The Williams soap opera (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday April 9, 2008 11:34AM; Updated: Wednesday April 9, 2008 12:06PM
Jon, can we expect the soon-to-be Mrs. Roddick to be going head-to-head with you on Grand Slam dark horses and finalists, instead of challenging Dr. Z?
Sure. I couldn't do much worse than Zimmerman. (And it's time someone else got burned touting "dangerous floater" GaŽl Monfils.) Incidentally, several of you asked me about Brooklyn Decker. "What is she like to work with at Sports Illustrated?" someone inquired.
Just to be clear: Though she appears in the pages of the magazine that employs me, we're not exactly colleagues. (For starters, I imagine she doesn't get the stormtrooper treatment when she fails to provide receipts for her expenses.) My friend M.J., a swimsuit issue doyenne, speaks glowingly of Roddick's intended -- which is the highest praise in my book. But otherwise, I got nothing here.
You took a question from a guy named "Ted Nugent" and didn't give him any razzing? Wow. My friend and I would like you to settle a dispute about Richard Williams' recent outburst. She says he's saying Chris Evert and Tracy Austin couldn't hit the ball, while I feel he was referring to players who have looks and personality similar to Evert and Austin, but unlike Evert and Austin, can't even hit the ball. Yes, we realize this is ridiculous, but for some reason it matters.
You know, I saw that name and started to write a snarky, throwaway line that invoked Cat Scratch Fever and the NRA executive board. Then I thought: "I'm sure if this guy had a dollar for every time someone made a dumb joke about his name, he could pay the Dubai appearance fees out of his pocket. Don't pile on." (Tom Perrotta of Tennis Magazine -- who shares a name with the prominent author of Little Children, et al -- has softened me up, too.)
Anyway, as for your other question: I'm not sure the divisive hate speech of Williams is worth parsing. But let me comment on this. A few of you sent me a link from a (generally superb) Miami columnist who chastised the tennis media for not grilling the Williams sisters about their dad's rantings:
"Venus and Serena Williams have gotten a free pass on the nonsense of their father," wrote Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. "It's time for these young women to publicly repudiate his garbage, or to endorse it with their silence ... Can you imagine if Earl Woods had said that of Jack Nicklaus? And Tiger not even being asked about it?"
I disagree on two points. First, I think the better strategy is simply to ignore this "no-good trash," to borrow a phrase. Richards Williams and Earl Woods are inevitably compared, but the analogy is a shallow one. Had Earl Woods been a notorious loose canon with a long history of distorting the truth and race-baiting, I doubt Tiger would have been called to testify.
Second, does any athlete need to be held accountable for their parents, no matter how offensive? Richard has his views but -- until he says, "Venus and Serena are with me on this" -- they are his alone. Grilling Venus and Serena puts them in the no-win position of either trashing their own dad or defending the indefensible. I'm not sure it's fair to visit the father's sins on them.