Injured and angry, tennis pro Serena Williams threw a world class temper tantrum after losing her quarterfinals match in the Australian open to 19-year-old Sloane Stephens, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. The world’s number three ranked women’s tennis player wasn’t happy with her performance and took her frustration out on her defenseless Wilson racket by beating it to death with great relish. Her behavior resulted in a $1500 fine and a splendid photo op for the dozens of sports photographers who witnessed the event.
Williams arrived in Australia riding a monumental win streak, losing only one match in the last eight months, and she entered the Open as the overwhelming favorite. Sadly, the tournament quickly turned into a nightmare for Serena after she injured her ankle during her first match at the Melbourne Park Stadium. Serena was hoping to win the women’s singles title for the sixth time in her career, which would have left her five wins short of Australian great Margaret Smith Court, who won the tournament a record 11 times.
During the match with Stephens, the 31 year old Williams compounded her suffering when she experienced severe back spasms after winning the first set. Grumbling to herself as the match started to slip away, Williams did a slow boil until she finally exploded and demolished yet another racket.
One of the world’s most talented athletes, Serena has an outstanding career record, winning 30 Grand Slam titles and an Olympic Gold Medal. Despite all her success, Williams also has a history of angry episodes, including her stunning loss of control at the 2009 US Open. On that occasion, after being called for a foot fault to give her opponent match point, Serena took out her anger on the line judge; spitting, swearing and smashing her racket.
Although the exact words she used in 2009 have never been publicly disclosed by US Open officials, Williams is reported to have told the shocked line judge, “‘If I could, I would take this **** ball and shove it down your **** throat.’ She had already been warned for smashing her racket earlier in the set and her obscenity laden outburst resulted in a forfeit of the important semi-final match and a $10,000 fine.
Watching Serena lose control hearkens back to the bad old days of men’s professional tennis when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors entertained the crowds with their antics. They would routinely pound the court with their rackets over missed shots, terrorize the balls boys for not moving fast enough, and scream insults at the officials over close calls.
Perhaps some people enjoy watching these displays at a tennis match, but many fans believe it is highly unprofessional and unfair to the opponent. Fans who enjoy this sort of behavior remind us of the person who only goes to a hockey game for the fights.
For her part, Serena took it all in stride, asking one reporter if he enjoyed her handiwork:
“Did you see it. I even had a wry smile on my lips after that. It made me happy, unfortunately.”