“I swear to God, I’ll f–king take this ball and shove it down your f–king throat!.” — Serena Williams before a national and international TV audience to lineswoman Shino Tsurubuchi during the 2009 U.S. Open.
Well, we media folks have done it again. We’ve taken indisputable, recurring and conspicuous facts and buried them to create a sustainable fiction in service to nervous, cautious lies.
It’s known as the Tiger Woods Media Pandering Syndrome. It’s not enough that Woods and Serena Williams were superior in their sports, among the all-time best. To that, unfiltered nonsense had to be infused:
They were the most noble to have ever played. Their unparalleled goodness may never be surpassed. They were the most extraordinarily positive influences, role models, humanitarians, offspring, spouses, parents and selfless crusaders who have touched our otherwise miserable, desperate souls.
This week, Coast to Coast and via all form of media, Williams was crowned as more than a world championship tennis player. She is a woman of extraordinary valor and class.
Doesn’t matter how much evidence to the contrary, and there’s plenty. It was wishful, ignorant, obligatory and unnecessary rubbish. Or is the Tiger Woods Impaired Driving Academy and the Serena Williams Charm School coming to a strip mall near you?
Tennis may never again be “graced” by a woman who was such a relentlessly rotten winner and worse loser. She, and only she, was the reason she won or lost. If she extended credit to an opponent it was heard as insincere, brief, parenthetical and culled.
Was it mere coincidence that many in attendance at Williams’ second-round win, Wednesday, felt entitled to boorish, bully behavior in support of Williams, cheering opponent Anett Kontaveit’s errors including double faults?
During and after the match, judging from her silence, Williams, media personification of the sportswoman, was good with that.
Williams’ livid, wild-eyed tantrum at the chair ump during the 2018 Open — he’d detected she was cheating, which she denied, via signals from a coach before she shouted, among other things, “You’re a thief!” — was also cheered by the obnoxious.
Williams later dubiously excused herself by explaining her behavior as an attempt to strike a blow for women’s rights.
Sure enough, selectively blind and deaf media lined up to buy that “social activism” fiction. As always, she threw a fit on her own behalf, only.
The woman whose rights were trampled that day was newcomer Naomi Osaka, left in tears for the audacity to have beaten Williams in the final, as U.S. Open chair Katrina Adams took the court microphone to declare disappointment for all in the outcome as Williams will always be her and our champion.
Adams, a black woman, later amended her claim to explain she was “thrilled” to be standing on the podium with “two women of color.” The head of the U.S. Open held an admitted bias based on race rather than tennis.
Even Williams’ last go at Wimbledon, this summer, was tethered to reports of excessive self-entitlement. Wimbledon held a Centenary Celebration marking 100 years of its Centre Court. Past champs, including injured Roger Federer, flew in.
Williams blew it off. According to UK media, she was miffed that the five luxury courtesy cars she and her entourage requested and were provided, were expected to be returned the day after a player is eliminated. House rules.
After losing in the first round, claimed the reports, Wimbledon refused her request to hang on to the cars for the duration of the tournament. So Williams bolted, to hell with that ceremony and Wimbledon.
Weeks later in Cincinnati, ticket-buyers lured by a last live look at Williams, were treated to her recurring gracious side. Crushed in the first round, she bolted, refusing a farewell to the crowd on the court microphone then refusing to attend a post-match media session.
As for that vulgar, threatening 2009 episode with that Open lineswoman, she actually continued to verbally abuse her as she apparently correctly concluded that there was no way anyone would have the temerity to disqualify her for such abhorrently low conduct.
Or would the No. 30-seed have been granted such an indulgence?
Afterwards, she was incensed by the mere suggestion that she owed that lineswoman an apology: “An apology? From me? Well, how many people yell at linespeople?” Yeah, hers was standard tennis behavior.
She later claimed she apologized.
The recent movie “King Richard,” a varnished tale of the Williams Sisters’ often unhinged and bigoted father and mentor — Serena was its executive producer — this year won for Will Smith the Academy Award for Best Actor. Yet, it has been a colossal box office bust.
Reasons given: the COVID pandemic and its streaming on HBO Max.
Reasons not given is that the discerning public has grown sick of the Williams Family’s act, tired of advertisers and media shoving Serena down our better senses as someone we all love and admire.
This week, ESPN’s lead Open voices, Chris Fowler, John McEnroe, and Chris Evert, swapped obsequious, all-glory-to-Serena sonnets — artificially sweetened fairytales. Both having witnessed much of Williams’ excessive misconduct there is nothing better to conclude than that their commentary was transparently and intentionally dishonest.
Tiger Woods Pandering Media Syndrome. Don’t believe what you see and know, believe what you’re told to believe. Some truths are none of your business.
Old-Timers’ Days show what teams think of their fans
The combined nickel-and-dime forces of Rob Manfred, Hal Steinbrenner and Yankees president Randy Levine have combined to turn West Coast, exclusively streamed Yankee games into next-day rumors. Tuesday’s Yanks-Angels may as well have been played on the Island of Hoo-Hah.
But since new Yankee Stadium opened 12 years ago, much about the Yankees — ticket-pricing, 45 bucks to park, food and drink costs, conspicuously empty good seats — have created the aura of a clip joint.
Consider the great show the Mets staged for Saturday’s Old-Timers’ Day, compared to this season’s on-the-cheap Yankees’ version.
The Little League World Series as presented by ESPN is annually loaded with wonder beyond the necessity for a home run derby and the mindless celebrations of immodest behavior among 12-year-olds.
Yet again, this year, ESPN attached a microphone to a non-English speaking coach while providing no interpreter.
Sunday, as the coach of Curacao came to the mound to try to stop the bleeding against Hawaii, he was fully heard saying something, most likely in Papiamentu: a Creole blend of African, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and Arawak Indian spoken in Curacao.
How do you say, “Here, wear this microphone” in Papiamentu?
Then there’s Jessica Mendoza, the still-untreated baseball blabbermouth — “A blabbermouth, Alice!” — who inspires dangerous human dashes for the mute button.
Though lately starved for pitching, Aaron Boone still chooses to try to avert disasters by inviting them.
Saturday in Oakland, Domingo German was this good: 7 ²/₃ innings, three hits allowed, no walks and striking out five on 79 pitches in a 0-0 game.
Boone had seen enough! Out came German! The Yanks lost, 3-2, in 11.
Well, the Manning Clan is back in TV ads to take their cut of suckering young men into losing their money betting on sports. What champs!
Reader Alfred Masi asks if Pete Alonso’s recent over-the-knee bat-breaking indicates his desire to be a lumberjack. Either that or he’s part of a splinter group.
Things I ask myself while watching TV: When a receiver returns to the huddle, does he tell the QB, “I was open”? Or does he say, “I was alone in space”?