Considering the occasional theatrics of Richard Williams, I'd admit that there was a time I thought he blew the incident at Indian Wells in 2001 out of proportion. Not that he was lying, but maybe that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. There are a lot of people who might have thought that no one actually says those types of racist things "anymore." Over the years, I've realized that people do say those things, and they probably did that day at that tournament. So Serena Williams' decision to go back there makes her a lot stronger than I already thought she was.
Of course, at first, I was like, "Whatnow? Whaaa??" She said she'd never go back, right? Why go back?
Two reasons, and I'm speculating:
1. Because she'll probably win the thing, and that would really piss off the racist element. I mean, let's not forget she won the tournament that year with those dimwits in the stands.
2. So there's this part of the Lion King where Mufasa is showing Simba their kingdom, but then shows him a part that's way out and shrouded in darkness. Mufasa basically says to Simba, "Everything else is yours, except that shadowy place. You must never go there."
Yeah, I busted out the Lion King on you. But there's a point. See, maybe Indian Wells is that part of the kingdom for Serena, and maybe she's enough of a rebel to say, "Well, really, what could be there now that could hurt me?" That is basically her home tournament. If there's anyone who should feel out of place when they go there, it should be the idiots who shouted at her and her family in the stands.
If Venus never goes back, as she has also said, that's understandable, and her world, and her call. But Simba's, er, Serena's move, is pretty bad-ass.
Monday, February 02, 2015
I am sorry, but it's difficult to be a tennis fan during the Aussie Open and a normally functioning adult. I mean, here's Madison Keys mixing it up with Venus Williams, and my kid needs a new diaper. Come on! Change yourself, kid! And then there's the finals happening at 3 a.m. my time. And then my boss wants me at work before 1 p.m.! Outrageous!
As it turns out, I'm still employed and my kids and spouse are still around (I think). What's left? Coupla thoughts:
1. It took this tournament for me to figure out why I root for Venus Williams. She was at the helm of women's tennis when I first became a real fan. And then when there's someone who looks like you doing something that no one who looks like you really ever did before, there's an emotional thing there. When she would lose, it was like, "How could you?" for me back in the day. Seeing her decline over the years made me over-correct the other way -- "She's got nothing." But deep down, you don't want to believe that. You still hold out hope. Not enough hope to put it down on paper. You have to be realistic. "Of course Venus isn't going to make the quarters of the Australian Open. Of course I'm not going to turn on my television at 5 a.m. in time to watch her finish off Ags Radwanska and mix it up with arguable the next big American tennis star for three sets in the next round. Of course I'm not going to see her finish that match with good tennis, not unforced errors strewn about the court, even though she lost."
Is Venus actually back? I don't know. Who cares? That was just too much fun to watch.
2. Well, well, well, Tomas Berdych. Lays the beat down to Rafa Nadal and then fighting Andy Murray tooth-and-nail in the semis? (Much has been said about Murray's girlfriend cursing out the Berdych camp in the stands of the match. As far as the basic rules of tennis go, I am a traditionalist, but if there's a situation where a tennis match could get all soccer on a fan or observers, that is a good thing. Let's just leave the riots out of it, but trash-talking your opponent -- that's pretty great. Sorry if that's not classy.) Anyway, Nadal crashed out early (as he expected, and for once, he was right), but Berdych finally manning up is good for men's tennis. Nadal and Roger Federer ain't gonna be around forever, people.
3. Oh, and by the way: Andreas Seppi?!? I have an old tennis friend somewhere on the West Coast who called that years ago. Whazzup, Morgan!
4. The women? Not much to say there. I wish Ekaterina Makarova believed in herself a little more. Because she would have given Serena Williams a better run for her money than Maria Sharapova did. Watching someone scrap so hard and come up short for the latest time in a decade is almost enough to make you feel bad for that person. Almost.
5. OK, the last time I saw Madison Keys play was a long time ago, I'll concede that, but does anyone else think that she all of a sudden that her game style is a lot like Lindsay Davenport? I know Davenport's her coach, and maybe it was watching Keys play against the sisters Williams, but the heavy ball, the huge forehand – it was like, it was like, when a thing has happened before that seems familiar but you can't place your finger on it? What's that called?
6. This deciding-point nonsense in mixed doubles: #fail. So now, we're going to take the best part of a tennis match out -- the constant battle. Good. Good.
7. BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS
8. Why don't Nestor and Leander Paes play dubs together? Did I miss that experiment?
I gotta go watch the mens final. Separate post coming on what the (*&#$#^ happened to Murray.