Harder for black people to win respect; even Serena
So it’s really super that, 13 years after first achieving world number one status, the prim guardians of the tennis establishment are “coming to appreciate” her behaviour, as one British journalist put it after her sixth Wimbledon win this weekend, “bizarre” as it is.
Nonetheless, this same journalist wrote a month earlier when covering the French Open, there are plenty who “hold a rather cynical view of Serena Williams’ tennis achievements”: the view that she hasn’t “always been totally focused on tennis.”
This lack of focus was proved by Williams issuing a statement that day that she was too ill for a press conference before her match. Slacker Serena, that’s what we call her. One sportscaster suggested in 2001 that she looked more suited to National Geographic than Playboy.
Future generations will look back at the kicking Williams got and marvel at how so many failed to appreciate an athlete we’re all privileged to watch in her prime.
Throughout her career, her commitment has been doubted by journalists and former players alike, including Chris Evert, who opted for officially the most annoying form of journalism - the open letter - to convey her scepticism , and Pat Cash, who declared Williams a “lost cause” , one “obviously” without the same dedication as Andre Agassi and Jennifer Capriati,back in, um, 2007.
No one take any stock market predictions from Pat Cash, y’hear? And if she’s not showing insufficient commitment, then she’s showing too much. She’s been repeatedly accused of cheating, despite a total lack of evidence. When Williams played her sister, Venus, at Wimbledon last week “old suspicions about the validity of their matches re-emerged”, as one British newspaper put it darkly , repeating nonsense peddled by the US sports journalist Jason Whitlock that the Williams sisters’ father decides the outcome of their matches in advance.
Last weekend, as Williams won Wimbledon for the sixth time, David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic and former adviser to George W Bush, tweeted implying that she uses steroids , even though she is one of the most tested players in tennis. Frum later deleted his tweets. By all means, ask questions - Lord knows there has been too much credulousness in the past about successful athletes.