Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Condemnation, Blame, and Serena Williams

by Savannah

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I don't know who Stephen Rodrick is, the man who was tasked with doing an in depth interview with Serena Williams that appears in the current issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine, the one that published just before the start of Wimbledon.

This is the comment that is causing all kinds of drama.

We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV – two high school football players raped a drunk 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

Serena has issued the following statement:

“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.

I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”

There are a number of problems with Rodrick's interview, chief among them quoting from what appears to be a private conversation Serena had with an unnamed person about people who are never identified. Fans of a certain player quickly decided who Serena "must have" been talking about and accused her of throwing shade against one of the women ranked second or third in the WTA. When the beat reporters who usually print whatever the Tours want them to question the ethics of what was done regarding the private conversation and regular tennis heads ask why that wasn't edited out you know you have a perfect storm.

The other question is why, if an advance copy was presented to Serena's PR people there weren't protests about the content? Why wasn't a PR person present at the interview to stop Serena from making what is obviously a personal observation about the Steubenville situation?

The glee with which some fandoms have seized on the statements to attack Serena tells me this is being used to try and break her focus in the hope that she will lose in an early round to a lower ranked player or a Qualifier and allow their favorite to win a Slam without having to go through The Great One.

I don't want to get feed the trolls so this is all I will say on this matter.


Karen said...

I want her to go through that Wimby draw like it was water. Keep focused and determined. Do what you have to do. Slam those aces down. The Other One says winning Wimbledon or the USO is her goal this year. Let us see the draw that she gets. I just want Serena to remain focused and do what she needs to do to win

Fred66 said...

Oh, please, it takes a lot more than this tempest in a teacup to distract Serena. Personally, I don't think she should have apologized at-all, because she only said what 90% of people familiar with that case think anyway. You would think though, that after years of dealing with the media, Serena would have been a bit more DISCREET. Those comments about Masha(supposedly) make her look like a immature, spiteful brat, in other words, the classic 'Mean Girl. That dissapointed me more than the rape comments.

Karen said...

Fred, you are doing the same thing that Sloane did. You are assuming that Serena's comment was about Pova. From what has happened today it seems like it is Petra. In any event, I actually thought it was about Wozniacki, seeing that at the time that the interview was done, Woz was top 5 and only went down in the rankings after Miami and clay season.

Fred66 said...

@Karen, Wozniacki has not been Top 5 since last year, and she has a pretty good relationship with Serena, for as far as that is possible. Serena has never had any kind of beef with Petra(at least not in public), who is known as being pretty laid back and nice. The reason why most people including myself assumed this is about Masha is because of the history between them, which is not exactly warm and fuzzy.

Savannah said...

A lot of the speculation could've been avoided if the man who did the interview had engaged in standard journalistic practice & not speculated about who Serena was talking about IN A PRIVATE CONVERSATION that was not part of the formal interview.

He has said that he ASSUMED it was Pova and that Serena never told him who she was talking about. A decent editor would've removed that portion from the final article.

Serena has spoken to the family of the girl who was assaulted and they've said everything is fine.

Karen said...

Fred, it could also have been Vika. I don't think Serena's comment was about the player. I think she was more upset about the relationship. In any event, as Savannah points out, it was a private conversation that should not have been published.

I don't think there is bad blood between Serena and Pova. I think there is mutual respect. I doubt if they are going to go karoaking together, but I doubt if Serena would say that about Pova either.

Savannah said...

I see this morning that what I thought would happen has happened. There are reports all over Twitter about Pova throwing shade at Serena about her relationship with Patrick.

I felt from the beginning that all of this nonsense was an attempt to rile Pova up and hopefully distract Serena so that Pova won't get another beat down in a Slam final courtesy of Serena. Don't forget that the man who did the interview said he had no idea who Serena was talking about and ASSUMED it was Pova.

I find it interesting that some of the tennis journos have gone for the okey doke from Pova's PR people (or whoever is putting out this garbage about Pova being upset).

I'm still not convinced that Pova/Dimitrov is more than a publicity stunt to cover both players, pictures not withstanding. I have no idea why either player needs cover but that is my belief, especially now. I don't think Pova knows about or cares about anything anyone says about her real or imagined. That this is becoming a thing is sad and stupid.

Karen said...

I don't think I have ever seen or heard of Pova's agent attending a presser when it had nothing to do with her trying to sell something. Those pics of her and Grigor in Madrid were so fake it makes no kind of sense. I am like you, I have no clue why Pova felt the need to defend an innuendo. Serena did not call her out. She had no reason to go sniping at Serena for the world's media to hear and salivate over. Clearly she did not read Serena's book where Serena went on a rampage just because some man broke up with her.

Is this an opportunity for Pova to get into Serena's head? Yeah, right, that will so work

Savannah said...

The willing gullibility of fans and journos alike is stunning in this situation.

b said...

To add to this if you read the comment VERY CAREFULLY - the 1st part of the eavesdropped conversation she is clearly talking about a tennis player "talks tennis all the time".... but he writes something to the effect of "she gets out of the car as conversations shifts..."

The last person it is likely to be would be Pova. Why would Serena be concerned about Pova getting into parties?! Since when do they socialise??

I thought more likely to be some celebrity friend.... If it IS a tennis player it is someone she's cordial with..... if not friendly..... Wozniacki & Azarenka far more likely & they are in high profile relationships.

Pova deciding to speak directly about someone's personal life, when hers has **so much** she wishes, is bizarre. Pretty sure her team did not approve this. Classic move would have been for publicist to call in a favour to a tabloid to put Serena on blast.

Serena was stupid to take a phone call with a reporter within earshot..... and she has admitted as much..... Am very confused why she agreeed to Rolling Stone interview in the first place. The overall tone is quite negative towards her.

The journo was quite savvy - he writes in a way that promotes misquoting while keeping himself in the clear (e.g. he states that he is guessing who she is talking about but writes it in such a way that snippets will show that Serena gosspied TO HIM directly and specifically named a tennis player, none of which are true).

Not sure why serena didn't put out a written statement when article came out emphasizing that it was a phone call and that sharapova's name was attached by reporter. Someone on her team is falling down on the job. That would have taken the wind out early.

The rape case - I actually understand what she was trying to say and it was not about blaming the victim. That said ridiculous to discuss such a topic offhand with a reporter.