In a match riddled with antics and plagued with controversy, women’s tennis superstar Serena Williams competed for her 24th Grand Slam title Saturday. Outplayed on this particular day, and making several mistakes in crucial moments, Williams was bested by Japanese player Naomi Osaka.
Osaka’s performance would place her in tennis history as the first Japanese player to ever see victory in the US Open. Unfortunately for her, she would not be allowed to celebrate her momentous triumph. Her success would be pushed to the background by the unsportsmanlike, verging on farcical, behavior of her opponent.
For the duration of the match and the tournament, Williams set herself up to fail. Smashing two rackets in a 48-hour span, double-faulting at a crucial moment late in the match and having more than three outbursts at the chair official, Williams spiraled deeper into her own frustrations.
Williams would go on to do what any modern sportsman or celebrity would be expected to do: defend her actions by blaming her defeat on institutional biases against women in sports.
The official was a sexist “thief,” and he had stolen the match away from her.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality… For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark,” Williams said of the officiating, “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
The social justice mob would follow suit, taking to the internet to bolster claims that the sexist double standard which somehow plagues every facet of our lives had now tainted the world of women’s tennis as well.
The most heavily lofted complaint circulated in the hours following the US Open final was that media coverage of sports biases itself against women in the way it portrays and refers to female emotional responses in sports.
“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ & and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same,” tweeted woman’s tennis legend Billie Jean King.
Similar tweets were made by pundits and media heads such as Joshua Billinson, lead editor at the Independent Journal Review, who called for everyone to reflect on the double standard present in sports reporting.
At base, their claim is simple: When a female athlete argues with an official, it’s a meltdown. When a male does it, it’s just part of the game.
Two key problems with this assertion? It blatantly disregards key contextual factors at play in the coverage of the US Open, and it’s just plain false.
Factually speaking, on multiple occasions, the media called male sports uproars for the tantrums they were. Recent examples can be found in Aaron Boone’s MLB suspension for what was deemed to be a “tirade” against officials, or The New York Post’s use of the term “epic meltdown” in regard to men’s tennis star Daniil Medvedev’s tantrum this past March.
More important even than the falseness of claims like King and Billinson’s is the context.
Sports like tennis and golf pride themselves in upholding a level of class and decorum unseen in all other sports.
Sporting events like baseball, American football and hockey carry with them an expectation of mass heckling and negative energy in the stands. These games are rougher. Scraps, scrums and arguments with officials come with the territory.
The expectation of sportsmanship, positive atmosphere and class is far greater on the tennis court or at the links. Fans are expected to be silent as sets and strokes are played out; The athletes always come together and shake hands.
Tennis simply expects a far different crowd and sporting atmosphere than most other sports. The reputation of the game revolves around said environment in many cases.
This presents a key problem for athletes like Serena Williams who, despite constantly being included in the conversation as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, are infamous for unsportsmanlike language and actions.
In fact, Williams is so infamous for her meltdown antics that fans of the game have compiled minutes upon minutes of video of her smashing rackets and tossing them aside in frustration. She has on numerous occasions been warned that her use of expletives and raised voice with officials will not be tolerated.
Yet she proceeds to make a fool of herself in her lowest moments — moments in which most coaching professionals say sportsman show their true colors.
Williams and the social justice left’s circus regarding the US Open results are indicative not only of a modern inability to claim responsibility for failure but more importantly of the modern left’s need lay blame for shortcomings at the feet of institutions rather than individuals.
Everyone must be a winner. If someone loses or faces a challenge, particularly if they are a woman or person of color, there must have been institutional bias or misdeed that caused it.
This is the social justice left’s hypothesis. Their findings? The result of being unable to win or uphold that higher standard is an injustice; an attack on one’s own identity.
Social justice culture operates in the gray area generated in the ensuing discourse, championing the party unjustly treated and painting those who disagree with them as misogynists and bigots.
At some point, however, Americans must put their foot down and call the field as they see it. Serena Williams lost, and not gracefully.
The officials found issue not with her identity, but with her blatant disregard for decorum. To allow the narrative around the US Open result to reflect anything different would serve just one party in all this; the social justice left.
Journalistic preservation of such truths is the only logical cure for their incessant need to play identity politics in every facet of American life.
Andrew J. Sciascia is an undergraduate Criminal Justice and Political Science double major at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is the managing editor for the Connector student newspaper and has previously contributed opinion pieces to The Western Journal and The Daily Caller.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.