Serena Williams and What is Wrong with the Feminist Movement
The U.S. Open Women’s Final could have made headlines for many reasons this weekend. Serena lost a Final to an up and coming great tennis player. The first Japanese player, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam could have been an accurate headline when Naomi Osaka did it.
But no, we are talking about Serena Williams melt down which led to the New York tennis crowd booing as the 20-year old Osaka won her first Major in tears because of the boos. It was a tragedy. It was disgusting. It was embarrassing. But the most embarrassing thing was Serena Williams blaming the whole event on sexism or some such nonsense.
Williams and this incident provide a problem for the Third Wave Feminist Movement. Is Serena the product of a feminist ideal, standing atop her sport and the sporting world despite her gender? Or is she the victim?
You can check out the video here. But quick version. Serena Williams and her team were accused of coaching. Coaching is against the rules in tennis. Most tennis insiders know coaching is going on or at least hard to determine what is the difference between coaching and supporting. It’s a tricky, nuanced rule that gets called or ignored on a regular basis. Coaching violations are a common violation called in Majors.
Serena Williams was angered that the coaching violation was called. She called it an attack on her character. After a couple of exchanges with the Umpire, Carlos Ramos, things seemed to be smoothed over. Regularly violations are called on players throughout a match. One warning is just that a warning, nothing happens and the match usually moves on.
Later on, in the same set, however, Serena after being broken by Naomi Osaka throws her rackets destroying the frame. This is another code violation. A common one handed out. But when you add the two violations on top of each other it gives the opponent a point in the next game. Thus Osaka now goes into a game with a 15-0 lead.
This is where the real fireworks begin. With two violations the rules are followed by Ramos. But Serena Williams, who is down a set and just lost her lead in the second set, now goes on a tirade of verbal abuses. Included in the tirades is,
“You owe me an apology”
“You are a liar”
“Say your sorry, then don’t talk to me”
“You will never do another one of my games”
“You will never, ever, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live.”
Finally, “You stole a point from me, you’re a thief”.
With that last one Ramos calls a third violation, Verbal Abuse. With a 3rd violation Serena then lost an entire game and all hell broke loose.
A quick look at where we are at. Serena feels wrongfully accused of breaking the rules with the coaching violation. Her coach, after the match, will confess entirely to coaching, it should be noted. But it is to the Umpire discretion when to hand out violations. Was this one warranted, maybe.
Serena breaks a racket, a clear violation that always garners a violation no matter who does it. The violation is assessed as it should be. A point is awarded to the opponent.
The Umpire is playing a strong hand, trying to control the game. Violations have been broken and assessments have been made. Should he have assessed her a violation on the broken racket, yes. It’s not tolerated in tennis.
Now Serena escalates it herself. She could have tried to refocus or differed to the Umpire who clearly wants to get control over the match, which is his job. Instead she makes war. She certainly begins a barrage of verbal attacks that extend throughout their cross over.
She insults him. Most dangerously to me is she threatens him and his career when she says he will never work on one of her matches again. She demands an apology. Finally, she calls him a thief after time is called on the crossover. It is at this point that the third penalty is called. A third penalty which gives an entire game to Osaka. Warranted, absolutely.
These rules and violations system are in place for exactly what happened on Saturday. It is there to keep control of the game in the Umpires hands and not in the players hands. It is there to diffuse situations while allowing the Umpire enough teeth to crack down on behavior not deemed appropriate by their sport.
Serena Williams acted in a manner that required rules of this harshness. When she broke rules, while losing, she attacked the Umpire in a completely inappropriate manner. She is the most powerful American tennis player. She is the most powerful female tennis player in the world. She went at this Umpire in a fashion that was completely inappropriate. Those rules were in place for exactly this situation and this reaction.
But what is worse, is after the third violation and game penalty is assessed she calls out the Head Referee to complain. The Referee backs the Chair Umpire and we get the first wave of what is to come, it happened because I am a woman. This is continued in nauseum in her post-match press conference.
To the Referee she says,
“Do you know how many other men that do much worse than this.”
“This is not fair because if they are men this doesn’t happen to them.”
“Because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman your going to take this away from me.”
And here all true feminist in their right mind flee. For if what she represents is a fight for women’s rights in this battle, the whole human race is going to hell.
As previously pointed out. She is one of the single most powerful athletes in the world. She is the highest paid female athlete, her deals with Nike and Chase are astronomical. She has the name recognition and stature as great as any female in history. She has used her position to threaten an Umpire of her sport who has called the game completely within the rules.
But now she is trying to convince us she is the victim because she’s a woman?
She also makes the claim of, if a man would do this he wouldn’t get assessed. They get assessed for all of those things on a regular basis. That level of verbal abuse would be a code violation on anyone. And really do woman’s rights now mean lowering the standard of behavior for everyone?
She continues on this vein in her press conference and there are dolts about who will claim her the new face of the feminist movement. But what she did and how she acted was abominable.
While she was losing, she egged on a home crowd to steal the moment from Naomi Osaka. She was the most powerful person in that arena. Yet when things didn’t go her way she turned victim immediately. Is the feminist movement about empowering woman, like Serena has been empowered over her lifetime? Or is it about having a ready excuse of “I’m a victim” whenever things don’t go your way?
The person who ought to apologize is Serena Williams. She ought to apologize for the threats she made to Carlos Ramos, to the fans of New York and especially Naomi Osaka who’s dream moment she stole for bad behavior.