Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Please, Quit Your Day Job!

Any good tennis fan knows that these are dark days for U.S. tennis.  On the men's side, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray have a lock on the top four sports, and the American men have been anything but consistent, with Andy Roddick battling injuries and Mardy Fish and John Isner offering little hope for the future.  The women's side has been an unpredictable mess, and not just for the Americans.  For most of the past decade, Serena and Venus Williams have dominated women's tennis, but I'm pleased to see that their best days are far behind them.

For reasons I can't understand, the Williams sisters have been tremendously popular over years.  No one can deny their accomplishments or their tennis abilities, but I've always cheered wildly for their opponents and celebrated their losses.  While I don't like Venus, Serena has annoyed me even more.  This might sound harsh, but Serena has a bloated ego that rivals that of Chad Ochocino, and I can't name another athlete who consistently demonstrates less grace in defeat than Serena Williams...or one who is more out of touch with reality or farther removed from the word "sportsmanship."

There are all kinds of websites devoted to the ridiculous quotes of Serena Williams, who is famous for her refusal to give credit to her opponents after losing a match.  Here are some of my personal favorites that have shaped my opinion of Serena over the years:
  • "All she had to do was show up." (after losing to Justin Henin in the 2007 French Open)
  • "I just think she made a lot of lucky shots and I made a lot of errors." (after losing to Henin again at the U.S. Open a few months later)
  • "We all know who the real number one is. Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world." (after losing the #1 ranking in 2009)
  •  "I probably played at about twenty percent." (after losing to Caroline Wozniacki earlier this year)
Aside from the arrogance and lack of sportsmanship, there's the "out of touch with reality" angle I mentioned earlier.  The Williams sisters seem to think their greatest talents have nothing to do with a tennis racquet.  It grows very tiresome to hear tennis analysts praise their well-rounded interests while failing to acknowledge the glaringly obvious fact that their tennis fame has opened all kinds of doors that would have otherwise been slammed in their faces.

Both Venus and Serena are "aspiring fashion designers," and both are absolutely convinced that they're naturally gifted in this area.  Sure, Venus and Serena have designed clothes for major brands...but would they be getting paid to design clothes if they weren't famous tennis players?  Seems unlikely.  And Serena, in addition to her delusions of fashion grandeur, also fancies herself an aspiring actress and model.  Nothing can highlight the ridiculousness better than Serena's own words:

  • "I'm an unbelievable designer.  I don't know how I know and just do these things.  I just start sketching and then I just know the colors and I always know the forecast.  I know green and purple are going to be hot.  I was born to be a designer.  I worked hard to be a tennis player; I don't work hard to be a designer."
  • "I don't want to sound like I'm pontificating or anything, but I think I'm really good at that--I'm the best.  Besides Versace, Armani, I'm right up there."
  • "I would be really excellent in a horror film because I have a great scream.  I'd be really good in a comedy, too.  I'm top, top, top, top quality."
  • "I've been getting my reel together.  I think they are looking at me more as an actress because I have a lot of potential and a lot of skills."
  • "I'm an actress, model, and athlete, and I'd put athlete third on that list."
There are too many epic quotes to include in what is quickly becoming a lengthy blog post.  All these annoying quotes don't even cover Serena's on-court behavior, which includes her spectacularly unsportsmanlike exits from the past two U.S. Opens she's played in, which included blaming and threatening a line judge after getting called for a foot fault, and blaming an umpire who awarded a point to her opponent after Serena yelled mid-rally and interfered with the other player's shot.

 How dare you do your job!

I won't even get started on all the quotes where Serena praises her own appearance and refers to herself as "slim and sexy." One of the Serena quote websites summed it up perfectly when it implied that the only place Serena might look slim is in a fun-house mirror. Attractive? Some of the most frequently Googled Serena-related searches include "Serena is a man" and "Serena Williams gorilla." And, the cherry on top of this disgusting sundae is the Williams sisters' readiness to play the race card at the drop of a hat. Bad line call? Fans cheering against them? Bad bounce? Unfavorable draw? Must me racially motivated! Because none of those things happen to the other players...

Okay, I've ranted more than enough about why I love to see the Williams--especially Serena--lose matches. But one recent move by Serena absolutely takes the cake. What do self-absorbed celebrities do as they try to cross over from sports into the entertainment industry? I'll offer a hint: Shaq, Kobe Bryant, Deion Sanders, and Darryl Strawberry all gave it a wildly unsuccessful go.  Sadly, it's true...Serena Williams is now attempting to be a rap artist.  Here's the track.  If your speakers are broken, consider yourself lucky:

I haven't read any quotes from Serena about her rap career, but if history is any indication, I'm sure she's more than willing to tell anyone who will listen that she is the best in the world and that her skills earned her the chance to record a rap song.  One listen to the track is more than enough proof that the only reason someone let Serena Williams step food in a recording studio is because her name is Serena Williams.  Who else would be allowed to record and release a rap song with tennis-themed lyrics?

Swag out this world, you should call me Venus
That’s my sister, my name is Serena
On the court I serve 'em up, no subpoena
I cook the track up like a frozen pizza

I cringe just typing those lines.  From the bad sportsmanship and the oversize ego, to the fondness of playing the race card, to the annoying forays into fashion, acting, modeling, and now rapping, I relish the failure of the Williams sisters.  There's been plenty to celebrate lately, with Serena losing in the first round of the French Open and Venus losing in the first round of Wimbledon earlier this week. 

If Serena considers herself and actress and model more than a tennis player, I'm all for that.  I hope everyone in the sport encourages her to hang up the racquet and focus on sharing all of those other "talents" with the world.  I have no doubt that once their tennis careers are over, the Williams sisters will fade into oblivion, and tennis fans will enjoy the relative silence at all those post-match press conferences.  Now I'll just sit back and wait for Serena to lose at Wimbledon...I don't care how it happens, but for me it will likely rival the classic 2008 Federer/Nadal Wimbledon final.

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