Stop the presses!
I got a letter to the editor in The New York Times! The Sunday New York Times, at that.
OK, I’m sorry; I got a little carried away there. Keep the presses rolling; I’ll just tell the story in this humble space, where there’s no deadline and it costs nothing to insert a big, late-breaking story.
So, here’s the deal…I’ve written letters to the editor of The Times several times, but before yesterday never had one published. On Friday, I got an e-mail from weekend sports editor Patty DeLuca saying that a letter I had written about Serena Williams’s tantrum in the women’s final of the U.S. Open on Sept. 11 would be published on Sunday (yesterday).
And, indeed, there it was — one of five letters, all about Williams, that appeared on Page 10 of Sports Sunday.
Four of the letters, including mine, were very critical of Williams’ borderline-threatening, verbal assault on the umpire who called her for a “hindrance” after she hit a ball and loudly exclaimed “Come on!” while opponent Samantha Stosur attempted to hit a return. The penalty cost Williams a game point, and she flew into a rage, just as she did two years ago when a lineswoman called her for a foot fault.
Two years ago, Williams directly threatened the lineswoman, saying, “I swear to God I’ll fucking take the ball and shove it down your fucking throat.”
She also said, “You don’t know me…,” as if to say, “Those who do will tell you that I’ll do exactly what I said I’d do.”
This year, she told the umpire: “If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you’re out of control. … You’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside…Really, don’t even look at me, don’t look my way.”
Here’s what my letter, the last of the five, said:
“Serena Williams’s verbal assault on a lineswoman in the 2009 United State Open certainly didn’t seem like an aberration, although many hoped that it was. Confirmation that the incident wasn’t an aberration came in last Sunday’s final against Samantha Stosur.
“Williams is a spoiled individual who resorts to threatening people who stand between her and what she wants.”
Williams’ lone defender among the five letter writers was Sandra Roche of New York. She said: “When John McEnroe behaved outrageously during his playing years, we accepted it as the overenthusiastic response of a champion caught up in the heat of competition.
“Why is Serena Williams being judged by a different standard? McEnroe’s behavior toward chair umpires was far more disrespectful than hers.”
Because I’m not going to have a chance to rebut Ms. Roche before 1.3 million subscribers to the Sunday Times, I guess I’ll have to do it here — before my core readership of 200 to 300 people. (I appreciate your patronage, dear readers.)
So, why is Williams held to a different standard? Is it because of her color? Nooooo. Is it because she’s a woman? Nooooo.
It’s because McEnroe, while he insulted officials and put them on the spot in front of national TV audiences, NEVER THREATENED AN OFFICIAL…to the best of my recollection. Yes, his behavior was out of line, but there’s a huge difference between calling an umpire “the pits of the world,” as McEnroe once did and threatening to shove a ball down his or her throat.
As happy as I was that The Times published my letter I was twice as happy that Stosur, an Australian, defeated Williams in straight sets.
My curse on her (besides the one in the headline, which I paraphrased from Carnac the Magnificent) is this:
May you never win another major tournament, and may your sister Venus (who’s out of action with an autoimmune disease) come back to defeat you.