The minute Serena Williams steps on the court Monday to play in the doubles final at the U.S. Open, the entire sport of tennis should be ashamed of itself.
Serena’s embarrassing outburst in the women’s final was bad enough for everyone involved, but now the decision not to immediately suspend her widens the humiliation to an entire sport. And slapping a $10,000 fine on her is literally like docking about three bucks out of most people’s paycheck.
Let’s be honest, mainstream America really gets into tennis just a few times a year, such as the U.S. Open, French Open and Wimbledon (sorry Aussie Open fans, it never has the same buzz).
So when one of its biggest stars loses her mind in one of the sport’s biggest stages and completely ruins what should have been a wonderful moment for champion Kim Clijsters and the entire sport - swift punishment absolutely had to happen.
Those who back tennis bill it as a sport of the people because of its massive participation rate and that all the members of the family can play together, no matter their age. So when one of its big names threatens a line judge the way Serena did, the sport absolutely has to jump in immediately and send the message around the world that such behavior is simply not to be tolerated.
While John McEnroe in CBS Sports’ booth serves as the ultimate irony when addressing such a topic (”Don’t look at me” he said on TV), Mary Carillo did a great job by calling for an immediate suspension and saying Serena should not be allowed to play in Monday’s doubles final.
Golf has its own issues with Tiger Woods and his constant outbursts and how that plays on TV, but he has never threatened anyone while holding up his driver. And bad sportsmanship runs rampant across all sports.
But this is different. Sports shows over the weekend should have been carrying highlights of a magnificent comeback by Clijsters, who is basically just returning from an extended maternity leave and had a wonderful and improbable run.
Instead, everyone saw pictures of a player embarrassing herself.
And today when the doubles final starts, they will see pictures of an entire professional sport doing the same.