Wednesday, 2 December 2009

SerenaGate: Closure.


(Photo: AP)

"I am thankful that we now have closure on the incident," said Williams.

"I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately," she said.

"It's not the way to act - win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner."



Or something like it.

If she commits another offence in the next two years, she will incur the full wrath of the law and serve out the remainder of her ban in a State-approved County Correctional Facility.

I’m sorry.

But this all has a very “penal” feel to it and I simply don’t believe in treating athletes like common criminals.

She didn’t, as I understand it, threaten to “kill” anyone, as still continues to be misreported by some – though I do believe the meeting of “tennis balls” and “throats” was mentioned.

Just to be clear, I’m all for the fine – the initial levy of $10K or whatever it was, was small change indeed, or not even that.

Whilst it’s true she’s not the first athlete in any sport, to have a go at the officials, it’s also true that times have changed.

Tennis had a very raw, underdeveloped feel to it during the 70s and early 80s, when such behaviour might have been considered the acceptable underbelly of tennis conduct: fined, frowned upon, but otherwise overlooked.

Modern tennis, with it’s unremitting emphasis on nutrition, fitness, excellence both on and off the court, and yes conduct, takes a rather more dim view of things.

But the ITF’s statement reads like a prisoner’s conditions of release.


30 November 2009

On 9 November 2009, the Grand Slam Committee Administrator determined that Ms. Serena Williams had committed the Grand Slam Major Offence of Aggravated Behaviour for her misconduct at the 2009 US Open.

The Decision and Penalties were as follows:

1. Ms. Williams is guilty of the Major Offense of Aggravated Behaviour (Article V.A);

2. Ms. Williams is hereby fined $175,000 (including the $10,000 penalty alreadypaid) which will be reduced to $82,500 if no further Grand Slam Major Offence conviction occurs through and including 2011;

3. Ms. Williams is hereby suspended from participation in either the 2010, 2011 or 2012 US Open, as the case may be, except that any such suspension will not be imposed if no further Grand Slam Major Offence conviction occurs through and including 2011;

4. If a further Grand Slam Major Offence is committed during the period, the full penalties will be re-instated in addition to any other penalties imposed for the subsequent Grand Slam Major Offence;

5. As always, all financial penalties arising from misconduct at Grand Slam tournaments are donated by the Grand Slam tournaments to the Grand Slam Development Fund.

On 28 November 2009, the Grand Slam Committee affirmed the Decision and Penalties of the Administrator and Ms. Williams was so advised.

The Grand Slam Committee is the independent governing body responsible for, among other duties and functions, the establishment and enforcement of the Grand Slam Rules, Regulations and Code of Conduct.

I don’t like conspiracy theories, but I can’t help but feel that the tennis establishment is out to make an example of Serena for all the wrong reasons, and using measures that seem to have rather more to do with suppression than correction.

Her swagger is not always to everyone’s taste -- sometimes it's not to anyone's -- but she is what she is.

Maybe that’s what’s getting up their nose.

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