Patrick Mouratoglou said it earlier this week. Rabid fans jumped all in his shit and took the occasion to call him names instead of dealing realistically with what he said. What did he say that incensed some parts of Serena Williams fanbase? Merely that 2015 is done, that she will not play again until 2016. You have to wonder if it was the message or the messenger that got fans in an uproar.
Let's look at 2015 for 34 year old Serena Williams. She held three of the four Grand Slam titles coming into the US Open. A win there would have given her a Career Year Grand Slam, something no one has done since Steffi Graf back in the day. Everyone, even my non tennis watching family, was talking about Serena. Thanks to a nice endorsement deal from Chase her picture is everywhere in New York City. You couldn't turn on a sports program without seeing her image or hearing a discussion about what she could achieve in New York. The women's final, usually the poor sister to the men's final, sold out long before the first ball was struck in competition at the BJK Tennis Center. Even the WTA, long known for it's blonde obsession got into the act. Serena. Serena. Serena.
And some want to believe that there was no pressure on her.
Everything is not about race but in a still mostly white sports environment where the achievements of athletes of color are looked at by some as anomalies sadly, once again, I have to go there.
The people who want to believe that Serena is some kind of a machine, that the pressure of hearing CYGS over and over and over wouldn't and couldn't get to her represents the myth of the unthinking, instinctual African American athlete. Pain? Nah? Pressure? What? Some, and I'm including some "fans" in this category, conciously or unconsciously accept this meme.
For an African American woman it's even worse. We have to bear the burden of being "strong", of being able to overcome difficulties that would reduce women of other races to tears and anti depressants. "We don't do that" is drilled into many African American women from childhood. So when we see a great athlete, maybe the greatest female athlete ever, admit that she's unable to play her sport just after a bitter and alnost inexplicable loss now some want to see it as a betrayal, an expression of weakness that a "strong black woman" would not give in to. Enough. It's 2015 people. I for one would not want to have lived through the year Serena did. She wants to be away from the madding crowd? Let her be. She's showing, through example, that there are times you need a professional, personal and emotional time out, that there is nothing wrong with admitting that and that "me" time is perfectly okay.
Fans have to get over living their fantasies through athletes or celebrities. Many of the so called "fans" are women, mostly African American or African Caribbean women who have deified Serena. She is not a deity. She's a woman. Sojourner Truth asked many years ago "ain't I a woman?" Stop asking Serena to live up to preconceived notions of strength and black womanhood. Maybe in doing that some of the pressure will come off of you too.
I'm not done people. The haters have also crawled out of the woodwork. I was surprised to see so many, well some, saying that Serena should be fined by the WTA, that she should be punished for daring to put herself first. Newsflash. It's no longer legal to whip black people senseless or throw them in boiling cane syrup because they've done something that affronts you personally. To them I will say this: What makes you think Serena did not discuss this with the WTA? The people who make high handed, often inexplicable decisions to play or not to play, nothing is said about them at all. There are still some who question how near death Serena was a couple of years back but accept that a shoulder injury, said to have been healed many years ago, is still troubling someone. Double standard? I'd say so. Leg injury is it now? No questions asked. Her camp says that's what it is and it is. Period, end of discussion. No outcry about that player withdrawing from a Mandatory that I recall. Did you see any? Nope, because she's injured per her people. I have no idea if these folks are being paid to look the other way or they think currying favor with a particular agent will make or break their career. If you call yourself a journalist, a reporter, how about doing what you say you're doing and report, not just slap your name on press releases. I get the feeling that "they" wanted an injured, brain dead Serena in Singapore so that one of the blondes would be able to eliminate her and tarnish her otherwise outstanding season, CYGS or not. I wonder if the chorus of "she should've cheated" will pick up where it left off if a similar situation comes up between players this year. We'll have to wait and see won't we?
So the race to Singapore, minus Serena Williams, and an ill Lucie Safarova, will showcase the WTA as some have always wanted it to be seen. Let's see how exciting that will be, and how many casual fans brave the time difference to watch.
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