The sports story of the week is Serena Williams’ outburst at the line official for calling a foot fault in Saturday’s US Open semifinal match against Kim Clijsters. The ruling caused Williams the point and more significant, the match. So, of course, the obvious questions have arisen: Was it excusable for her to go nuts? Should she have been fined? Should the official have even called it?
What happened is also reminiscent of Tiger’s tantrums, but in this scenario, Serena makes him look like a saint.
Siding With Serena
Apparently more people have defended Serena’s actions than reprimanded her. John McEnroe, well known for his own antics on the court, said it was fine and during the telecast noted, “You can’t call it from there.” Will Leitch agreed and argued that she shouldn’t be fined or suspended. Katie Baker (my college roommate. Yes, shameless name-drop) does the same. She wrote:
Her rant was vulgar and uncalled for. It was menacing and immature. It was unsportsmanlike. It was also, dare I say, pretty entertaining…Televised ranting in sports is nothing new. Anyone who has watched Tiger Woods play has probably lip-read some choice words before.
No doubt it was inappropriate for her to yell at the official, “If I could, I would take this f#cking ball and shove it down your f#cking throat,” etc. Anyhow, the comparison to Tiger is kinda fair — he’s notorious for his club throws and cursing. Personally, I find them amusing, like Serena’s meltdown.
Why the Fine Is Legit
Tiger is probably fined every time his F-bombs are caught on the telecast, and the complaints are endless. We don’t know how much each slap on the wrist costs Tiger because the Tour doesn’t disclose the information (for a reason unbeknownst to me). I assume it’s somewhere in the ballpark of Serena’s fine, $10,500 (which is pocket change for both of them).
While Tiger’s behavior (notwithstanding this epic club throw) doesn’t bother me, he should be fined. Just like Serena does. Same goes for baseball players when they flip out at the umpires. In last night’s game, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez disputed a call, a third strike, and yelled at the umpire. He was ejected and will be fined.
Let ‘Em Play
A comparable rules dispute happened recently at the Buick Open, where Tiger called out official John Paramor for putting him and Padraig Harrington on the clock on the 70th hole. Paddy, who had a one-stroke lead over Tiger, subsequently carded a snowman, which allowed Tiger to cruise to the win. In Tiger’s presser, he criticized Paramor for interrupting what had been a compelling match. I agreed.
Now I don’t know tennis well enough to say whether or not Serena actually committed the fault. While the situation is different, my gut instinct says the line official should have let it go. Sure, rules are rules, but sometimes you gotta let them play, especially in such a big match.
But point being: At least Tiger doesn’t throw clubs or curse at rules officials; though it does cost him.
[Photos (L to R) by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images & Scott Halleran/Getty Images]