I feel like I should follow up on my passionate, yet brief, condemnation of Serena Williams yesterday to explain why I feel so strongly about one outburst in a sport known for its athletes flipping out at officials.
I think that there are two main things that set the incident yesterday apart in my mind:
1) The tirade didn't seem to me to be about the call but more about Serena blowing off steam. Instead of calling out the official on a call she didn't agree with, she insulted, she swore and she threatened. I was taken aback by the pure vitriol in her approach to the official and I would argue that the attack was not just verbally threatening, but also physically so. Had I been the line judge, I would have run fleeing into the stands.
2) The tirade was directed not at the chair umpire, on whom there is a certain responsibility to be accountable to the players for the officiating, but on an essentially voiceless line judge, a person who couldn't defend herself and couldn't answer back. Her only job during the match was to watch the line, and she did that. Her job description does not include speaking to the players, explaining calls to the players and it certainly doesn't include arguing with them.
I should say that I've always been one of the first people to defend Serena and Venus against accusations of ego and/or arrogance, but I can't excuse what she did on the court last night, and I feel badly that Kim Clijsters had to win the match under those circumstances. (Awkward!)
Speaking of Kim, what a win today!