Jon Wertheim: Wrapping up Serena-gate, more mail

Sep 22, 2011 Full story: CNN

For those tired of discussing Serena Williams -- and you're well within your rights to be -- skip this section.

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Ricardo

Virginia Beach, VA

#1 Sep 22, 2011
Great stuff Mr Wertheim about Serena,male chest pounding, girlie shreiks,seeding procedures.
I would take exception to calling a let when players shout words, phrases while playing a point. Anyone who does that is upping the ante to allow even more aggressive behavior being tolerated.
At least for me there is no race issue. Crude, rude language, gestures and the like by any player, male or female,besides being unprofessional contributes nothing to the game, it detracts. This may be hard to police, but when you don't want your children to see it, think it is ok to imitate, hear some of the language, and see players insulting and trying to humiliate, even give veiled threats,then the authorities of that sport should should address it.
I remember from reading about the temper Borg had as a young man. His coach pulled him from tournaments for a significant period. Borg was a changed person after that. It shows what some tough love can do for the sport and more importantly for the person. Someone has to insist that the wealthy young players mature, get in control of themselves, it is not ok to be obnoxious brats.

TMD

“Look! Up in the sky!”

Since: Dec 06

Columbus, Ohio

#2 Sep 23, 2011
Ricardo wrote:
I would take exception to calling a let when players shout words, phrases while playing a point. Anyone who does that is upping the ante to allow even more aggressive behavior being tolerated.
This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the shrieking during the serves which, in my opinion, is every bit as much a hindrance as the shriek during the point in question at the US Open. As much as I don't like it, umpires allow this behavior all the time. Despite this, I haven't noticed any escalation of aggressiveness because of it. That whole "slippery slope" argument just doesn't jibe with reality.

.
At least for me there is no race issue. Crude, rude language, gestures and the like by any player, male or female, besides being unprofessional, contributes nothing to the game, it detracts.
I have a hard time believing that race has no part in this for you. You say bad behavior by any player is unacceptable, however, the only time you comment on this is when Serena Williams is involved. If you truly are as fair-minded as you would have others believe, then why do you ignore equally obnoxious behavior when it occurs by other players, such as Sharapova, Federer, Roddick, Bartoli, Fish, etc.?

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This may be hard to police, but when you don't want your children to see it, think it is ok to imitate, hear some of the language, and see players insulting and trying to humiliate, even give veiled threats, then the authorities of that sport should address it.
Since you've decided to broaden the scope of this discussion beyond tennis, my second point on this subject is this:

Other sports like football, basketball, baseball, and soccer all enjoy much larger worldwide audiences than tennis. Much of the language and persona associated with those sports is MUCH harsher than tennis. If you are worried about your child imitating behavior that they see during a sporting event, then don't let them watch it. These sports (and this includes tennis) were not created and propagated to cater to our sensibilites. They are, clear and simply, entertainment. Or, better yet, "optional" entertainment. No one is forced to watch or engage in any of these pastimes.

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I remember from reading about the temper Borg had as a young man. His coach pulled him from tournaments for a significant period. Borg was a changed person after that. It shows what some tough love can do for the sport and more importantly for the person. Someone has to insist that the wealthy young players mature, get in control of themselves, it is not ok to be obnoxious brats.
For every player like Borg, there are a thousand more who NEVER make it as professional athletes. Quite often the missing ingredient is controlled agression. It's very difficult to come by, and to suggest that pulling players from competition to learn this is naive. That may have worked for Borg, but it won't for most.

Participating in top-level competition is how most athletes learn how to win against stiff competition. The only way to beat the best-of-the-best is through agression. At the highest levels, no one is going to give you a championship. You have to take it. Most coaches bend over backwards to invoke agressive behavior from their athletes to make this possible. Borg may have benefited by playing less to learn to control his emotions, but most athletes won't. For most of us, it's a learning process that's best served by repetition and instruction.

Can athletes go too far with their behavior? Sure. There is a reasonable limit to everything. The trick is finding the "reasonable" part of this limit without hurting the sport. Few of us want to watch a bunch of cardboard automatons just going through the motions during matches that could be compared to the excitement of watching paint dry. There has to be some middle ground and room to grow. It's already started. You can't put the genie back in the bottle...
Paul

Chelmsford, UK

#3 Sep 29, 2011
We need to remember what the likes of Mac Enroe, Connors and Nastase got away with, which was far worse than anything Serena ever did and did not generate 6 months-worth of headlines. Even the great Navratilova was known to argue with umpires. Serena was fined -which was fair enough- but what isn't fair is outright character assassination. We also need to put this in some kind of context: Serena Williams nearly died from a blood-clot less than a year ago. For her even to be walking again, let alone playing tennis at the highest level is some achievement. It is hardly surprising that she was more tense than usual in her first major final since her near-death experience. Imagine the emotions going through her head. So please, let's keep this in proportion.

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