Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Female Trouble

When women tennis players do not perform to expectations, and show temper and irritability on the court, the announcer Mary Carrillo goes on about what pressure they are under and how difficult the life of a professional tennis player is and blah blah blah. The fact is that these are healthy young women, about one seventh of whom are likely to be menstruating at any given time.

Some of them may be amenorrheic because of chronic over-exercise and low body fat. These are the flat chested athletes one sees so often on the court. Serena Williams is not one of them. She is bosomy, curvaceous, and 27 years old.

My guess is that this had everything to do with her going haywire on the court in the semifinals against Kim Clijsters this evening.

Toward the end of the first set she had a temper flare up and smashed her racquet on the court. She was penalized one point for unsportsmanlike conduct. She lost the set 6-4. She was serving badly and Clijsters was serving well and Williams would have lost the set in any case.

She continued to serve badly in the second set but was able to stay even. It is the mark of a champion to be able to play badly but still stay even and even win. Clijsters was ahead 6-5 and Williams was serving to get into the tiebreak game. With the score 15-30 a lineswoman called a foot fault which, added to a prior bad serve, made a double fault and made the score 15-40. Which suddenly made it match point in favor of Clijsters.

The replay showed, as one would expect, that Williams hadn't even come close to foot faulting. Which meant that the lineswoman was being an officious incompetent at the worst possible time. There is provision for review of bad line calls by a high speed electronic camera. To my knowledge there is none for wrong (in this case wildly wrong) foot fault calls. In the video Johnny McEnroe the announcer and former tennis great who famously has very good eyes for line calls, can be heard saying, "You can't call that a foot fault." The bad call gave Clijsters two match points.

Williams went crazy and began screaming at the lineswoman. CBS bleeped out whatever she said but it was some sort of obscenity. The lineswoman lied and claimed Williams had threatened to kill her. Williams quite correctly said that was ridiculous. We can also assume that the lineswoman, who is Chinese, may not have a perfect grasp of English and literally didn't know what she was talking about.

The later explanation was that Williams had offered to shove the ball she was holding down the woman's throat. Which is not an obscenity and would not have been bleeped. From which we can reasonably deduce that Williams had offered to shove the ball into another orifice than the lineswoman's throat.

The tournament referees came out, spoke to the lineswoman and to Williams, and penalized Williams a point for unsportsmanlike conduct. Since it was match point for Clijsters, the point penalty meant that Williams lost the match. Clijsters goes to the finals and Williams goes home. (Actually Williams goes to the women's doubles final with her sister Venus on Monday, but that doesn't make as good a line.)

I can identify with Williams here. For some reason, willful stupidity is more infuriating than even dishonesty. The lineswoman first wrongly called a foot fault and then misreported what Williams had said to her. And at the very moment when her incompetence would be disastrous for Williams. If the moron hadn't called the foot fault the score would still have been 15-30 with Williams serving and she would likely have won the game and gotten into the tiebreaker game.

Clearly Williams ought to have had better self-control than to publicly berate and threaten to refecate (a back-formation word, so to speak) the tennis ball into the lineswoman. On the other the combination of being frustrated by her own bad serving, and having it compounded at the worst possible moment by the efforts of an idiot whose probable motive was to get attention, and it probably not being her calmest time of the month, make it understandable albeit not excusable.

One is reminded the recently dismissed administration official ,Van Jones, who was dismissed for calling Republicans in congress, "assholes". For all the discussion of the political difficulty and friction with the opposition party created by it, the real reason was that he had talked dirty in public. It certainly was not news to anyone that the congressional Republicans actually are assholes, but in our political culture one may not say so by talking dirty. Thirty-six years ago, Nixon was forced out but not because 18 minutes were erased from the tape. Rather it was after having pretended to probity all his life, he was exposed as both foul-mouthed and hypocritical.

On the feel-good side of the net, Kim Clijsters , a Belgian, is coming back from a two-and-a-half year break from tennis. She is well-liked and her nickname among the other players is "Miss Congeniality". After winning $14 million dollars, and winning the US Open in 2005, she quit to have a baby. She is now the mother of a little girl, Jada Ellie. Clijsters, though only 5'8", is a power player who was and is able to go toe-to-toe even with the likes of Serena Williams. As Mary Carillo said admiringly of her powerful forehand strokes, "Mom can still bring it."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:37 PM

    That little taddle tale geek. Honestly. I never laughed so much when she ran off to tell on her. If she were from anywhere but America she would rightly be lambasted as a little geek and in for a long cycle of public humiliation.