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Serena Williams Was Wrong

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on September 10, 2018 19:32

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Serena Williams is without question the greatest female tennis player of all time. Her passion fuels her drive to win, but also comes with a price. She paid that price in Saturday’s US Open Final and has no one to blame but herself.

Congratulations Naomi Osaka; you deserved to win the US Open Final, your first Grand Slam victory and one of many I hope to come. Your focus under chaos and grace under extreme tension was commendable. Already, you are a champion of the ages and an example to millions of young players watching.

There are those who will say that Serena was robbed. I’ll disagree. You see, I love the sport of tennis and was once pretty good. By no means was I a Serena or Osaka. But pretty good. I had a lot of talent: speed and strength with a good understanding of the game. But I had one horrible quality – a temper. Fueled by a desire to win, perfectionism and fear, a beast would emerge and often rob me of success.

Quite frankly, when I look back at those many moments of my tennis days, I feel shame. I wonder if Serena will?

You see, the rules exist for a reason. They have evolved from the days of Jimmy Connors lamenting and McEnroe’s tantrums. Once upon a time, no one cared if you broke a racket, maybe even 10. You could swear and scream and rant all you wanted. Then the rules changed.

Serena isn’t oblivious to them. She is a professional. In fact, she has a history of aggressive behavior when situations don’t go her way. You may recall her getting disqualified against Kim Clijsters in the US Open semi-finals in 2009. This isn’t her first rodeo.

But let's break it down. When you violate the code of conduct, you get a warning, then a point penalty, then a game and then you forfeit the match. Serena had two but continued to not just make a case, but take an “in your face attitude” with the chair umpire.

No, she wasn’t actually in his face. She demanded he apologize and stared, pointed angrily, brandishing her finger at him. Quite frankly, I doubt it was calling him a “thief” that put him over the edge.

Quite frankly, she should be a better champion.  Coaching, whether received or not, is a penalty. The timing is questionable – I agree. I have witnessed far more egregious coaching situation.  But I’ll ask this, how many football games were lost in the 4th quarter by a questionable pass interference call?

The rules exist for a reason. They have changed and been modified for the safety of players, umpires, lines judges, ball kids and fans. They are enforced to also ensure a high-quality experience for all watching.  

For my own tantrums, as I said, I am not proud of how I let pressure affect me all those years ago. But even then, had I thrown a tirade such as that, my family and my team would have been the first to tell me I was wrong. The rules are there. Follow them or risk being penalized. It’s that simple.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on September 10, 2018 19:32

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