Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday Tirade: All About Control

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009.

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009.


It's been a mighty long time, but I'm feeling the need to rant this Tuesday. MadProsseah brought us the news and I posted the ITF press release about Serena's penalty in his entry.

The release itself is a fraud, the perfect representation of the fraudulent organization that released it.

As an astute commenter on another forum asked, "If she's not suspended....what does this one mean?"

3. Ms. Williams is hereby suspended from participation in either the 2010, 2011 or 2012 US Open, as the case may be, except that any such suspension will not be imposed if no further Grand Slam Major Offence conviction occurs through and including 2011.

It means that the ITF is trying to control her.

Who is the ITF trying to appease? Mary Carillo? Andre Agassi? Lindsay Davenport? The rest of the field? Make a clear-cut decision. Suspend her or don't suspend her. Fine her $175,000 or fine her $82,500. But whatever you decide, don't try to split the difference with some Draconian bullshit.

Serena Williams is not an animal who belongs on a leash, short or long. She's a human being who lost her mind and had a reprehensible and inexcusable outburst. Given her history of high-profile, on-court injustices, a lesser person would have lost her mind years ago.

Serena has been fined the maximum. She apologized. She's never done anything like it before; it's highly unlikely she'll ever do anything like it again. She's proven throughout her career that she learns from her mistakes, big and small.

Adults would move along.

But the adults are asleep at the wheel over at the International Tennis Federation and the infants are running wild.

Fine Serena excessively, but if she behaves she'll get half of it back? Suspend Serena from the US Open for three years, but if she behaves her suspension won't be enforced? And since that clearly isn't enough, let's put her on probation and treat her like a common criminal. Oh, yes. And let's not define our terms (what the fuck constitutes a major offense anyway?) so we can muddy the water with ambiguity.

What kind of mind games are these idiots playing? I'm not one for shaming, but the whole thing is beyond ridiculous and the ITF and its representatives ought to be ashamed of themselves.

The ITF's action here is even more reprehensible and inexcusable than Serena's because the ITF, despite its cowardice, actually has power over her and they're abusing it to try to control her.

If this is how the ITF governs, then it should be put out of its misery post haste.

And I hope Serena, her spirit willing, her body strong, is inspired to win every Slam she enters throughout her entire probation.


lilac said...

Shit, a "major offence" could be pulling out of a gs match or a press junket. Craig, you are so right this is all about control. Idiots. Serena tends to play poorly when she's melancholy. But she's a beast when she's angry. If we know this is about controlling her so does she. I think we are going to be very happy with her GS wins this year. I feel for the rest of the field. Let a ball hit a member of a doubles team thw Williams sisters are waxing, and watch their team lobby the ITF to rule it a major offence. The ITF, as u said sahoul be ashamed of themselves for putting a target on Serena's back for all the players to take shots at. Despicable. And for all she's done and how she's behaved on the court.

Beth said...

Serena has never been a favorite of mine on the women's tour but this ITF ruling is out in left field. It's a shit-or-get-off-the-pot situation. Either lay down the max fine and move on or suspend. You can't have it both ways and leave all these shades of gray. The contingency on good behavior as it relates to her possible suspension is absurd. WTF?!?!!?! No one deserves that kind of an ambiguous and equivocal ruling. Indeed, the infants are running around shitting all over the place with no diapers, for lack of a better way to put it. Nice write up Craig.

edma1022 said...

With this proclamation, next year will be open season against Serena. Every player, ump, linesperson, and ballkids will have a field day testing that "good behaviour" clause.


The establishment expects Serena to play cutesy-footsy while bludgeoning her opponents? If not, oh, it's the doghouse for you ... huh?


It's like saying "we want you in the draw (to fill bums on seats), but toe the line or we'll break your sorry arse".

I'm curious: has anyone spoken out against this crazy conclusion yet? media? commentators? fellow players?

Oh well. Knowing Serena, she's gonna camp out for the next 18 months... then re-train, lose weight, and come back to blow away the competition.

Michael said...

I don't know - this is a weird situation but it might meet the needs of both Serena and the tour. First of all, the money is not an issue. Fines are pointless in professional sports. These folks make plenty and $10,000 or even $80K or $175K is not going to make Serena wince.

In order to prevent such a tirade in the future, from Serena or perhaps more importantly from someone else, there has to be a threat to take away playing time. I don't think Serena's tirade deserves an outright suspension, being the first occurrence. Fortunately, she was not suspended directly.

So what is the Grand Slam Committee to do? A "potential" exclusion from a US Open if another "major offense" takes place serves the purpose, though what that is needs to be spelled out.

Fining her the whole amount and suspending her, with the possibility of revoking those is a damn stupid way to do it, but I think the idea of "don't do it again" is the best they could do.

I don't expect Serena to commit another "major offense" so she gets what she wants and needs - no reduction in playing time.

So it doesn't seem to be about punishment to me. It is about control in the sense that all players, including Serena, do need to play and interact within certain boundaries. I think everyone agrees that Serena was out of those bounds.

Some clarification about rules and penalties would be in order from the tours. In particular, I think clarification is needed with respect to player-linesman interactions, which are different from player-chair umpire interactions.

Rai. said...

Great, great, great piece. Thank you for writing this as it absolutely made my day. I'm a big Serena fan so seeing this other side that hasn't been written is truly appreciated.

Karen said...

I was just on youtube a moment ago and I saw that someone had uploaded a newer version of the AO03 match between Clijsters and Serena. I cannot recall that there was that much booing in the crowd when Serena came back from 5-1 down and won the match. The commentators were so disappointed and the crowd, except for a few were quite voiceferous when Serena made errors in that match. When I look back now at how Venus was treated in her match against Clijsters and the foot fault call that will go down in infamy, sometimes I have to wonder how these 2 young women manage to keep their tempers in check all these years. It cannot have been easy to play in front of so many people on the grandest of stages and listen to people booing you and perhaps calling you out of your name. It just boggles my mind that with all that is happening, they are still here, being great champions for the sport of tennis. Just amazing really.

Dapxin said...

It always find a way to justle with superiority...

Now I dont know how the Tennis folks do their thing in Tennis, but to put a probation, one of
their star players, is suspect.

In football, you mess up with the powers, worst, you get a match ban, 6months ban, or evil, 1 year ban - where you must have actually punched the refree - and you are back.

Pull the plug and be clear. Everyone square.


I just hope this helps Serena stay focused to make 2010, probably the best finale of her all too sterling career.

A tiger, never needs to
proclaim, its very Tigritude.

And yes! Craig, i quite like how you pull your punches - right or wrong, you throw.
Nice post.

Pamela said...

Edma, you said:

Oh well. Knowing Serena, she's gonna camp out for the next 18 months... then re-train, lose weight, and come back to blow away the competition.

I don't get the rationale behind the statement. Why would she hide? It's not as if she can't control herself or hasn't for 99.9% of the time in her career. She's doing exhibitions and charity events - hiding doesn't seem to be her agenda.

MMT said...

The reason for this ruling as it has been delivered, is the same reason Venus Williams and all her fellow WTA players played Dubai his year, and the same reason the YEC championships on the WTA are played in half empty stadiums in a country where women would be arrested for wearing what the pro's wear on the court.

Money - If Serena is suspended, everybody loses money - but if not penalty is levied, the tour becomes rife for some idiot to take Serena's behavior the next level - and by next level, I mean physical - and then they're all screwed again.

Hence, this half hearted effort. It's about the money, and everybody's doing just fine as a result of this - including Serena.

They all lack principal - the players and the tour, and this unfocused denouement to this whole affair is just what you'd expect from a tour and associated players that will and have done whatever it takes to keep the money flowing.