HermannM

Desperate Housewives

In Business, Interesting, Marketing, New York, Sports on September 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm

"I feel like shoving this ball down your fuckin' throat!"

Serena Williams using a tennis prop to express herself

Amidst a lot of hullabaloo, Kim Cleijsters won the US Open; why hasn’t anyone congratulated her? The weekend headline should have been about the triumph of a first time mother who returns to the workforce and regains championship form. Her achievement should be a celebration for all women who struggle to balance family and career. Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and CafeMom should be lining up to sign her to an endorsement deal. But that is not likely to happen. Instead, we are left to read about a superstar athlete who lost her cool after finding herself on the wrong side of an unjust penalty.  The following is my post-mortem on an unfortunate incident that ended terribly wrong. Or did it?

Was Serena wronged?

Yes, in fact the line judge who so ineptly called a foot foul should have been issued a lifetime ban from the USTA.  She is not fit to judge a dog contest much less a world class tennis match. Good riddance.

Was Serena right to argue the call?

Yes. At her level, she has the right to expect decency from the officiating crew. She is not a novice to the game. Bad calls impact performance which in turn impact endorsement negotiations. As the highest grossing female athlete in history, she has the right to protect her earning potential from the squintingly lack of attention afforded the line judge.

Should Serena have used profanity in lodging her complaint?

It’s debatable. John McEnroe was extremely effective in using profanity to call attention to judicial indiscretions that might otherwise have been swept under the rug. His antics have also set the tone for an illustrious career after tennis. On the other hand, her choice of words were vulgar and unbecoming;  I would have preferred for Serena to responded differently when playing the sport of kings in the county of Queens.

Was the USTA right to fine her?

Absolutely! In fact, the $10,500 fine may not have been enough.

Should we still be talking about it?

Again it’s debatable. Serena Williams is extremely popular among young girls and her actions matter. It is interesting that on the same weekend that Serena stood up for judicial fairness, Peggy Olson’s character on “Mad Men” walked into Don Draper’s office to demand equal pay. By design or circumstance, we may be witnessing next wave of the women’s movement as confident women exercise their deserved authority.

In New York alone, the oft maligned candidate for the office of Manhattan District Attorney, Leslie Crocker Snyder (left, with husband Fred), is on the eve of taking the top job in law enforcement. Running in the same Democratic primary, Melinda (“I told him to stick it”) Katz (below) may very well win the nomination to become the city’s next chief financial officer. However attractive we may find them, their looks do not define them. Both women have abandoned a Betty Boop approach in favor of a confident presence, fact-based analysis and decisive actions to define their careers. In a country that failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, women are taking matters into their own hands with neither apology nor reservation. Could Serena’s assertiveness be viewed in a similar light?

There has been talk of further sanctions against Serena and if that occurs, it will only reflect a failure of our compassion for someone who made a mistake. In all, many mistakes were made. But the only real loser was the quiet woman who showed up, did her job and won the match. For this, Kim, we should all be sincerely sorry.

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  1. […] https://professorherm.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/desperate-housewives/Desperate Housewives. In Interesting on September 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm. “I feel like shoving this ball down your fuckin’ throat!” Serena Williams using a tennis prop to express herself. Amidst a lot of hullabaloo, Kim Cleijsters won the … […]

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