by Alvin Corneal
The tennis world looked forward to some high quality professional tennis between the legendary Serena Williams and promising Haitian-Japanese player Naomi Osaka at the US Open’s Women Final.
This was the type of sporting event which helps to provide excellent examples of the value of competence in the sporting world where the winner or even loser, both of whom may have come from low-income upbringing, and with dedication, have become millionaires from their commitment.
The match itself brought out the human side of Serena, whose performance waned somewhat by the display and mature temperament by her twenty-year-old opponent.
Serena was not playing as well as she had been in the past. Her mistakes were many while her opponent’s general demeanour appeared methodical—Osaka’s technique was magnificent, and her mental focus when she erred was calm.
Serena temporarily lost her cool after missing a simple forehand shot. Her disappointment following defeat in the first set was more than she could bear. She slammed her racquet to the ground, which brought a penalty to her, as is the tennis rule. One could see the anger in her moments before she continued.
However, while she was getting ready to return to normalcy, the umpire informed Serena that she had received coaching from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou who was at the time doing an official interview with a TV presenter, while being in the audience.
Did the umpire seek to enquire from any of his colleagues if they had observed this incident? What did the coach do so that Serena could have followed his advice? The umpire did not appear to seek advice from anyone and penalised Serena. In the heat of her present condition, she angrily accused the umpire of theft and had a game taken from her.
Yes, I agree, the broken racquet was in a fit of anger and did not present a positive picture for the world of fans, children and supporters. However, after watching international tennis for so long in my life and listening to statements made by the great tennis stars, the language used would not have made good reading.
I am not condoning her abusive language even if the top tennis players (mostly men) used their tongues as tools in that regard. It was totally wrong. Maybe we can throw our minds to professional footballers, and recall the number of times we see and sometimes hear the vulgarity from their lips.
Referees in these circumstances do not even call them for an apology. Some players are now placing their hands over their mouths so that their comments are not heard by any nearby microphone. No one gets penalised, not even the current tennis stars. But Serena was!
Of course two wrongs do not make a right. But the holistic picture has not challenged the umpire to justify the exact words of the advice which were given to Serena by her coach. The umpire’s or referee’s mistakes are final, so it was easier to inflict a fine on her.
Dear parents, there is a significant difference between a true sportsman or woman and a successful athlete. This is a lesson which your children can learn.