Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tennis ethics are different when a Williams sister is affected

Your guess is as good as any how the wire-service reporter could get that the ball "appears to glance first off (Maria José) Martínez Sánchez's right forearm, then off her racket, before going over the net."

It quite something how the reaction could be so varied, when it's that bloody obvious that Serena Williams got hosed on that call. It's also beside the point if it did hit her opponent's racket, since the point should have been decided as soon as the ball hit her arm.

It's not clear what ism is really most at play, other than the media's need to create conflict when there really isn't one and pander to the knee-jerkers.

Yahoo! Sports attempted to characterize it as "a tough one," when it was not:
"If, as Williams claims, Martinez Sanchez knew the ball hit her and didn't say anything, it's not honest, but it's not an egregious violation of tennis ethics either. You can see where Serena is coming from, but what did she want Martinez Sanchez to do, overrule the chair umpire?

"Tennis players aren't responsible for their own calls."
However, over in London where they know their tennis and speak really good European, that's not how it's being seen. The Sunday Times believes there should be an investigation, while a lot of people here are saying in not so direct language, "Shut up, Serena."
"When Serena Williams accuses her Spanish opponent Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of cheating, then things need to be investigated. After all this is the sport where players admit that the ball bounced twice on their side of the net and the French Open is the place where competitors scuff out ball marks on the clay when they know they are out, to save the umpire the task of getting out of his chair to invigilate.

"... Those with a long memory immediately cited the case of Ken Flach in the 1985 US Open doubles final when he and Robert Seguso confronted Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte. Flach wore his hair stylishly shoulder long in those days and a drive from the French duo hit his flowing locks.

"Noah, very much a man of peace since his retirement, was incensed but Flach insisted he had no idea whether the ball touched his hair or not which quite conceivably have been the case. Long hair has no nerve endings in the follicles but anyone who has been dealt a heavy blow on the wrist of forearm will know what’s hit them."
The point is the obvious. There's a long history in tennis of players owning up to it when an incorrect call went in their favour. Even people who only pay attention during the Grand Slam events probably remember the story of what happened at the 1982 French Open, when Mats Wilander overruled the official on match point vs. José-Luis Clerc (and Wilander went on to win the replayed point and won the tournament).

However, suddenly when it happens to a outspoken player who is African-American, suddenly that's never happened. That's what you get when you have a media that is overly opinionated and undereducated.

Cheating and Racism at Roland Garros: Ahhhh, It Must Be Spring in Paris (Sports On My Mind)

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