Twitter
Categories
Archives

Entries in Serena Williams (91)

6:34PM

For Serena the day after: A $17,000 fine and plenty of support

  NEW YORK—And now it’s not merely sport. Now it’s sexism and racism and people who are quick to try to get control by getting into someone’s wallet, or purse—but isn’t the distinction between those two sexist?

 Tennis is back to its schizophrenic stages of lunacy, which perhaps is the way to get noticed at the start of the NFL season.

   What happened to Serena Williams? Virtually everybody except Trump and Obama had an opinion. I mean, it wasn’t surprising that Billie Jean King would weigh in on the chaos. It’s her tennis center where the U.S. Open is held. At least it’s named for Billie Jean.

 Naturally John McEnroe, Mr. Controversy his ownself when he played in the 1980s, currently announcing the tournament on ESPN, along with younger brother Patrick, would give an “I’ve been there” comment—because he has been there.

  Maybe the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, was a trifle impatient with Williams on Saturday night, snatching a game from her in the second set of her, 6-2, 6-4, finals loss Saturday night to Naomi Osaka. All right, more than a trifle.

   Still, the emotion, arguments, confusion, distress, heresy and general lack of civility didn’t seem to have as much of an impact as does the eternal war between female and male

    Everybody appeared to be wrong at the women’s final, except poor Ms. Osaka, 20, the first Japanese to win a Grand Slam tournament who with the booing (of Ramos) and irritation of Ms. Williams, was almost made to feel like a victim not a champion.

  A percentage of the media should also be included, the ones who applauded after Serena closed out her post-match interview saying, “I just feel I have to go through this for the next persons who want to express themselves and want to be strong women”  No cheering in the press box?

 Sunday, the U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the Open, fined Serena $17.000, a pittance compared to the $82.500 she was fined for telling a line judge who called a rare foot fault in a ’09 semi against Kim Clijsters, “I’m going to stick this bleeping racquet down your throat.”

What set off the figurative fireworks Saturday night was when Ramos warned Williams for being directed from the stands by her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, She disagreed, and when she broke a racquet the warning became violation and a penalty point. Outraged, Williams yelled at Ramos, who then gave Osaka the game and 5-3 lead. Boooooo. That was the reaction of 23,000 fans.

  This was the consensus the day after. All coaches give signals from the stands, which is against the rules but rarely called, except apparently against female players, although Rafa Nadal got nailed a while back.

   And there are different tolerances, unspoken certainly, for men and for women.

. “Several things went very wrong during the U.S. Open women’s finals,” Billie Jean King, a multiple winner from years past, Tweeted after the Osaka-Williams match. “Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t and, as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.

“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it,” the Tweet continued. Williams said male players never are penalized for outbursts, even profanity “When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

  John McEnroe said of Serena’s observations, “She’s right. The guys are held to different standards. It’s like, ‘How dare she do that?’” Why the hell did (Ramos) go by the book? Do it like an NBA ref, telling a player to back off or he’ll be called. She needed some leeway. I said far worse”

   One reason Ramos and other chair umpires have so much power is because of a situation at the1979 Open, naturally involving John McEnroe and another hothead of the era, Ilie Nastase.

  The umpire, Frank Hammond, did what Ramos would this time do to Serena, giving Nastase a game for a 3-1 lead. Fans hurled empty beer cans at Hammond, who walked away before the match would end with McEnroe the winner.

  The other McEnroe, Patrick, reminded the television audience nobody understands Serena.  “None of us has walked in her shoes,” he said. “She’s an African-American woman who’s had to struggle. That’s where her response came from. But at the same time she has to be responsible.”

  Since when did responsibility become important in tennis?

8:13PM

Serena after the controversy: ‘Let’s make this the best we can’

 NEW YORK—The other lady, the new champion, Naomi Osaka was better on the court, which is supposed to be what matters. But because tennis is a sport o Byzantine rules and emotional players the last women’s match of the 2018 U.S. Open women became as much a war of words as a battle of forehands.

 When it was done Saturday, Osaka, a mere 20, defeating the great Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-3, we were left with accusations—by the loser—and tears, from both contestants, some in joy and some in anger.

  Yes, Serena, 36, still is working her way back after giving birth to a daughter a year ago and not returning until February to the sport she dominated for two decades.

   But Osaka, the first Asian to win a Grand Slam—she was born in Japan but holds U.S. citizenship—outran, outshot and out-angled Williams.

  And to her credit, Serena, very much a part of the controversy, as was the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos ,did her best, after she said the worst was done to her, to calm an outraged, booing crowd during the trophy presentations.

  “I don’t want to be rude,” Serena said to fans, lifting her arms for quiet. “She played well. I know you guys were here rooting for me. But let’s make this the best we can.”

  It was an upbeat comment after what was a very distressing match, not because Serena failed to pick up her seventh Open and 24th Grand Slam victory, but because she and Ramos had what Williams called “issues.”

  First she was given a warning in the second of game for coaching by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.  When she protested, telling Ramos. She’d “rather lose” than cheat.”  Ramos issued a warning.

  Williams said she wasn’t being coached but rather just offered thumbs up signal by Mouratoglou.  Ramos, from Portugal, then called for a second violation for breaking her racquet in disgust.

  She unwrapped a new one—no, neither she nor any of the others pay for them—and went on court and resumed arguing about not being coached,

  "You owe me an apology,'' she told Ramos, sitting above her, who had docked her a point Then she grew outraged. "You stole a point from me. You're a thief, too."

  When Williams wouldn’t back off—you’ve seen it in baseball when the manager won’t return to the dugout after being ejected—Serena was assessed a game penalty. Suddenly or maybe it wasn’t that suddenly she was behind 5-3. She was done figuratively and a few moments later literally

  Asked if the penalties were in part responsible for the defeat, Williams said, “That’s a good a good question. “  But she didn’t answer it.

   “I don’t know,” said Williams. “I feel like she was playing really well, but I feel like I really needed to do a lot to change  in that match to try to come out in front, to come out on top.

  “It’s hard to say because I always fight to the end, always try to come back, no matter what. But she was playing really well. It’s hard to say I wouldn’t have got to a new level, because I’ve done it so many times.”

   She wasn’t going to do it this time. Osaka, who grew up in New York, who as a kid watched Serena in the very place they played, Arthur Ashe Stadium, had only 14 unforced errors to Serena’s 21. Osaka was quicker to the ball and more effective when she arrived.

  Osaka appeared distressed during the post-match award presentations. “I feel I had a lot of emotions,” she explained, “so I kind of had to categorize what was which emotion.”

   She tried earlier to stay clear of Serena’s debate with the umpire, which was  hard.   “The crowd was really noisy, so I didn’t hear,” said Osaka. And when I turned around, uh, it was 5-3, so I was a little bit confused then. But for me, I felt like I really had to focus during the match because she’s such a great champion.”

  So too, after the chaos, after knowing the fans, mostly were cheering for her opponent, is Naomi Osaka.

 Think what you will, but she was the better tennis player this match.

7:46PM

Triumphant Serena, fearless off court and on

   NEW YORK—Serena Williams is a lady without fear, unafraid off the court to take an unpopular stand—supporting Colin Kaepernick in his controversial commercial—unafraid on the court to change the style of tennis that has been so effective through the years.

  Did you read what Serena said about Kaepernick, whose defiance is celebrated by Nike, admittedly also one of her sponsors?

  “He’s done a lot for the African-American community, and it’s cost him a lot,” she said. “I think everyone has a choice to do what they choose to do.”

  What Serena chose to do Thursday night was less momentous socially but quite significant athletically.

   A baseline player—“I usually only come to the net to shake hands,” Williams quipped—she moved up shot after shot, and in their U.S. Open semifinal thwarted the slice and drop-shot game of Anastasija Sevastova to win, 6-3, 6-0.

  After losing serve in the first game and then dropping the second, to go down, 2-0, Williams won 12 of the other 13 games in a tidy 1 hour 6 minutes under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium, closed before play began because of forecast of rain.

  The rain never materialized. Neither, after those first two games, did the supposed threat from the 28-year-old Sevastova, a Latvian who was in her first Grand Slam semi.

  A year ago the 36-year-old Williams was recovering from complications in the birth of her daughter, Olympia. Now she’s in the U.S. Open final for a ninth time with the opportunity for a seventh victory—and a record tying 24th Slam win.

  “It’s been an incredible year,” said Williams, who will be 37 in a couple weeks. “A year ago I was fighting for my life in the hospital. No matter what happens in any match I feel like I’ve already won. To come this far . . .I’m just beginning guys.”

  It’s confidence tempered by possibility that perhaps makes Williams willing to take chances.

   Sure she has the money and backing of Nike, but stepping forward for Kaepernick, the onetime 49er quarterback who has been ostracized for kneeling down during the national anthem, is unnecessary and among many tennis buffs, an elite gathering, unpopular.

   “Whether people protest it, which is a peaceful protest actually, or not, that is the choice of being American,” said Serena. “It doesn’t make them less American. And I think that’s also something that’s really interesting, is the fact that we all make up this world, because we have different views and different views on different things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be loving toward each other.”

   The sellout crowd of 23,000-plus certainly was in love with Serena. She’s been competing in the Open for almost 20 years. In tennis familiarity brings respect. She’s old guard but not too old to go unappreciated—even having been out of the game for 14 months, until March.

  She did get to the final at Wimbledon in July, if against a draw from which all the top 10 seeds were gone the first week. Angelique Kerber beat Serena in that final. Then Williams was smacked around in a couple of tournaments. Now she’s doing the smacking.

  “I’ve been practicing coming to the net,” said Williams. “I Lost matches against players like that.”
  She means players who have slicing backhands or cutsy little shots that land softly in the forecourt and are unreachable.

  “I’ve come to the net before,” she said, “I know how. I’ve volleyed when I play doubles. I just need to do it more.”

  Sevastova, who beat last year’s Open winner, Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals, said of Serena’s movement, “I think she should come to the net for sure. I don’t know if I was surprised. But again she was serving well.”

  Which she does most of the time.

  At the end Williams seemed to be holding back tears.

  “Yeah,” she agreed, “I was a little emotional because last year at this time I was fighting for my life.”

    The fearless lady also won that one.

6:12PM

Oh, mama, Serena makes U.S. Open quarters

By Art Spander

NEW YORK — She’s still going. Serena Williams made the declaration about herself. As if there were any doubts, and maybe when she was crushed in a match at Stanford five weeks ago, winning only one game in two sets, there had to be more than a few.

But that was then, and there were mitigating factors, besides the apparent one of trying to return to big-time sport only months after giving birth. And this is now, the U.S. Open, America’s historic tennis championship.

Serena has reached the quarterfinals for a 10th consecutive appearance.

Williams, who will be 37 this month, defeated another comeback lady, 33-year-old Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, Sunday, at Arthur Ashe Stadium and announced, “It’s been 20 years since I won the Open. I literally grew up on this court. I played here when I was 15, 16. And now I’m still going.”

She missed the date of the championship by 12 months — she won her first of six Open titles in 1999 — and she also mis-used the word literally. But those are trifles compared to what she has accomplished.

It’s become a standard part of the Serena references, having a baby a year ago, missing weeks of competition and practice. We know what she’s been through. Or do we?

“I think society puts it out there that you’ll just kind of snap back,” Williams said of her recovery and return following a C-section delivery and subsequent blood problems.

“That’s a myth. I feel like it’s important for women to know it doesn’t happen like that in an Instagram world. In the real world, it takes a while for your body to come back. Especially after a C-section. And not only that, like mentally and physically dealing emotionally for a child. I thought it would just automatically come together.”

It was together in the first set. That took only 18 minutes. Then Kanepi broke Williams' serve to begin the second set. And so we had a test.

Kanepi was going to retire at the end of 2016 because of her own various medical problems. But like Serena, Kanepi felt attached to the game. And in this Open, in her first match, she knocked out the top-ranked woman, Simona Halep.

On July 31, Williams was defeated by Johanna Konta, 6-1, 6-0, in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State. It was difficult to believe. But People magazine reported that the man who shot to death Serena’s sister Yetunde in 2006 had been paroled from prison, then arrested. That might be the reason Williams said, “I have so many things on my mind, I don’t have time to be shocked.”

What she’s thinking about now is adding a 24th Grand Slam championship to tie the record held by Margaret Court.

The victory over Kanepi, two days after the domination of sister Venus in a third-round match, indicate that Serena has returned to being among the best in the game, and never mind her ranking of 26th.

“I don’t think I want to win more,” Williams said of her current play. “I don’t think my desire to win could have been more five years ago … It has remained at an incredibly high level.”

That certainly is what makes a champion, a yearning to be the best, to finish in front. You read the tales of John Elway or Joe Montana, who even in supposedly friendly games, cards, backyard sports, played every point to win. So does Serena.

“I’ve still remained at that incredibly high level to compete and to win,” said Serena.

As understood by the scream she let fly when a backhand gave her the win over Kanepi.

“I don’t know, it’s just a Serena Williams scream,” she said of the outburst. “I don’t try to do it. It just comes out, and it’s just emotions. You’re out there. This is my job. This is what I do. This is how I earn a living. I’m going to do it the best I can.”

The victory, two days after the domination of sister Venus in a third-round match, indicate that Serena has returned to being among the best in the game, and never mind her ranking of 26th.

Which very well could be the best by any woman ever.

9:04PM

Unfortunately and fortunately, it’s Venus against Serena

By Art Spander

NEW YORK — And so in what might be called the twilight of their careers, the ladies whom the late Bud Collins nicknamed “Sisters Sledgehammer,” Venus and Serena Williams, will face each other Friday night under the arc lights. “Unfortunately,” said Serena, “and fortunately.”

Unfortunately for the siblings, who were raised to become the champions they are but cringe at the thought of competing against each other.

Fortunately for tennis in America, a nation that in the last several years hasn’t had many winners in the sport, male or female, other than the Williamses.

Maybe, to borrow a Rolling Stones lyric, this could be the last time. Maybe Venus, 38, and Serena, who will be 37 in September and is a new mother, will not go head-to-head again after this third-round match in the U.S. Open.

That would be acceptable to the sisters, who through seedings, success and the luck of the draw have met 29 times, starting at the 1998 Australian Open — yes, 20 years ago. Venus won that first match, but Serena has a 17-12 advantage.

Golf and tennis are games without team loyalties. It you’re a Red Sox fan, a 49ers fan, an Auburn fan, who’s out there doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they’re wearing the right uniform.

It’s different in individual sports. Support is built on achievement, certainly, but also on recognition — which admittedly comes from achievement. There’s a reason Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are scheduled at prime time, night time. To fill the seats. To build the TV audience.

The tennis purists know Alexander Zverev or Karolina Pliskova. But everybody knows Venus and Serena. Tennis fans? Let us borrow the Bill Veeck quote alluding to a sport far more popular in the U.S.: “If you had to rely on baseball fans for your support,” he said when he owned the Cleveland Indians, “you’d be out of business by Mother’s Day.”

Tennis is very much in business with Venus and Serena, who are as likely to be featured in Vanity Fair as they are in Sports Illustrated.

Their father, Richard, who both started their careers and, it is believed, manipulated those careers early on, supposedly deciding who would win the matches against each other, was protective of the sisters. He held them out of big-time competition until Venus, then 14, entered a WTA event at what now is Oracle Arena in Oakland in 1994.

She was impressive, but Richard Williams would say, “Serena is going to be better.” He was correct. She’s also more expressive than Venus, who as the older sister is more protective and less nonsensical. Also, when the questions fly, less tolerant.

After defeating Camila Giorgi in the second round Wednesday, Venus naturally was asked about a probable match against Serena, who a bit later would win against Carina Witthoeft. 

“You’re beating it up now,” Venus said. “Any other questions about anything else? I just want to talk tennis.” But not the tennis curious journalists wish to discuss. After all, how many times can you talk about a forehand? What’s going on in the player’s head?

“We make each other better,” Serena said about competition between the sisters.

They last played in March, at Indian Wells, Serena’s first tournament and third match since giving birth to Alexis in September 2017. Not surprisingly, Venus won, 6-3. 6-4, although Serena said she wouldn’t have been shocked were she the winner.

They might not want to play each other, but they definitely do want to defeat each other when on the court.

“We bring out the best when we play each other,” said Serena. What they also do is avoid critical remarks about the other.

“I never root against her, no matter what,” said Serena. ”I think that’s the toughest part for me. When you want someone to win, (it’s hard) to try to beat her. I know the same thing (goes) for her.  When she beats me, she roots for me as well.”

What we’re rooting for is a match worthy of the Williams sisters.