Serena meltdown debate veers off course

Jaco van der Merwe.

Jaco van der Merwe.

When you enter the court you are obliged to follow the rules set out, with the umpire being put in charge to make sure they are adhered to.

Serena Williams’ epic meltdown in the US Open final last Saturday has stirred an international debate on whether she was right or wrong to have such a go at chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

But as the opinions grew on every social media platform known to man, so did the arguments drift further and further away from tennis, and sport in general.

It has escalated in the predicted way to become either a gender or race issue or in many cases both.

Of course it did, as we live in a society that has become so fixated with political correctness that once someone starts the fire by branding a situation as sexist or racist, whether justified or not, the stigma overshadows everything else.

As I watched a replay of events on Sunday, I couldn’t help noticing my seven-year-old daughter and a friend staring at the television with wide eyes.

Just remember, in their minds, they were watching a sport they play at school when the weather permits and are quite fond of.

It was just another random tennis match, played between whoever, wherever.

They are not exposed to the harsh realities of gender discrimination and certainly not to racism, as far as I can help it.

This unusual set of circumstances had a profound effect on them.

Here we had a player yelling at the top of her voice at a guy who was forced to soak up everything hurled in his direction.

She smashed her racket and yelled some more, accusing the oke in the chair of being a thief.

On top of that, she dropped the very idle threat that he will never be on the same court as her again.

And why did she react this way?

Because Ramos used his discretion to dock her a point after noticing her coach Patrick Mouratoglou giving her illegal hand signals, something he admitted to.

Then the umpire docked a point for smashing her racket which the whole world could clearly see, and then he penalised her again for the coaching, this time with a game.

“What did that man do to her? She’s being very nasty to him,” was my shell-shocked daughter’s response before resuming her game.

Maybe if Serena was a wet-behind-the-ears 17-year-old punk who hadn’t learned to rope herself in – like that Australian head-banger Nick Kyrgios – it would have made sense to me.

But she is a true legend of the game with 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name.

If anybody should know how to behave, it’s her.

When you enter the court you are obliged to follow the rules set out, with the umpire being put in charge to make sure they are adhered to.

As easy as that.

Ramos did his job, she hated it and acted out.

If acting within his rights and upholding the integrity of his sport makes Ramos a racist and a sexist, with Serena being hailed as a hero for throwing her toys like a spoiled brat and making herself bigger than the game, I’m strongly considering making my little girl’s tennis racket disappear.

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8 December 2018 THE VAAL

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