Wimbledon is the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. The men’s final is tomorrow morning at 9am…which the U.S. networks have dubbed “breakfast at Wimbledon” for decades.
99% of you won’t watch it and don’t care. I do because I’m a tennis dork; and it will give me 2+ hours of good couch time on a Sunday morning.
Serena Williams played in the women’s final today. She won — tying Steffi Graff for the second most female major open singles titles of all time at 22. I saw Serena and Venus Williams play a charity event at RoFo Arena when they were just 13 and 14, respectively. Beads still in their hair. Gangly, carefree teenagers. It was like getting a glimpse at the future of women’s tennis.
I can’t stand Serena Williams.
I loathe her.
Much like Duke basketball games…I watch her matches just to see her lose. Which neither Duke nor Serena do that often, unfortunately.
And as much as I champion the journalistic integrity and superior writing of Sports Illustrated, I couldn’t stand the fact that they voted her their 2015 Sportsperson of the Year.
I’m not supposed to hate her. None of us are. After all, she’s an American. After all, she’s the best female tennis player in the world and arguably one of the greatest of all time.
She came from nothing. A true rags to riches story. She grew up in a terrible neighborhood, being trained and coached by her father on the rough and tumble tennis courts of Compton, CA. Legend has it that the Bloods and the Crypts both kept watch over the courts when she trained–for even they knew how special of a tennis player she was and wanted her to make the most of her gift.
Her half sister was shot dead in 2003.
I still can’t stand her.
I align with the philosophy that winning (and losing) should be done with class and grace. Drunken college kids storming the court because their crappy mid-major school just took down the #12 ranked team in basketball? BUSH LEAGUE.
For the LOVE OF GOD, act like you’ve been there before.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the passion, competitive fire, the drive, the spirit in all athletes. You can’t suppress some emotions. That’s fine. But there’s a difference between a subtle fist pump:
and screaming like a banshee after a big point or play:
A line judge called her for a foot fault during a crucial point in a match.
You can’t really hear what she actually says to the line judge, so here it is:
“If I could, I’d take this f*cking ball and shove it down your f*cking throat.”
A Sports Illustrated writer, S.L. Price, sitting 15 rows away, claims he heard her walk over to the line judge and say, “You better f*cking be right.”
That literally lost the match for her at the U.S. Open (she lost the point on the foot fault and then lost match point after being penalized for the outburst). She was fined a record $175,000 for the incident.
But Serena Williams or tennis is not the point. The point is…too often we conform to what the media, our friends, or our family wants us to like…or do…or conform to.
Because of external pressures or perceptions, we don’t put a stake in the ground and say, “That’s not me. No thanks. Actually, I don’t really like that.” Or, “Actually I prefer this instead.”
Last night, a good buddy and I were having this exact conversation about Michael Phelps. My original distaste for him (and his subsequent Delaney redemption) is well chronicled here.
As Baltimorons, we’re supposed to love Michael Phelps. He’s one of ours. He’s the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. Yeah…but until he went to rehab and reinvented himself, he was also a supreme d-bag.
This is an issue…not just in sports…but with a lot of things in this country and around the world today. Democrats and Republicans fear that if they reach across the isle, they risk abandonment by their party and their constituency. EVERYTHING is documented. Gone are the days of coming together; arguing; debating; and then if compromise isn’t reached, you have a few drinks, sleep it off, and try again tomorrow.
Now, politicians argue, debate, and when the meeting is over, a reporter or blogger shoves a phone or microphone in their face and says, “Did you hear what the other side just said about you??? What do you think of that?!”
Transparency is good most of time…but not always. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Often times my friends, colleagues, and family members say the exact same thing to me: “You’re just taking the other side on purpose. You’re not agreeing with me out of sheer principle. You’re just saying that because you like to argue.”
I appreciate seeing an issue from all points of view before taking a stance. Many times that means exploring the opposite opinion to get a better perspective. It gets me into trouble a lot. Hey, I’m working on it.
But some of my favorite discussions involve those who see differently than I do. I like to say, “I don’t agree with you. But a respect and appreciate your point of view.”
We need more of that in this world…and less of, “I don’t agree with you, and I’m going to shoot you.”
While I can’t stand Fleetwood Mac — although I respect their place in music history (see, I’m working on it!) — remember that you can go your own way.
And I will never like Serena Williams.