But consider the facts that Williams has long been the subject of ridicule. For six years now,she has been portrayed as grunting and groaning her way from the untalented masses to become the 13-time women’s singles grand slam champion. During the process, she had to overcome a lot of suspect and snide remarks from those inside and outside of the tennis world, who critiqued her about her flashy tennis outfits, to her weight to the beads in her hair. She was even subjected to racial heckling from a spectator, who told her to hit the ball as a ‘N-Word would.’
And let us not forget the 2004 US. Open, when again, several obvious unnecessary calls were made against her. That particular umpire ended up being suspended from the tournament. So you can imagine that if you feel that you have been harassed for a prolonged period of time that once in a while, all that emotional energy a person has build up will one day extol itself on someone, even if it is an innocent bystander.
But while that may be true, I think the explanation behind Williams’ rant is much simplistic than that. Sometimes our anger can serve the purpose of exhibiting what’s really bothering us deep down. In Williams’ case, she just wasn’t playing well and I believe deep down inside, she knew it. And in those instances where the pressure is on and every single point matters, she lashed out at the chair umpire, who appeared to be the physical manifestation of how she was failing herself that day. And honestly, it’s not a big deal and we’ve all been there before with employers, friends, family and others, who we argue in righteousness with, even in times when we are wrong.
So was it bad sportsmanship? You betcha and she should probably apologize to the chair umpire for the personal attacks. But do I think she deserves to have been disqualified from the match, as some observers have suggested? NO. We’ve seen episodes of bad sportsmanship before in hockey, with the fights between players and in baseball where a coach will literally spit and kick dirt on the umpire’s shoes. For Williams, I think that the fine as well as viral video of our awkward outburst is punishment enough.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.