We’ve seen many outbursts by professional athletes, both men and women, and as sports consumers we can honestly say that Serena Williams was allowed to mouth-off to an umpire much longer than any in recent memory.
Usually an athlete gets to say one unflattering thing to an official before getting a warning. The second infraction can result in a technical foul in basketball. In hockey and basketball, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that could result in an ejection. In baseball, one really good comment can get you kicked out of the game. No one goes on and on, even as much as accusing the official of “stealing a point” and calling him a “thief”… who does that?
Aside from publicly reinforcing yet another stereotype of the ratched in modern society, Serena Williams displayed the ultimate in sore-loseritis because had she been winning her match against Naomi Osaka, none of this would have happened.
But as not-unexpected, the entitled Williams played the woman card, the mom card, and denied Osaka the opportunity to respectfully savor a well-earned upset victory.
Seriously…? Did so-called “digital writer for @People magazine” Emily Zauzmer actually watch any of the match or was it all about gushing over a staged consoling of an opponent overwhelmed by the on-the-court antics of a no-class drama queen who hogged what should have been Osaka’s time in the spotlight?
During the U.S. Open Women’s Final on Saturday, Osaka, 20, beat the tennis legend, 36, after Williams received three code violations. In the emotional trophy ceremony, as a roar of boos erupted from the crowd, Osaka tilted her cap down and began to cry. Williams, standing next to her, sensed the emotion, moved closer to Osaka, and wrapped her arm around her in a comforting gesture after a tough defeat.
— People Magazine, 9/9/18
Serena Williams was fined $17,000 which is chump change. Most male athletes (depending on the sport) can be suspended for subsequent games following an outburst of a significantly shorter duration. Despite what Williams alleges, it’s clear her sport granted her much more leeway than almost any sports played by men.
As contrite as John McEnroe was for losing his poise during his victory against Slobodan Zivojinovic in the third round of the United States Open, Farrar decided that his outbursts on the court had gone too far. McEnroe was fined $7,500, which carried with it an automatic two-month suspension.
— New York Times, 9/7/87*
The fact tennis has traditionally made sure we could all hear the audio of player outbursts (unlike other sports played by men) showed they expect their players to mouth off thus encouraging unsportsmanlike conduct.
Serena Williams is an embarrassment to all those who seek equality based on results, not a faux anointing of royalty status bestowed on those whose actions dictate otherwise.
*h/t Erik Pistek