- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Serena Williams Serves Tantrum, Scores for Identity Politics

Drama and literature at their best offer illustrative anecdotes—small stories that represents larger truths. The absurdist theater of the women’s U.S. Open tennis final, along with the mania it provoked, has become just such an anecdote. It illustrates the bleak assessment Edward Ward, my former philosophy professor and friend, once uttered over cheese sandwiches in the campus cafeteria: “We live in a society where we excuse the rules, and condemn their application.”

Indifference to behavioral regulations and standards of practice had become common to the point of banality, Ward argued, subjecting anyone who attempted to enforce the rules to vilification.

For those who do not closely follow professional tennis, here’s a review of the controversy. Serena Williams, undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the history of the game, was facing a rising superstar from Japan, Naomi Osaka. Williams is only one grand slam championship away from tying the all-time record, but has recently struggled to triumph over her younger opponents (most tennis players retire in their early to mid-thirties; Williams is 37). Osaka had already defeated Williams with ease at the Miami Open in March.

It appeared that the U.S. Open was headed for a repeat early in the match, with Osaka asserting swift dominance. Early in the first set, however, the linesman, Carlos Ramos, called a court violation on Williams’ coach because he was signaling her—an illegal activity in the sport of tennis. Rather than accept the warning, Williams unleashed a reality TV-style tirade on Ramos, excoriating him for “misreading” her coach’s hand gestures and making bizarre reference to her daughter: “I never cheat…I have a daughter, and I stand for what is right for her.”


(Immediately following the match, in a rare and refreshing moment of honesty, Williams’ coach admitted that he was signaling her the entire time, making Williams look both deceitful and foolish. Most post-match commentary has conveniently omitted the coach’s confession from the record.)

After Williams lost the opening set’s fifth game, she slammed her racket into the ground, causing its frame to bend. Intentional damage to a racquet is a code violation, and Ramos penalized her a point, the standard punishment for a second offense. Osaka quickly won the next game, making her the winner of the first set with a lopsided score of 6-2. (Editor’s Note: This article originally made the error of reporting that Serena Williams smashed her racquet during the first set. It actually happened during the second set of play.)

Williams then began screaming at Ramos, telling him that he was wrong to penalize her and protesting that the warning she received should not count as a violation because she was not cheating. Ramos sat silently as Williams ridiculed his performance as linesman and demanded that he apologize.

The second set advanced quickly with Osaka continuing to make fast work of Williams. During every break in play, Williams continued to badger Ramos, indicating that she would not stop until he announced over his microphone that he was sorry for what he did to her. He ignored her expressions of anger.

After Osaka pulled ahead 4-3, Williams again berated Ramos for his monstrous failures as a human being. Bringing her rant to a climax, she called him a “liar” and a “thief.”

To impugn the character of a linesman violates the code of conduct governing play in professional tennis. Ramos flagged her for the third time, issuing the penalty of a forfeited game, making the set score 5-3. Williams pleaded with supervising officials of the tournament—one man, one woman—to overturn Ramos’ calls, and they refused. She then made the contemptible claim that excited countless social media users and political commentators around the country: “I’ve seen men get away with his all the time. Just because I’m a woman, you are going to take this away from me.”

Osaka won the second set, 6-4, and in doing so, became the first Japanese champion of the U.S. Open. The audience loudly booed and jeered throughout the awards ceremony, and the commissioner of the U.S. Open disgraced herself by saying, on air and in front of the rightful champion, “This isn’t the end we were looking for.” Williams made an attempt to recover some dignity by instructing her vulgar fans to stop heckling, but the entire event had already transformed into an ugly American extravaganza. Most infuriating was that Osaka looked dejected, unable to enjoy her first grand slam victory.

The next day, USA Today ran an opinion piece with the headline “Sexism Cost Serena Williams Tennis Title.” Many other writers and TV analysts, none of whom seemed to know anything about tennis rules or history, began reciting from the same fatuous and phony script. A few have even tried to racialize the story, though given that Osaka’s father is Haitian, that narrative has failed to gain traction.

Acting as though Ramos were self-evidently a misogynist, most media mouthpieces ignored that throughout the U.S. Open, male players have been called for 86 violations and women only 22. Nine of the 10 largest fines in tennis history for on-court violations have gone to men. Ramos himself has earned the wrath of men’s champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer for making calls they felt were too rigid and punitive.

The mob has also compared Williams’ tantrum with the boorish imbecility of 1980s tennis stars John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. While it’s true that both players often acted with disrespect more reminiscent of barroom drunks than professional athletes, they also benefitted from terribly lenient regulations of professional tennis. The ATP did not standardize the rules or crack down on outlandish player conduct until the late 1980s. Not coincidentally, McEnroe was ejected from the 1990 Australian Open after his fourth violation in a single match.

And yet arguing about the rules and pointing to the score of the match—it is almost certain that Osaka would have won regardless—feels oddly archaic. Many of Williams’ desperate defenders are acting in emotional accordance with some strange, eschatological commitment to identity politics, and no amount of factual information will dissuade them. Another term my friend was fond of using was “biased apperception.” The critics who call Ramos sexist without giving him the opportunity to defend himself have adopted a position and are working backwards to validate it. To pull this off, they have no choice but to excuse the rules and condemn their application. There is no debate that Williams broke three different rules, yet the lineman is sexist because he chose to apply them.

Rebecca Traister, a leading feminist writer for New York, begins her boring and predictable interpretation of the events with the following admission (which negates all the subsequent sentences in her essay):

I don’t care much about the rules of tennis that Serena Williams was accused of violating at Saturday night’s U.S. Open final. Those rules were written for a game and for players who were not supposed to look or express themselves or play the game as beautifully and passionately as either Serena Williams or the young woman who eventually beat her, 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, do.

Overlooking Traister’s weird disparagement of every women’s champion who proceeded Williams and Osaka as ugly and impassive, and her incoherent grammar (how is a game supposed to “express themselves”?), it is revealing that she prefaces her entire argument by saying that rules do not matter if the right people did not author them. The crime is not the transgression, but the enforcement.

The “excuse the rules, condemn the application” mentality is a societal sickness responsible for much that troubles our body politic.

To begin with an example that will interest those who practice identity politics, President Donald Trump has thrived on condemning those who enforce the rules. Though he regularly demonstrates a daunting pattern of dishonesty, is an unnamed co-conspirator in a criminal indictment, has seen several of his associates indicted or convicted of crimes, and continually makes a mockery of decorum and etiquette, whenever he is caught in an act of wrongdoing, his immediate response is to spit a venomous stream of clichés: “fake news,” “deep state,” “witch hunt.”

Another example is the bailout of the big banks that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Few disagreed that the world’s major financial institutions violated the rules, but the idea of accountability was suddenly radical and unthinkable.

If a connection between corporate malfeasance, presidential malpractice, and a tennis champion’s childish outburst seems tenuous, consider that in all three cases the get-out-of-jail-free card is an appeal to ideology. Rules, we are asked to believe, are irrelevant, and even themselves infringements on belief systems like populism and feminism that are regarded as more important.

The self-involvement and extreme subjectivity necessary for such a destructive belief permeates into non-ideological aspects of culture. Grade inflation in higher education, as any instructor can attest, exists largely because students cannot fathom suffering consequences for lazy or mediocre work. The issuance of assignments and exams is fine, but to actually grade them according to an objective standard is evil.

America needs a serious dose of Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. One should act only in such a way that one would approve of everyone else acting in a given situation.

Writing for The New York Times, retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova wisely states, “We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with. In fact, this is the sort of behavior that no one should be engaging in on the court. There have been many times when I was playing that I wanted to break my racket into a thousand pieces. Then I thought about the kids watching. And I grudgingly held on to that racket.”

Obvious to anyone but the willfully ignorant, this is a far better formula for a healthy society than “I don’t care about the rules.”

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour [1] (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man [2] (Eyewear Publishing).

47 Comments (Open | Close)

47 Comments To "Serena Williams Serves Tantrum, Scores for Identity Politics"

#1 Comment By Roger On September 13, 2018 @ 11:01 pm

One correction: Ramos was the umpire, not a linesman.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On September 13, 2018 @ 11:26 pm

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) released the following statement relating to umpiring decisions during the 2018 US Open Women’s final:

“Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr. Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offences. It is understandable that this high profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr. Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”

“The Grand Slam Rule Book can be found here. Player on site offences including the point penalty schedule used in this instance can be found in Article III.”



#3 Comment By Slugger On September 14, 2018 @ 1:53 am

A jock yells at the ref, and it is the same as the 2008 bank bailouts? Seems slightly hyperbolic. I am not approving bad sportsmanship, but it isn’t of cosmic import.
BTW, Osaka holds American citizenship, has lived in the USA since age three, and barely speaks Japanese. I am proud to call her a fellow American.

#4 Comment By FJR Atlanta On September 14, 2018 @ 7:47 am

To use the behavior of Connors and McEnroe in the 70’s and 80’s as justification for behavior today, then surely the more prevelant sexual misconduct by men during that time period is also acceptable today. Both were wrong then and now. I’m glad to see we’re less tolerant. On a number of accounts, Serena did a disservice to women and #metoo.

#5 Comment By Sean On September 14, 2018 @ 8:35 am

How male players fare in rule enforcement isn’t relevant. Women play women; how consistent is enforcement in that arena?

#6 Comment By connecticut farmer On September 14, 2018 @ 8:49 am

Good article but…Martina’s comment at the end, distilled within one paragraph, says it all.

#7 Comment By DennisW On September 14, 2018 @ 10:28 am

Your timeline is confused – all of the code violations came in the second set, not the first (which Serena lost badly, but without incident, 6-2).

Also, Katrina Adams is the President and Chairman of the Board of the USTA, not the “Commissioner of the US Open” (a position which does not exist).

Otherwise, spot on in analysis. The attempts by Serena and the sycophantic media who worship her to turn this into an issue of sexism and racism are absurd. Following some of the European media response, is enlightening. Across the board, they are much less worshipful of Serena and her behavior, and less prone to descend into identity politics. Some players are finally starting to have the courage to go public in calling BS on Serena’s behavior (and the USA and WTA responses) too.

Any other player would have responded to the coaching violation with a shrug – perhaps offered a half-hearted defense to the umpire, then moved on. Serena immediately treated the first code violation as a personal attack on her character and integrity (then proceeded to actually defame the character and integrity of the umpire, calling him a liar and thief). I also think there was a bit of gamesmanship there – Serena hoping the melodrama and chaos would rattle her less experienced opponent and allow her to mount a comeback. Ironically, it was Serena’s response to the various code violations that demonstrated her true character – that of a petulant, self-entitled, self-righteous bully.

#8 Comment By DH On September 14, 2018 @ 10:53 am

I’m sorry for those who don’t agree, but this is simply a true diagnosis of a societal malaise.

I would even take ’08 back a step further; a number of the subprime loans existed precisely because the traditional rules of making bad loans themselves had been suspended. At least some of this was done in response to racial or economic concerns, but the majority was done in greed.

There is something to be said about the juvenilization of society. It’s not a racial problem. It’s a “Me, Myself, and I” issue!

#9 Comment By Phillip On September 14, 2018 @ 11:05 am

Serena Williams has a long history of bad behavior on tennis courts. [4]

A cursory search of YouTube will show you that.

#10 Comment By WorkingClass On September 14, 2018 @ 11:31 am

To begin with an example that will interest those who practice identity politics, President Donald Trump has thrived on condemning those who enforce the rules. Though he regularly demonstrates a daunting pattern of dishonesty, is an unnamed co-conspirator in a criminal indictment, has seen several of his associates indicted or convicted of crimes, and continually makes a mockery of decorum and etiquette, whenever he is caught in an act of wrongdoing, his immediate response is to spit a venomous stream of clichés: “fake news,” “deep state,” “witch hunt.”

Talk about boring and predictable. Y’all Never Trumpers are totally irrelevant. Nobody will vote for you. Who was your candidate? Bush? Rubio?

#11 Comment By mvictor On September 14, 2018 @ 11:53 am

Holy cow! Did you even watch the match? The entire series of events took place in the second set. The match simply didn’t go down the way it’s represented here. This reporting is garbled and bizarre, thus diminishing whatever larger argument the author is trying to make. Where are the editors? This is not a low end website. Inexplicable. I recommend readers go to any number of websites to understand how this all played out.

#12 Comment By DennisW On September 14, 2018 @ 12:12 pm

Funny how simple corrective comments get “disappeared”.

Yet, the article still erroneously identifies all of Williams’ code violations as having occurred in the first set (They didn’t. All were in the second set, after Williams had lost the first set without incident, 6-2).

And the President and Chairman of the Board of the USTA is still identified as the “Commissioner of the US Open” (a position which does not exist).

Such basic mistakes of fact make one wonder how closely the author himself actually watched the final or follows tennis in general.

#13 Comment By Youknowho On September 14, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

So a jock disses an umpire….

Big, fat, hairy news

Her fans back her. That’s what fans are for.

Jocks have fans, umpires do not…. why is anyone surprised about the reaction?

#14 Comment By Scott On September 14, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

Correction: Fifth game of the second set. Good piece. The hagiography around Serena is so over the top compared to anything bestowed on any player in any sport before. That surely puts some added pressure on her, in addition to perhaps making her feel she can get away with anything.

#15 Comment By Stephen Pickard On September 14, 2018 @ 12:37 pm

First off,It is always problematic to compare politics to sports. Just should not be done. Also it is too glib to draw broader societal parallels from sports to general values. Professional sports it a different category of endeavors than other sports where the profit motive is absent. There is much history with the Williams sisters in the tennis world to go into here. It has not been pretty. There are many pressures on Serena than the author not delve into. Many if not all women champions have come to her defense. That says something in her favor. There is no identity politics in this issue. It is a sporting event involving professional players. Next issue that is worthy of having a temper tantrum over.

#16 Comment By Daniel Baker On September 14, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

I am again impressed by David Masciotra, the best writer The American Conservative is regularly featuring. I am definitely going to have to make time to read his book on Obama.

I question (without rejecting) the general statement that “We excuse the rules and condemn their application.” Would it be more accurate to say that we excuse some rules and not others? The opinion leaders, or cultural elite, or whatever you want to call them, certainly don’t seem to be excusing the rules against rape or sexual harassment, and many of them have dictated new rules on our language: gendered pronouns dictated by the preference of the person we’re speaking about rather than the person’s body, or the “N-word” made a blasphemy to the extent that a white person can be condemned simply for reading aloud Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” exactly as he wrote it, to say nothing of singing along with a rap song. But are these truly “rules?” Not in the sense of applying to everybody, at least in the last two cases. And even in the other cases, these “rules” seem to have a fluidity and instability characteristic of a “government of men” rather than a “government of laws.” So perhaps Ward was on to something.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 14, 2018 @ 1:24 pm

One good point is that Williams and Osaka greeted each other with impeccable sportsmanship after the game. Williams was probably wrong, but, there is also good evidence that male players have gotten away with worse affronts to refs or umpires, so the charge of sexism is not without some merit. Its refreshing that there hasn’t been much headway charging racism was a factor.

If the referees would acknowledge that there is a history of letting “boys be boys” and pledge to hold male players to the same standards imposed in the Osaka-Williams match, it would go a long way to settling the tumult. There is a reasonable suspicion that the referee may, deep down, have felt “No WOMAN is going to speak to ME that way.” Its also possible that Ramos was simply doing the right thing, and it contrasted sharply with what other refs have allowed in the past — mostly with men.

#18 Comment By Josep On September 14, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

Wasn’t there also a hubbub about Mark Knight’s comic depicting Serena Williams’ tantrum?

#19 Comment By Ed On September 14, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

So condemn her then. Only don’t get on your own soapbox about identity politics and race.

This is about a generation that grew up with tennis stars’ temper tantrums witnessing once again what the game has become and wondering why Williams’s outburst becomes a cause celebre all of a sudden.

This is about Americans rooting for an American and wanting her to win. Maybe the fact that Williams is African-American makes the more politically correct among us feel less nativist about rooting for the home team, but I suspect nationalism or ethnocentrism may be more of a factor than race in the response to what happened.

#20 Comment By Fayez Abedaziz On September 14, 2018 @ 3:07 pm

Hello, how ya doin’?
May and can we kindly ask the media, the government, the people at sports games to refrain from politics and ideology at those games?
With all the places one may voice/demonstrate their views, why in the world do you do it at games?
And…the media just keeps touting these people as smart and right.
Well, look at all the hoopla, what we are getting is continued emphasis on dividing races, religions and so on.
Listen, citizens, celebrities and fans:
it’s a damn sport game, we didn’t come here or watch on the boob tube, a game to see politics… and… just go and voice your opinion on the shallow “let’s keep divisions among Americans going” media. Just think, instead of harmony among Americans, we keep seeing identity politics and, well, that is not what we were believing in when we said, years ago, respect and equality for all.
And, I was right there in and into the so-called liberal movements, so to speak, in the mid-to late 60’s.
Know what I mean..? Dig it

#21 Comment By Martin Gomez On September 14, 2018 @ 10:22 pm

I follow tennis and am not a feminist. There were two things the ump should have done. First, everyone knows that all players in tennis are getting coached. If ump was going to call it, he should have warned both players and coaches before the match.
Second, when Serena was mouthing off during the changeover, he should have told her: “you’ve made your point, one more insult and you’re going to get a penalty” and then, just ignore her. If she keeps it up then you dick her.
As for Serena, she is a brand. Which is why she blew up for being caught cheating. It was more important for her to defend her image than to win the match

#22 Comment By wolfe sharp On September 15, 2018 @ 3:00 am

It is well past time for Serena Williams to realize she has done tennis and herself a great disservice. The hallmark of a responsible adult is acknowledgement of fault when tempers cool. Williams has been a great tennis player and may yet reach even greater heights in accomplishing her ambitions. But there are such things as honesty and integrity. Her abuse of the umpire was simply wrong.

#23 Comment By RenoDino On September 15, 2018 @ 9:13 am

Women’s Tennis Association Statement on the Match:
“[Saturday] also brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches. The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done [Saturday] night.”

So according to the WTA, Serena got a raw deal. Their biggest star was a victim of sexism. They are speaking on behalf of all the women professionals who play the sport. One must surmise from this statement, that a woman chair umpire would have never done what Ramos did. It sounds like he was the one who should have been penalized and fined for the enforcing some arbitrary rules. Not only is this a slap in the face to Ramos, it makes the even enforcement of any rules impossible because there are always extenuating circumstances.

#24 Comment By Kalmia On September 15, 2018 @ 9:17 am

Serena Williams is not unusual in being a world-class athlete/competitor who is also a very very bad loser. Her behavior wasn’t that unusual and the punishment in the game was appropriate, it should have ended with that. In my view, it’s the crowd and her supporters who are the real villains here for letting their bias towards her (and identity politics) warp their sense of justice and fairness. Poor Osaka deserved much better than the booing and rash of hot takes.

#25 Comment By Scott On September 15, 2018 @ 9:32 am

This would be a better piece if it got the chronology of the match, and Serena’s meltdowns, right.

#26 Comment By Uncle Billy On September 15, 2018 @ 9:38 am

Athletes and coaches need to control themselves. Temper tantrums are ugly and should not be acceptable for both men and women. Williams was way out of line. She seemed to lose control of herself for several minutes. It’s a shame for her to tarnish her image in the twilight of her great career.

#27 Comment By Rat On September 15, 2018 @ 10:40 am

You omitted the other part of the interview with her coach. They were given the code violation, leading to later point & game penalties, for something that many players and coaches have been getting away with.

Why did the judge decide that the final was the time to start applying an otherwise-ignored rule? Sure, it would have been preferable for her to keep her cool, but it’s understandable why Williams was livid.

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 15, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

I would love to be on this band wagon. Sure violating the social norm is always frowned upon — well not always — laugh. Sometimes a good outburst is just the thing. But we all know that blacks are less entitled to these than others,.

When tennis was at its peak, and I think that time has passed, the number of professionals who exhibited less than appropriate behaviors would be too numerous to count. And while, I am not sure anyone was fined more than John McEnroe, little social cause was made of his challenges to judges, the press, and fans alike. he was considered a maverick — in the most positive sense of the word. Sure he was chastised, but all in all, there was little suggestion that the walls of social normative behavior were at risk.

I find it interesting, that the photo you chose is the photo of her intense response to a winning point — that aggressive “zulu” images we all love to align our nations darker hued citizens — There was another photo, the one in which she intervenes with the spectator’s discouraging them from booing the winner and extending a the graciousness we expect in competitive vents — apparently no small number of the viewers thought she was shrifted as well — But Miss Williams to her credit intervened and openly made clear the winner was the winner and should be honored as such.

As for Miss Navaratolova, she is still as sweet as ever — and a looker to boot (ever a sucker for women with legs). As a stellar player who knows those pressures, her comments are well placed – and in keeping with our general sense of the sportsmanship. But these are comments that reflect her attitude of herself as well as any player now or then.

As a huge fan of Kant’s moral imperative(s) I think the author is correct, we could all use more of him in us. But then we could all use more christ in us.

Unlike the Wall Street, the financial community and the political enablers and inside traders roaming the halls of Congress, Miss Williams was fined and the penalties as with Mr. McEnroe have been assessed and our prisons are filled with those who dared not show stately reverence to the police without even denting the law . . . most of them the hue of Miss Williams. Well, fortunately Miss Williams is now or has been for some time —

Mrs. Ohanian (Serena Williams) There’s no taking away the reality that the Williams sisters rejuvenated the sport of Tennis for many years.

Sadly for the sport, they so dominated that no consistent rivals have lasted to keep the sport sparked as in the days of McEnroe, Martina, King, Borg, Everet, and myriad of others

I still enjoy tennis, but miss the days in which there were multiple rivalries every bit as intense every tournament.

But as great a game tennis — it is not the harbinger of the end of civility and neither is Mrs. Ohanian (Serena Williams).

#29 Comment By Mr. Morningstar On September 15, 2018 @ 4:16 pm

The rules have been excused for certain people for a long time. An uppity black woman made the mistake of assuming her stature in the sport made her one of them. I’m curious to see if the tennis world’s newfound respect for the sanctity of the game and it’s rules will finally extend to those certain people.

#30 Comment By Jeeves On September 15, 2018 @ 4:36 pm

Rat: Williams was livid because she was getting her tutu kicked all over the court. Desperate and depraved gamesmanship was all it was.

Although you’d never know it from the terrible reporting in this article, following the game-penalty imposed by Ramos, Osaka intentionally gave Serena the next game by missing returns of Serena’s serve–I suppose hoping to calm down the woman who was her tennis idol growing up. It didn’t work, though, because Serena was unappeased–and outplayed. (To top it off, the stupid TV commentators wanted to give Serena kudos for her quieting of her booing fans at the awards presentation. No-class athlete, no-class fans.)

#31 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 15, 2018 @ 5:27 pm


And we still love McEnroe


Fewer gracious great players than Arthur Ashe or Althea Gibson

#32 Comment By Youknowho On September 15, 2018 @ 6:35 pm

The author must live a very sheltered life to be shocked at the abuse of umpires.

Of course, it is not the athletes who are the worst offenders, but the fans – and they can be NASTY.

And if there are bets involved, well, it can get nuclear.

I remember in Argentina, back in the fifties when a soccer match against England was lost due to a foul declared by the umpire.

There were angry editorials all over the place, calling the umpire a rat an worse. For several months.

After that, a short temper tantrum by an athlete is small potatos

#33 Comment By MikeS On September 15, 2018 @ 7:19 pm

What is interesting to me is not SW’s poor sportsmanship, which is now expected, but how the leftist media circle the wagons to defend her behavior because SW is female, black, etc etc. The cleverer minorities understand that they can engage in bad behavior and the white leftist power structure will wink or be vocally supportive; so they act accordingly. An extreme (or is it now normal?) example, reported on TAC, is how Muslims in England enslave white girls, and the PC police do nothing.

#34 Comment By Sisera On September 15, 2018 @ 10:16 pm


Agreed & isn’t it funny how in the world of many centrist ‘apologist’ types, fighting back against identity politics, entitlement of elites, etc. is in and of itself identity politics?

I mean it’s like the grade school insult of ‘I know you are but what am I’….and many (albeit not this author) say it with all the smugness and gotchaness in the world.

They adhere to identity politics and have no self awareness and hence can’t recognize it.

#35 Comment By Dan On September 15, 2018 @ 11:00 pm

“BTW, Osaka holds American citizenship, has lived in the USA since age three, and barely speaks Japanese. I am proud to call her a fellow American.”

Fascinating. What if she held American citizenship, was in the U.S. since age 12, and spoke pretty good Japanese?

Anyway, I imagine she’s flattered that she makes you proud.

Pride, incidentally, comes before the fall.

#36 Comment By Ivo Olavo Castro da Silva On September 16, 2018 @ 12:31 am

The fact that Serena’s fans and the media supported her disgusting actions only confirm their total absence of any moral standard.

#37 Comment By Tennis Fan On September 16, 2018 @ 10:05 am

In response to “Rat says…Why did the judge decide that the final was the time to start applying an otherwise-ignored rule? Sure, it would have been preferable for her to keep her cool, but it’s understandable why Williams was livid.”

It may be that coaches get away with coaching quite often, however, IMHO the umpire happened to actually catch the coach right in the act of coaching (and if you see the video of the supposed incident, her coach, Patrick, actually gives two head-nods in that very brief moment and to me, the head-nods acknowledge that they made eye contact-my personal opinion only). The umpire immediately decided to call it out and give the point penalty to Serena. Who knows, maybe in that very moment, he felt it wasn’t fair for her to be getting coaching, he actually caught the coaching, and his gut instinct was to make the call on it. I don’t fault the umpire one bit. Had Serena accepted the call and moved on, the entire tide of the match may have taken a different turn.

#38 Comment By Gyre On September 16, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

Any adult who throws a temper tantrum in public (for any reason), and then attempts to justify it by pointing to other’s bad conduct is just a weak and contemptible ‘low-life’ in my book.

#39 Comment By bbkingfish On September 16, 2018 @ 4:49 pm

Youknowho asks:

“Jocks have fans, umpires do not…. why is anyone surprised about the reaction?”

You are correct. Obviously so.

But, it merits editorial emphasis in this publication because Serena Williams is African-American. “Identity politics” donchaknow?

It strikes me as similar as the fascination with the case of Colin Kaepernick vs the lily-white ownership of the NFL. American sympathies usually lie with the underdog in these sort of lopsided disputes, but not in the pages of TAC.

BTW, what can “identity politics” possibly mean, anyway, when the constituency of one of the two parties is 90% one (majority) race, and its leadership is nearly 100%?

And the other party’s voters are 40% of the majority race, and large majorities of literally every other group in the country, and that mix is reflected in its political leadership?

It seems about every third article in this publication presents the reader with this head-scratcher.

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 16, 2018 @ 9:12 pm

One nearly universal constant in the world is that fans who are really excited about a sport or a team or a player will get irrationally livid and support him or her or them, my team, right or wrong, loudly and intemperately. While this may be no better, its no worse, and its part of the scene. The reason children are constantly being taught about sportsmanship is that its hard to keep human beings within the bounds of decency.

#41 Comment By Brooklyn Grange On September 16, 2018 @ 10:10 pm

You actually brought Donald Trump into a discussion of tennis rules and behavior? Bravo to you for being paid to write in spite of your lack of imagination!

I recommend a rule limiting the commentariat to three lifetime mentions of Donald Trump in any writing or spoken word work not directly related to Donald Trump.

1) Serena Williams coach broke a rule banning coaching during matches and admitted to breaking the rule on that occasion and on a regular basis;
2) Serena lied to the umpire about the fact the she and her coach regularly break that rule;
3) Serena went on to break another by smashing her racket;
4) Serena badger the umpire repeatedly for penalizing her for breaking the rule her coach admitted he had broken;
5) Serena grossly misstated the FACTS about rule enforcement in professional tennis when she asserted that she’d been penalized when men routinely are not and accused the umpire of sexism.

There’s more to list here, but, frankly, Serena’s behavior and performance were so grotesquely out of line – and her heartless, hubrist and vain theft of Osaka’s clear victory and achievement so tragic – that I’m going to stop.

There is nothing to debate here. Nothing.

Even the progressives’ favorite, shameless exploiter of identity politics – The New York Times – isn’t trying to hide from the facts:

#42 Comment By Tick Tock On September 17, 2018 @ 11:38 am

Well, lets see. Hillary no rules, just right. Hmm!! Reality check, who gives a $’–t about any of this? Just fighting about which side of the toilet the American turd will be on when it disappears from view. The handle was pushed years ago and the train has left the station. There are much more important issue at hand besides penises and vaginas, skin color etc. But stupidity is King and that is why so called sexism and racism are of prime importance today. Diversions created by master manipulators or just a society too stupid for its own good and incapable of funtioning.

#43 Comment By Karen Williams On September 17, 2018 @ 1:27 pm

I couldn’t read the rest of this after seeing how it conveniently omitted the rest of what Serena’s coach said when he admitting having tried to signal her.

HE SAID OSAKA’S COACHES WERE DOING THE SAME THING DURING THIS SAME MATCH, and had not been called on it. He also said this signaling is done all the time by all the coaches. And finally, he said that he felt fairly sure Serena had not noticed his attempt to signal her.

As I said, I can’t comment on the rest of this because I stopped reading it fairly early on.

#44 Comment By JS On September 17, 2018 @ 6:57 pm

Third wave feminists have been encouraging women in general to be increasingly crude and aggressive in a misplaced move toward “equality”. They encourage women to be fat, lazy, slovenly, drunken, profane, and angry over trifles. Any attempt to encourage women to have self-discipline, set a good example, and better themselves is viewed as sexist and demeaning and a huge step backward. So it is not surprising they are livid over any censure of Serena and are calling it sexist and racist (I have only seen outcry over an Australian comic appearing racist for mocking her temper tantrum).

#45 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 17, 2018 @ 8:12 pm


Because it is a well known practice amongst coaches — I avoided the politics engaged on that score to focus on the issue of civility and the rules governing decorum.

“There’s more to list here, but, frankly, Serena’s behavior and performance were so grotesquely out of line – and her heartless, hubrist and vain theft of Osaka’s clear victory and achievement so tragic – that I’m going to stop.”

Ohh good grief given the sports history, there’s no need to fear the end of civilized exchanged on account. The real damage is demonstrated in the violations that resulted in millions losing hearth and home. That our political class seems ignorant of the decorum regarding “avoiding the appearance of . . .” evil, impropriety, that the financial and business community enforces rules they themselves loophole or ignore completely. That millions of people arrive here illegally and the political and business classes embrace their arrival and their maintenance even as it away at the very fabric of the nation’s idenity and respources of the citizens for which the nation was founded . . /

juxtaposed against angry athletes protesting points —

I would say the greater violation of the rules is not in tennis players getting the signal to use their backhand to the upper left quadrant of the court.

#46 Comment By Youknowho On September 18, 2018 @ 11:48 am

I cannot help but recall Mike Royko’s (may his tribe flourish) comment about Jimmy Connors being criticized for unsportmanslike conduct.

He said that for truly unsportsmanlike conduct we should look to the English soccer fans, which had to be frisked before matches for weapons.

Yes, it gets that intense. And sports are the occasion of real bad behavior from players AND fans.

To use this barely contained savagery to make political points is ridiculous. English sports fans committed assault long before Hillary ran for anything.

#47 Comment By Ray Woodcock On January 9, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

I completely agree and disagree with this article. Because that’s how it works with

Consider: if the rules were properly enforced, courts would work, and there would
be no need for the end run of social justice. People ‐‐ black or white, poor or
rich ‐‐ would go to court and get real justice. Except that the courts don’t work
precisely because they are so bound up in trying to enforce the rules and their
endlessly growing permutations and exceptions ‐‐ and it’s hard to cut through all that without a result more awful than anarchy.

But I disagree with all that because this is only tennis, and the rules (I’m told)
just aren’t that complicated. Which doesn’t satisfy some because they’ve correctly
recognized that rules tend to be corrupt generally. They’re right: it often is
advisable to disregard the verbiage and look at the racial realities. Which, in
this case, would raise an issue that seems to be influencing many commentators, and
yet is rarely stated with the perfect frankness it deserves.

Maybe the real point of this article is not rules but, rather, fairness. Regardless
of whether you use rules or ignore rules, you may still have to choose a priority,
and for best results that should be equality, not identity. Because, as the
previous paragraph suggests, the latter can turn around and bite you.

But I don’t know that I’d make a rule of it. A custom or a practice, perhaps. A
mode of courtesy. But maybe not a rule.