Monday, September 14, 2009

The Clijsters Comeback

I watched Kim Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki last night, 7-5, 6-3, to cap an amazing run wherein she eliminated Venus and Serena Williams in only her third tournament coming out of retirement. I didn't foresee this, but neither did I bet against Clijsters in any match knowing her experience, physical ability, and fighting spirit.

Wozniacki plays an offspeed game that confounds today's power hitters. She had Kim on the ropes for much of the first set and came back from an early break in the second, but Clijsters finally measured her and was able to hit more winners.

I was away Saturday and did not see Serena's meltdown in the previous match, but what I've heard and seen in replays is terrible. Serena said she'd never been in a fight in her life. That may be true, but how was the linesperson she threatened to gag supposed to know?

I have a hard time giving anyone the benefit of the doubt; I'm ten times as wary to give it to sports stars I'll probably never meet. A good reputation doesn't go far with me. I can't rely on reputation if I want to be thought of as a good person. I prove myself by what I do moment to moment. This is a rigorous way of thinking, but it frees me from habits and patterns. When I become aware of my behavior, it becomes a choice, and I can make a different choice if I want.

Like others, I'd prefer Serena weren't allowed to play in today's women's doubles final, but apparently the maximum on-site penalty was assessed. I hope a further penalty comes down. I say she serves a suspension soon or gets barred from next year's U.S. Open.

UPDATE (3:38 PM): Serena would like to amend her previous post-match statement. The following is from an AFP article by Jim Slater:

One day after issuing a statement in which she did not offer apologies for Saturday's incident, the 11-time Grand Slam champion offered up an amendment to her comments with another statement, this one containing an apology to many.

"I want to amend my press statement of yesterday and want to make it clear as possible - I want to sincerely apologize first to the lineswoman, Kim Clijsters, the US Tennis Association and mostly tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst," Williams said.

"I'm a woman of great pride, faith and integrity and I admit when I'm wrong. I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it's not the way to act -- win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner.

"I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad. I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result."


pattinase (abbott) said...

This was the only time she ever behaved this way. McEnroe did it all the time and got away with it mostly. Sexism, racism? I don't know.

Gerald So said...

True, all players argue with linespeople, but there is a difference between calling someone an idiot asshole and threatening actual physical harm: "If I could I would take this f__ing ball and shove it down your f__ing throat."

Even so, in the context of the match, Serena was only penalized one point. Unfortunately for her, it came at match point. She could have avoided the whole thing if she remembered she had been warned earlier for breaking her racquet.

McEnroe was in a similar situation at the 1990 Australian Open and received a similar penalty. He accepted responsibility and apologized for his behavior. Serena has yet to do that.

There will always be questionable calls. It's players' responsibility to remain within themselves and do their best to win anyway.