As the curtain fell on Serena Williams’ career, there is one thing that we can be grateful for — she’s retiring, argues Phil Mushnick.
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 valour and class.
Doesn’t matter how much evidence to the contrary, and there’s plenty. It was wishful, ignorant, obligatory and unnecessary rubbish. Or are the Tiger Woods Impaired Driving Academy and the Serena Williams Charm School coming to a strip mall near you?
Was it mere coincidence that many in attendance at Williams’ second-round win, Wednesday, felt entitled to boorish, bully behaviour 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 behaviour 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 US 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 colour.” The head of the US 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 behaviour.
She later claimed she apologised.
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 not given are 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.