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Serena Williams Conjures up Ghost of U.S. Open Past: Perpetuates ‘Blacks are Thugs’ Stigma

Serena Williams lost the U.S. Open on Sunday, in spectacular fashion.  Not only did she show poorly against Australia’s Sam Stosur points-wise, 2-6, 4-6, but she also arguably showed poorly in attitude and sportsmanship.

On a pivotal break point during the final match of the tournament, when she was already down a set, she found what she thought was her “mojo” and hit a nearly unreturnable shot to Stosur’s weak backhand.  Before the the ball fully made contact with her opponent’s racket, however, she let out one of her signature, “c’mons,” which caused the chair umpire to issue a hindrance violation against her.  It cost her the crucial point (a rare but accurate decision) and the game.  Williams wagged her racket and let fly a relatively benign but stinging tirade toward chair umpire Eva Asderaki (with whom she has a bitter history) that continued through the entire changeover.

“You’re a hater, you are ugly, ugly on the inside,” she told Asderaki.  “Don’t even look at me … if you see me coming down the hallway, you better go the other way,” she continued.

The outburst caused the U.S. Open tournament referee, Brian Earley, to fine her $2K — a drop in the bucket for the multimillionaire champion, but it “does not rise to the level of a major offense under the Grand Slam Code of Conduct,” the official said.

It was a very familiar scenario for the passionate tennis veteran.

It was just two years ago in New York that Serena lost her cool during a critical couple of points in her match against Kim Clijsters.  She received a foot-fault violation (an accurate but rare call), bringing Clijsters to match point.  Already frustrated by being against the ropes, she “vented” on the lines woman who made the call, ultimately losing the point and the semifinal match due to her expletive-filled tirade.  The backlash  from tennis fans was scathing and racist.  She was ultimately fined a record 95k for the incident and placed on two-years probation, with the next major offense resulting in suspension.

Time, in a sense, had healed those wounds, as she took a year off from the sport due to a life threatening illness and injury to her foot, causing her to miss the U.S. Open tournament in 2010.  The time off put some much needed distance between her and the ugly blowout.  After her health ordeal passed, she returned to tennis with what many deemed a more humble and focused approach to the sport.  She even won over many previously hardened hearts by crying at the end of her first match back at 2011 Wimbledon.

Sunday’s regression to aggression, though, erased all that (including a 2.8 million dollar pay day )… a second fall from grace she and ultimately black people can’t really afford.

As an example of the Serena Williams (translation: blacks in general) climate among largely white tennis fans, here are some message board comments:

“Serena should be banned from the U.S. open for her behavior. This has happened twice now and if she can’t play at that level without losing her temper, she shouldn’t be playing in our major.”

“Serena’s behavior is unforgivable. She is an awful representatives for this country. Rude to the core and a savage.”

“Congratulations to Sam Storur. In sports, it is so rewarding when good technique and strategy beat brute force and intimidation. This is the second time the goon Serena Williams threatens an umpire or lines person. No matter how local or awarded a sportsman/women is, this kind of behavior should not be tolerated anymore without an exemplary reprimand.”

“If she had to apologize, that would make her appear weak & thugs can’t possibly look weak. She’s got to appear bad to the bone. Otherwise she might have to act like a real human & not pitch temper tantrums like the spoiled brat that she’s been showing herself to be.”

Racists are lying in wait for a reason to say, “I told you so,” when it comes to blacks.  Serena’s outburst awakened them, as demonstrated by the sample of comments.  Honestly, I was cringing and wishing for her to pull up, because I knew the impact it would have.  But she kept going — with resolve not to apologize whether right or wrong.

On Sunday, whether justified or not, Serena Williams put another ding in how blacks are viewed by other races — especially since the clip is now making national and local news.  You may feel that it doesn’t matter, but I think it does because it translates to everything from jobs to racial profiling.  I wouldn’t quite call the incident a setback for blacks, but it certainly added to the gradient of the hill we’re still climbing.

That aside, her only reprieve now that she set her image re-building campaign back light years is to go down in history as the winningest, wealthiest angry black woman tennis history.  Is that enough?

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15 Comments

  1. ThomasMack on September 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I guess John McEnroe was a thug too.
    His blow ups were more pronounced and profanity laced than Serena by far. There is nothing ‘thug’ about arguing a bad call in tennis.

    • Guest on September 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      John McEnroe was 10 times worse — white and male — and is celebrated to this day. And I’m not mad at him or her. Both John and Serena may have outbursts but neither is a thug. Don’t hold her to a higher standard than that tantrum- prone, profanity-laced tirade having white guy — let them both just be. I’ve never heard of either putting hands on anyone. Talking smack during sporting competition is nothing odd. Go pick on some hockey players.

  2. Anonymous on September 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Apparently everyone 66% feels the way i do black folks dont all fit into a box.

  3. Smmmoke on September 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Black, white, rich, poor, famous, low-key, whatever. We are all capable of bad behavior and we all have personality flaws whether we are ready to admit them or not.
    Serena may have been right about the poor calls (I don’t know the game well enough to say yes or no) but she could’ve argued her point much better and not personally attack the lady in public (pull her to the side Serena). Because of her size and athletic ability she comes off as a bully here.
    No one’s perfect but we as black people already know that we have to be twice as good with etiquette sometimes even though we’re not always up to it.
    Live and learn Serena.

  4. Anonymous on September 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    This is simply a case of the “Blacks dominating white sportsitis” and folks are really tired of it. We dominate Basketball, Boxing (once, I don’t know who the champ is now and really don’t care), Golf (once, before Tiger was told to sit his colorblind azz down), Football (Vick = $100M, Newton breaking Mannings record), and Tennis (Venus is now sick, but we still got Serena). And let’s not mention the ultimate non sports realted position held by a black person, The Presidncy! C’mons! No wonder people make BS calls!

    • Smmmoke on September 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      With all due respect, while I agree that the President considers himself black we should always remember that he was aided by his white half.
      If he was as black as Wesley Snipes I doubt he’d have won that election.

      • Uncle Chuck on September 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        What’s that got to do with tennis?

        • Smmmoke on September 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm

          absolutely nothing…I was just responding to her statement.

      • Anonymous on September 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

        I hear where you’re coming from, but take him to a KKK meeting and that white half becomes irrelevant real quick. Just think, to some, the fact that he is mixed with white makes him even more offensive. In their eyes his white mother disgraced the race by mixing with not just a black man, but a man of pure African descent. A man who would’ve been a slave right off the boat. So, hey! And you’re probably right, if he were as dark as Wesley Snipes he probably would not have been elected.

  5. Slave Mentality on September 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    This society is racist. They mistreat Blacks and then justify punishing us when we respond to the mistreatment. No other player of Serena’s stature would be treated the way she and Venus is regularly. In the same match Stosur yelled the same way during a play and no one said a thing.
    Sharapova screams the entire match, and the White audience and announcers don’t say a thing.
    Let’s get rid of the slave mentality that makes us worry more about what OTHER people think, than whether or not we are free to do the things that all people are supposed to be able to do, even if it is to scream during a tennis match.
    The days of the House Negro are over. I salute Serena. Its the 21st Century and she shouldn’t have to carry that BS burden that our parents did of having to BE BETTER THAN WHITE PEOPLE. They kick us and we say forgive and forget. If we are FREE then be FREE and stop worrying about other people who are always looking for an excuse to JUSTIFY their mistreatment of you.
    Its like telling us we can’t find jobs cause we ain’t educated….well look around. Right now millions of EDUCATED Blacks can’t find jobs and a White person with a criminal record has a better chance of getting hired than a college educated Negro. WAKE UP!!!

  6. Slave Mentality on September 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    This society is racist. They mistreat Blacks and then justify punishing us when we respond to the mistreatment. No other player of Serena’s stature would be treated the way she and Venus is regularly. In the same match Stosur yelled the same way during a play and no one said a thing.
    Sharapova screams the entire match, and the White audience and announcers don’t say a thing.
    Let’s get rid of the slave mentality that makes us worry more about what OTHER people think, than whether or not we are free to do the things that all people are supposed to be able to do, even if it is to scream during a tennis match.
    The days of the House Negro are over. I salute Serena. Its the 21st Century and she shouldn’t have to carry that BS burden that our parents did of having to BE BETTER THAN WHITE PEOPLE. They kick us and we say forgive and forget. If we are FREE then be FREE and stop worrying about other people who are always looking for an excuse to JUSTIFY their mistreatment of you.
    Its like telling us we can’t find jobs cause we ain’t educated….well look around. Right now millions of EDUCATED Blacks can’t find jobs and a White person with a criminal record has a better chance of getting hired than a college educated Negro. WAKE UP!!!

    • Smmmoke on September 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      While I completely agree with your premise of ‘true freedom’ here I must stress that I don’t have a problem with Serena or anyone’s RIGHT to snap…I have a problem with the WAY she snapped (making threats, calling her ‘ugly inside’). Serena was simply out of line and I’m not one to defend anyone’s bad behavior. But yes, she’s a human being and definitely has the right to be out of line.
      Still, you are absolutely correct when you say that we must progress past the point of worrying what others may think so I wholly agree with you there.

  7. Slave Mentality on September 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    This society is racist. They mistreat Blacks and then justify punishing us when we respond to the mistreatment. No other player of Serena’s stature would be treated the way she and Venus is regularly. In the same match Stosur yelled the same way during a play and no one said a thing.
    Sharapova screams the entire match, and the White audience and announcers don’t say a thing.
    Let’s get rid of the slave mentality that makes us worry more about what OTHER people think, than whether or not we are free to do the things that all people are supposed to be able to do, even if it is to scream during a tennis match.
    The days of the House Negro are over. I salute Serena. Its the 21st Century and she shouldn’t have to carry that BS burden that our parents did of having to BE BETTER THAN WHITE PEOPLE. They kick us and we say forgive and forget. If we are FREE then be FREE and stop worrying about other people who are always looking for an excuse to JUSTIFY their mistreatment of you.
    Its like telling us we can’t find jobs cause we ain’t educated….well look around. Right now millions of EDUCATED Blacks can’t find jobs and a White person with a criminal record has a better chance of getting hired than a college educated Negro. WAKE UP!!!

  8. Robert on September 14, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Good grief!  You can’t be serious.  This has nothing to do with color.  She is a very competitive individual and in the heat of battle people say things.  Look at John McEnroe and/or Jimmy Connors.  You cross the line when you threatened someone which she didn’t do this time.  The $2000 fine tells how serious they thought it was.    

  9. Pazzlepoof on September 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Overdoing it a little?  I mean she didn’t do anything that outlandish or horrible did she? It seems like you’re either considered some kind of an angel or satanic depending on how exaggerated people are going to be on any given day. Sports fans particularly are annoying as hell!