty is the ultimate arrogance."

::

That's a great, great quote.

Clare said...

I don't know how many other players have had similar situations. It's hard to say if this is really just against Serena unless you look at ALL players in ALL similar situations. I don't know that anyone's done that.
Serena is such a big star and has such a big presence that everyone notices this kind of thing when it happens with her playing. And it makes a good story.
She has said she uses people's negativity against her as motivation. So - go for it!

Kia said...

I'm so glad to come here and have my thoughts on the subject articulated. I foolishly wandered elsewhere and the level of vitriol displayed towards Serena on line shouldn't surprise me...

Pheasant Plucker said...

"Do people REALLY THINK this has nothing to do with race? Why does this not happen to any other American players? Why is it just Williams sisters, and more often than not Serena especially?"

If it was a race issue, it would happen to other people as well. If it was an Anti-American issue, it would happen to other Americans. It's pretty clearly a Williams sisters issue. Why? Dunno. Maybe they pissed off the umpires at some point early in their career. Either way, it's pretty pathetic.

rabbit said...

The whole thing was utterly ridiculous. Martinez Sanchez should be ashamed of herself.

Tennis Vagabond said...

That's a tough call Professah. I don't think you can point to incidents years apart, with different opponents and officiating, and call that a pattern.

There are several horrible calls in every tournament. If you play deep into every tournament, its going to happen to you, and it will probably happen every few years. I do remember the Venus incident, which was really the worst thing I've seen an official do, but as I recall, Venus never noticed it to complain at the time either. (I on the other hand was screaming at my TV: HELLO! HASN'T SOMEBODY NOTICED THE SCORE IS WRONG!)
That said, what happened today is quite awful. Bad on the official, but really unbelievable for The Cheater.

I agree that there's something strange in the crowd being so cold still to Serena, since they otherwise are SO appreciative of players speaking French. I know when Serena spoke French in Montreal, they LOVED her for it. And her French ain't bad!

Tennis Vagabond said...

Wow, just read that AP piece. That is TWISTED!

Tennis Vagabond said...

The video is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S78TDLLGjc

There is NO WAY The Cheater doesn't notice this hitting her- she looks like she got punched!

As Serena said, "I hit the ball pretty hard."

Craig Hickman said...

Tennis Vagabond, the Wimbledon score debacle with Venus happened in the second round. She was not deep in that tournament.

We can explain away almost anything.

Perhaps it's not just race or gender. Perhaps it's race AND gender AND class AND personality AND astrology AND numerology AND... AND.... AND.... a combination of things.

But whatever it is, it sucks.

Craig Hickman said...

The evidence in the replays for me that makes the cheating so WILLFUL is that right after the ball falls to the ground, the player immediately puts her right hand on the racket to make it appear to the umpire as though it was there all the time.

That she would lie so blatantly about it in her press conference and call Serena's remarks stupid only underscores her WILLFUL disregard for the rules and for honesty.

I don't care how tragic her life story is.

She cheated, she lied, and she did it WILLFULLY.

If she can live with that, more power to her.

I'm glad that Serena won the match and showed grace and good sportsmanship. After all, she applauded the woman's good shots after the incident.

Mad Professah said...

I'd like to hear from the Black French players if that has happened to them.

Also, just because it doesn't happen to ALL Black players doesn't mean that it's not about race.

The probability of curious events happening 4 times and all 4 times the point going against the Williams is 1/16 (7%).

BooksHere said...

If the actions of the ump were not racist, the AP report posted on tennis.com, "Serena accuses Martinez Sanchez of cheating" ref by Pamela, is both racist and sexist. The "article" harps on Serena and her drama -- did any of you see anything but the most restrained of "Hey, did you SEE that?" Not a whiff of drama, but instead of reporting that the AP invents for its readers a scene in which Serena comes out looking peevish and unsports-person like. Boy, no matter now many times one sees something like this it still sickens.

pompelmo said...

Why should it have something to do with race?

Kia said...

I love that she applauded Martinez's shots after she cheated. I come from the kill 'em with kindess school...

And this whole idea that Serena's ON court persona is such nonsense. I'll grant you that she gives her critics plenty of ammo during pressers but time after time she and Venus have carried on with their business despite circumstances that would have made other players blow a gasket.

I've read this incident referred to as bad luck, Serena's hex and other reasons that make it an unfortunate "coincidence"

tangerine said...

I don't think this is a racism or anti-American issue, I think it's a laws of attraction thing. Serena is just one of those people who's a magnet for weird happenings.

Martinez's behavior and the umpire's lack of action was pitiful. Good for Serena that she won.

Veruca Salt said...

It's just some straight bull**** that's what it is Craig.

But I'm thrilled at the thought of Sanchez Martinez calling Serena's words "stupid" as she packs for her trip back to Spain tonight.

har dee har har!

HoiHa said...

For the Williams' it is racism and sexism ... the French like their black people to be "just so", and they like their women to be "just so" ...

Racism and sexism are huge issues in France that are not dealt with.

With regard to race the government's official policy is to say "we are all French" and we will not define ourselves any other way. While having an official policy of refusing to define persons by race is perhaps lovely as an ideal, the practical reality of that is that racism flourishes in jobs, housing, education etc. Because the government policy does not permit racial definition, there are no governement surveys of the problem never mind any government-led solutions. But private surveys and research done by academics show rampant racism and sexism across France. It is a massive problem that officials pretend does not exist.

As for sexism ... well duh ...

Serena is a big, strong, intelligent black woman who speaks her mind and takes crap from nobody - she is the nightmare of every French Open and every Wimbledon organiser ... their ideas of what women tennis players should be are more in line with Larry Scott. And the Williams sisters - especially Serena - is not it.

HoiHa said...

Having said the above - I just went and had a look on youtube and I have to say it does look to me like the ball hit her raquet and not her arm ... doesn't change anything though ...

dapxin said...

It sucks! all there is to say...

+ If Serena grabs this one, it 'll mean a heck lot to her.

expect some dancing on clay mo. Its possible

pompelmo said...

HoiHa said...

Having said the above - I just went and had a look on youtube and I have to say it does look to me like the ball hit her raquet and not her arm ... doesn't change anything though ...

----

Actually it does. It shows how we are more than ready to bring up racism even when the situation is not obvious. For me, this is keeping people under constant pressure by the threat of being accused by racism.

I think the ball hit Martinez's arm, but the umpire can easily miss it. A mistake is usually just a mistake.

HoiHa said...

pompelmo - sorry but for me it does not change anything because as I see it the issue is not whether the ball hit her arm or not - the issue is the way it was handled on the court - the umpire did not even bother to ask Martinez if the ball hit her.

I am not one to jump on the racist bandwagon - never have been and never will be ... but what I do know is that the Williams sisters have not been treated over the years with the respect they have earned and I cannot think of any other explanation for why that might be so.

Shani said...

I don't even know if I like Serena, (I know I love Venus) but I feel so bad for Serena because she has NO home court anywhere so I cheer for her instinctively. Not that she seems to need it too much. I saw her play in Florida almost a decade ago and the vitriol the crowd spewed against her was horrifying. Tennis as a genteel sport is clearly a myth.

Mad Professah said...

Have you seen THIS BULLSH*T at Yahooo?

http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/blog/ten_experts/post/Serena-Williams-calls-opponent-a-cheater-after?urn=ten,166989

This guy basically blames Serena for the Drama.

And fascinatingly, he reminds me of the incident with James Blake and Fernando Gonzalez at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Blake was robbed of a point. Although, I do not think that was a controversial since it was impossible to tell without a replay and it is very possible tha FoGo didnt feel the ball touch him.

There is no way that Mari Jose did not know she was hit by the ball. Period.

Mad Professah said...

pampelmoAre you kidding? There is NO QUESTION that the ball hit her arm first. There's multiple NBC freeze frames showing that.

Why didn't the umpire ask Martinez Sanchez whether the ball hit her?

WE NEED INSTANT REPLAY IN TENNIS!

bryan said...

Drama follows Serena wherever she goes...this has less to do with race and more to do with shady opponents and bad calls. And the French crowds are notorious for their eagerness to boo and get on the players.

And if another player blasted a ball right at me, I might not just give over the point...