I consider myself to be a tennis fan. You want to know my fondest tennis moment? It wasn’t the first tournament I ever won or becoming the number one ranked under-12 boy in Scar City. No, it was being slammed to the ground by some older boy picking on me and then cracking him in the back with my tennis racquet. He gave me a cold look and then slinked off. I heard I gave him back problems. Advantage Mars.
I grew up playing tennis in the ghetto, well, Canadian ghetto, whatever that means. I would love to write something provocative like, “It was either play on cracked courts or smoke crack” or “The only machines that fired anything shot bullets not tennis balls,” but like I said, this was Canadian ghetto and I’m not the mayor. Regardless, the courts were indeed shitty and we had no fancy clubhouse, showers, or ball machines. Oh and my doubles partner did end up in prison, which I found out one day from his brother while I was about to buy some fried chicken. Seriously. I love cornbread too.
I guess that’s why I can empathize with Serena Williams. She learned how to play tennis in fucking Compton. That’s like learning to bobsled in Jamai… wait… never mind. In many ways, she is the embodiment of what White America, White imperialists, have never been able to understand. Physically she is an absolute marvel. If we flashed back to the crimes of the early 19th century, the sheer magnitude of her proportions screams of the Venus Hottentot. Baby got back and front. But instead of merely exuding soft mounds of sexuality, through hard work and pedigree, she has sculpted herself into an intimidating machine. Serena, at least on the outside, is unabashedly a reminder of the injustices your ancestors committed, the very reason why you’re able to build your snooty country clubs where you smack fuzzy balls at one another in your little white short shorts; mind you, at a much more pedestrian speed. That’s why you racist tennis fans and commentators reluctantly show her love and pounce on every opportunity to denigrate her.
As a physical specimen, Serena Williams is a reminder of crimes done in the name of science and crimes done in the name of progress. She is the physical embodiment of colonialism and slavery. And she’s killing your scrawny, weak little children, while barely breaking a sweat. You’re afraid of her. She is big, black and beautiful, well, if that’s your thing. The ass is phat and the titties be bouncing. But then she brings out the gun show and thighs that could crush your girly frame. That’s why you can’t decide whether you want to fuck or fight her. So you stare. We all stare as she prowls the courts and ends up doing the ONLY thing that matters: winning.
Serena Williams the tennis player is likewise a marvel. She defies imagination. She shouldn’t be winning, not at this stage of her career. What she’s managed to accomplish given the number of other hobbies and distractions is truly enigmatic. Either she’s that good or women’s tennis sucks that bad. What she’s managed to do, after extensive layoffs, would be the equivalent of Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to lead his team to … wait that happened already. Hmm maybe they are just that much better than us? Don’t hate; appreciate. Serena’s serve and mental fortitude are simply unbelievable.
Ever since I was little, whenever a controversy would come up while playing something, someone would ultimately chime in and say, “The ball don’t lie.” It’s sort of a universal understanding amongst athletes that sports are supposed to be an arena of truth. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how pretty you are, or even what you did last year. All that matters is now and the ball doesn’t lie. That’s why we get our underwear twisted in a knot whenever someone egregiously cheats (i.e. uses performance enhancers) or someone outside the game interferes with how the ball bounces. When the stage is properly set, the athletes (and their equipment if applicable) alone will determine the outcome. Nothing else we do comes close to reaching such binary perfection as win or lose. Hence, the expression, “Sports are a model of a just society.” There are rules to each game; if you stay within the boundaries of those rules and outperform your opponent, you win. Sports are probably the best example of anarchy. There are rules but there are no leaders. Umpires and referees are supposed to be there to simply enforce the boundaries and ensure that play is fair. They are not to influence the ball because “the ball doesn’t lie.”
On two occasions now at the US Open, arguably the largest stage in tennis, I have witnessed Serena handcuffed by balls spun by someone other than one of her opponents and both times it has potentially altered the truth. The first time was a called foot fault; the second, a called hindrance infraction. Both times it was the wrong call.
I’m not going to lie; I root for the great White hope also. It’s not that I have anything against Serena, or Venus for that matter; I just can’t help but feel like her not winning is better for tennis. Maybe it will teach the other players to actually learn another shot or strategy other than hitting it hard and flat because there’s always going to be someone bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter and her name just happens to be Serena. She’s kicking your ass and this isn’t even her only job.
So yeah, I rooted for Kim Clijsters and Sam Stosur like the rest of you. They brought new elements to the game, some character that wasn’t Xeroxed in a Russian orphan… I mean boarding school. Kim has always been about character. Dumped by some asshole for a B-level soap star, Clijsters managed to rally back, became a mother, and combined her freak flexibility, work ethic, and power to really push Serena. Similarly, Sam Stosur was the embodiment of a hardhat athlete. She honed her game playing doubles, which is usually something a player does just to stay on the tour, and as a result, she developed a great serve-and-volley game to complement her strong forehand. She’s a throwback in a lot of ways and even saw a sports psychologist to get her over the hump, which shows that she’s human. In life, don’t we all get the yips every now and then? I think it’s fitting that both of these women were able to solve the Serena puzzle. Nevertheless, both of their wins were tainted. Don’t get me wrong, they probably would have won anyways; after all, the ball doesn’t lie, but this doesn’t change the audacity displayed by an umpire allegedly involved in both of these matches. And it’s a goddamn shame no one in the United States Tennis Association thought, “Hey, probably not a good idea to have this lady sitting in the chair again.” But you never wanted Serena to win in the first place.
There are three types of citizens in the world: 1) Those who follow the rules to the letter without question, 2) those who try and break every rule, and finally, 3) those who believe that rules are conditional. I guess you could say that I fall into the latter category and consider the other two to be mindless twits just waiting to get fucked by a moron with more authority or someone bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, or simply with a better gun.
To the rule followers, Serena is a number two (hehe) and deserved her fate. To the rule breakers, Serena’s only mistake was that she got caught. This is the middle path:
Yes, Serena was in violation of the “rules” but as a judge it is your duty to competently be the THIRD PERSON. It is your job to evaluate the conditions to arrive at a version of the truth in the middle OR you become obsolete. Come on. A fucking computer already does a better job of determining if a ball is in or out. The ONLY reason you’re even there is to be the human element, the one who is supposed to toe the line between fascism and chaos, to allow the natural truth to reveal itself. Yes, those were the rules as written by the letter but it is your job to NOT follow them to the letter. It’s your job to evaluate the condition and sometimes how you enforce those rules really depends on how much of a bitch you’re trying to be. Bottom line: You should NOT affect the natural outcome.
Twice now I’ve seen Serena get screwed over by a “judge” with a little bit of authority. Yes, Serena foot-faulted. I’m not blind. But here’s a newsflash, EVERYONE FUCKING FOOT-FAULTS at some point in the most minor of degrees and it goes UNCALLED. It takes a certain special biatch to make that call at such a crucial juncture of a match. Unless a player is sliding half a meter into the court, this will have ZERO impact on the placement of the serve. It is negligible. There is NO advantage being gained. Anybody who actually plays tennis knows this. Similarly, yes, Serena prematurely snarled “Come-on!” but any competent judge would have recognized that Sam Stosur had NO PLAY ON THE BALL. She wasn’t getting it back. If that was a “hindrance,” then EVERY SINGLE POINT played by a screeching banshee (i.e. Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, even Monica Seles back in the day, etc.) could be considered a hindrance, no, a wilful hindrance to the performance of another player. And yet every player has to deal with such distractions on every fucking stroke without the hope of their opponent suddenly losing the point for being an annoying asshole. Fucking gag them already.
At the very worst, the umpire should have made them play a let (or replay the point to those not versed in tennis lingo), even though Serena had clearly won the point in the latter instance. They could’ve given her a verbal warning to be a little less over-exuberant next time. No harm, no foul. But no, you had someone in the chair that was a pissing rule follower, twice, and without a doubt it affected how the ball bounced. Inexcusable. As a referee, it’s your job not to put spin on the ball or you end up flushing the integrity of the competition down the drain. Serena is lucky that this was just a tennis match and the racist fucks baying for her ample ass on a platter are not sitting in an actual jury box or on the bench. It may be “just a game” but so is life. The rest of us unfortunately don’t have the luxury of replay or the option to play a let when the ball doesn’t quite bounce like it’s supposed to.