I didn’t watch the women’s US Open championship match between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka so I’ve read more articles than normal to understand the drama concerning Serena’s outburst and Naomi’s tears. The more I read the more I’m convinced the writers are as competitive as the tennis pros when it comes to taking a side to determine winners and losers. But, in this case, they’re not describing Williams and Osaka, they’re describing Williams and Williams.

It’s hard to read anything on the match. However, there’s no shortage of opinion on whether Serena was right or wrong.

Today’s Delaware County Daily Times has an opinion piece by Chris Freind who has Serena on the losing side. Then, in the sports section of the same issue, there’s a story by Deepti Hajela of the AP who doesn’t have Serena as a loser but as a bold example of black women who don’t feel they have a voice when they face issues, particularly in the workplace.

I’m not a fan of Chris Freind’s opinions but read his piece today to see what he had to say about Serena. I was reminded of my English professor in college who would stop reading our papers if he encountered a run-on or sentence fragment and give us an automatic F. I wanted to stop reading Freind’s piece several times after he said stuff like this…

  • if Osaka prevailed, she would become the first Japanese champion.
  • Sure, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe had legendary tirades in the ’70s and ’80s, but few, if any, players get away with such outbursts today.
  • Most important, Serena’s gender is absolutely irrelevant.
  • But in today’s hypersensitized climate, does anyone really believe that a secret cabal of men are out to get not just female tennis players, but black ones?
  • Not everything is sexist and bigoted. Not everything is against women and minorities.

I’m not going to bother giving my opinion of his opinion but it goes to show why I don’t like his stuff.

One letter sent to the Philadelphia Daily News yesterday was a lot more digestible. Marisa Porges, head of school at The Baldwin School, an all-girls independent school in Bryn Mawr said these things about Serena…

  • the image of Williams standing up for herself with the umpire — owning the power of her voice —is one that all young women should see.
  • Even as we remind our kids about the importance of sportsmanship and respectful dialogue, girls today also need to know that being a strong self-advocate is crucial. And that, given the gender discrimination still rampant across society, girls standing up for themselves sometimes requires significant inner strength and a loud “unfeminine” voice.
  • Williams showed the world how to be not just bold and strong but gracious and a good sportsman, too. As the crowd’s boos drowned out the shining moment of Osaka’s young career, Williams put an arm around her competitor and whispered words of encouragement in her ear. Knowing that her powerful voice could sway public sentiment, Williams took the mic to say, “Let’s make this the best moment we can … Let’s not boo anymore,” and then congratulated the young woman who beat her. A great example of sportsmanship in action and, also, the influence that comes when women support other women.
  • We’ve long encouraged our boys to be competitive and aggressive. To be strong self-advocates, and to be gracious in defeat. To use the power of their voice. It’s time that we help girls embrace these lessons, too.

Of course, I have my opinion, but I find it more interesting to see how different opinions are represented in the media.

As Chris Freind says, Not everything is sexist and bigoted. Not everything is against women and minorities.

That’s a real stretch!

I wonder if Serena was ever booed on the tennis court.