It’s the moment any competitive athlete dreads, whether Little League or the U.S. Open — a lousy (you’re sure) call by the umpire or referee line judge. You’re wrong and about to lose the match/set/game/championship/lots of money.
“goes beyond etiquette, into the realm of gender roles. Serena’s poor sportsmanship is a sort of breakthrough, proof that women athletes can behave every bit as irrationally as men. And because of that, it would be a mistake to punish Williams more than a man for the same actions.”
The video clip on YouTube offers four “bleeps”, four words broadcasters couldn’t share with us. As John McEnroe told the Star-Ledger, she’s fought back from such calls before.
Fans booed her and she’s being fined $10,500, the maximum. Whatever you think of her behavior, being a totally driven machine is what propels many great athletes to the very top of their game. John McEnroe was a legend in his time for verbally abusing judges, while a woman pro athlete with a potty-mouth (how many are there?) never wins many fans.
If you’ve ever competed at a high level athletically — (for four years, I was a nationally ranked saber fencer, a sport that awards points for aggression) — you know the ferocity some competitors bring to their game. What the peanut gallery doesn’t know, and can never understand if they’ve never felt it, is the push of that internal engine driving some people past “polite” into profanity. When that athlete is a woman, it’s considered an even greater breach of etiquette.
Is that a fair call?