Sunday, June 23, 2013

“Anything I could do to support women I have done”

Not being one to waste a moment, Serena Williams has already moved on to her next controversy. (Ugh, doesn’t she find it exhausting?) Her feud with Sharapova has taken on nasty overtones – so nasty that someone seems to have gotten through to Serena that it’s time to shut it down. She now claims to have apologized to Sharapova. As of this writing, there has been no confirmation by Maria.

In a recent interview (Rolling Stone magazine), Serena was recorded bad-mouthing Sharapova on the phone. My sense is that the whole phone thing may have been a ploy by Serena to be able to make nasty comments about Maria without officially going on the record. I say this because Serena did not have to take that call during that interview. Nor did she have to make a point of speaking loudly enough to be heard and recorded. But she did, and she was, and once again she ends up looking like a fool.

The article claims that Serena made a number of petty, mean-girl comments about a certain tennis player who is not invited to the cool parties, who is too tennis-obsessed, and who is dating a man
with a “black heart”. Said woman assumed to be Sharapova. Said man deduced to be Dimitrov. Said passive-aggressive comment leading to Sharapova’s unsheathed, in your face, right back at ya biyatch!

Here’s Maria’s no holds barred response: “If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids”. Meow! Who knew Maria could throw down like that? She also blasted Serena for her comments about the 16-year-old rape survivor.

For a moment I wondered at the timing of the explosion of this feud. If these women did not dislike each other as much as they apparently do, I would have sworn that Maria was doing Serena a solid by distracting us from Serena’s bone-headed comments about the Steubenville rape victim.

I also wondered about Serena’s use of the word “black” as a pejorative in the reference to Dmitrov’s heart. Is his heart black because he dumped her? Is this like her Twitter meltdown over Drake? My friend thinks that the “black” comment was intended only to passive-aggressively signal Dimitrov’s preference for black women. Ugh. I can't stand passive-aggression. I much prefer Maria’s direct, honest attack.

The timing of all this is revealing in that it coincides with Serena’s latest self-description as someone who respects and supports other women. Really? If this is how Serena respects and supports other women, I’ll take a pass. I hope Serena doesn’t choke on her words because the Jehovah she claims to adore doesn’t like liars. And when you wear your religiosity on your sleeve the way Serena does, it becomes fair for folks to hold you to a higher moral standard.

So, as part of that standard it seems game to ask how come Patrick Mouratoglou was wearing a wedding band when he first started coaching Serena, and is no longer wearing one now that rumors abound about their romantic involvement. Psst, Serena! People who live in glass houses…

Let me grab this opportunity to apologize to Sloane Stephens for accusing her of being a dunce in class on the day they taught media training. Clearly there was a bigger Dunce sitting with her nails painted in the corner. And Sloane, in case you weren’t clear, said Dunce stated in that same interview that she is “definitely not that girl’s mentor”. ‘That girl’ was you. Ouch.

But someone needs to remind Serena that she is a mentor to all of the younger players observing her, both on and off the court. That is her mission as the #1 player, whether or not she chooses to accept it. It's the least I would expect of a player who claims to respect and support women. Jus' sayin'.


Karen said...

I don't normally disagree with you but I do now. Really, Serena was on a phone call, a private, a so-called journalist overhears a conversation and assumes it is about a certain individual. Tennis fans did not for one moment think it was Sharapova. Most of us thought it was Wozniacki or even Azarenka. Sharapova made the same mistake that Sloane did. They are so vain, they probably thought the words out of Serena's mouth was about them. I think you also fell into that trap.

Sharapova confirmed that Serena did in fact apologise to her about her name being dragged into the kerfluffle. She apologised to her for the reporter's assumption. Sharapova knew that and confirmed it and yet went out with the blessing of her super agent who was in attendance at her presser, where she decided to put Serena's life, her coach's life, her coach's children's life on blast for all the world to see.

I think Serena has done a fantastic job of repairing the damage that her comments on the rape victim have caused. She has issued a further apology, which in my honest opinion goes to the heart of the issue, i.e. victim blaming.

As a survivor of rape myself, I can tell you that I blamed myself for getting into the situation that led to the rape. Serena has used her really bad misstep and has reached out to the family and will be working with the young lady and her family to raise awareness of victims of sexual abuse.

Sharapova on the other hand is coming off as the woman who has not beaten Serena in 9 years and counting. That gets to you every single time. I can therefore understand why she decided to lash out at Serena in the way she did.

tennischick said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Serena did not apologize for the victim-blaming comments at first. She tried to blame ESPN. Then when they called her out on it, she finally, truly apologized.

The same thing happened with her so-called apology to Maria. At first she was vague about what exactly she was apologizing for. Once Maria publicly slammed her -- and I for one do not blame her because she was publicly humiliated and therefore deserved a public apology -- Serena then properly and publicly apologized.

The next time Serena asks herself why Maria gets the big endorsement deals while Serena does not, despite outperforming Maria, she needs only look to this last interview for an explanation. It's not just about race.

happygeek said...

Not invited to the cool parties??? Is Serena really 32??? Or stuck at 15? And who says Sharapova is languishing at not being invited anyway? Silly remarks from a grown woman.

Anonymous said...

Poor Serena, she can't help but put her foot in it everytime! I have worked with professionals on tour and part of my job as their coach is to a) help them with press conferences b) mentor them as to how to survive in this social media world c) show them the proper way to behave. In general to be a coach, mentor and friend.

I think Serena (and some others) are surrounded by such sycophantic groups/entourages that no one tells her when she is acting improperly. She needs a person in her group that can say "Serena you are making a mistake." I don't believe she has anyone in her circle that is doing that - hence her continuing to put her foot in her mouth far too often.

Jack in Travelers Rest

Karen said...

Am I missing something here? Has there been confirmation from anyone that Serena was talking about Sharapova? Everyone seems to be taking the journalist's assumption as fact. I don't get it

Doug said...

Karen, My guess is that she was referring to Kvitova's relationship with Stepanek, whose history is one of WTA
players who lose motivation while and after they are with him. Hingis. Vaidisova. Serena(?)... to hear the scuttlebutt, they did go out. I don't know, but I agree that the generally accepted assumption that it was Sharapova should be looked into more critically.

Karen said...

I got it from a very good source that it was not Sharapova that the scuttlebutt was about but rather Azarenka, someone who is actually a friend of Serena and for whom Serena is apparently genuinely concerned.

I too am concerned as Vika is now half the player she was since she took up with RedFoo. Her movement once a core part of her game is now gone and now she is suffering from a hip injury which I understand is quite serious. RedFoo needs to go away.

tennischick said...

I got it from a very good source (myself) that that makes Serena look even worse because now she wasn't bad-mouthing a player she dislikes but was bad-mouthing one of her best friends, accusing said friend of being not cool enough to be invited to the best parties, and of dating a man with a black heart.

The best that Serena stans can do is just shut up about this and let it go, move on. She made a mistake. She is human like us all. Let's focus on forgiving her and enjoying her tennis while she is still the player to beat. But stop making stupid excuses for her that only make her look worse than she already does.

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