The previous two articles go into detail on how emotions play a bigger role in sports like football and baseball, but they are shown through rivalries within the respective sports. When it comes to the case of Serena Williams, emotion is more than a familial bond or pride. It’s standing up for herself, along with every other woman who plays the game of tennis.
Women have been given the short end of the stick when it comes to being considered equal. They have fought for the rights to vote, and to be seen as equal. They are still fighting for equal pay within the workforce today. Sexism is a real thing in this world, and Williams is bringing the topic to light in the realm of sports.
Women and Emotion
On Sept. 8, 2018, Williams was fighting for another championship at the US Open. According to theguardian.com, Carlos Ramos penalized Williams on three separate occasions, leading to an outburst that many felt was justified. Ramos, the chair umpire, first penalized Williams for getting coaching advise during a match.
Frustration built during the match, and Williams slammed the racket down, causing it to break. This was the second time that Ramos penalized Williams, which resulted in Williams losing a point. Williams finally had enough with Ramos and preceded to call him a thief and a liar. This outburst cost Williams a game, and the eventual loss of the match.
While it seems like Ramos was just following the rules of tennis, Williams made an interesting point about the way women and men are treated differently by the officials in the article by The Guardian.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” she said. “I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’, and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’.”
Double-Standards in Sports
Williams wasn’t the only person who noticed the discrepancies between the way men and women are treated. The article continued to say that Victoria Azarenka, a two-time champion at the Australian Open and a two-time runner up for the US Open, is behind Williams all the way.
“If it was men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t,” said Azarenka. Having played the game of tennis, she has seen other women, and men, play at the professional level. She has seen what happens during the game, and she believes that Williams is speaking the truth about umpires being sexist in the sport of tennis.
Another player, or former player, who weighed in on the even was Billie Jean King. According to the article, King was a big part of getting the women’s tennis tour started, and was on the driving end of getting women equal pay for winning the contests. She also stated a few things about the match that coincide with Williams viewpoint.
The article showed multiple tweets that were sent out by King, but one of them is meant to pay homage to Williams for what she did for the sport of tennis with her outburst.
“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 @serenawilliams for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”
Okay for Men, Not Women?
This quote shows that emotions are perceived differently between the way women and men should play sports. This fact is backed up in an article by Kurt Bardella of USA Today. Bardella gives examples of men being overly emotional and being praised for it. He drives that point home in the very first paragraph of the article.
Watch any male sports pregame show and you are bound to see some kind of video montage opening the broadcast filled with clips of superstars showing intense emotions.”
Bardella continued the article, using an example from baseball to show that breaking one’s racquet, or bat in this case, isn’t penalized in male sports. Bardella used Chris Davis, the first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, as his example. Davis is known for striking out, just look at his stat line. However, like many baseball players, frustration even gets to those who fail quite frequently. Davis showed his frustration by breaking a perfectly good bat over his thigh. There are no penalties in baseball for doing such.
By showing that it is okay in male sports to be aggressive and damaging to equipment, Bardella emphasizes the point that Williams was the target for sexism.
While emotions are a rarity to see in sports, and women’s tennis in particular, they are a part of the sport. Players are going to get frustrated. They will break things, yell, cheer, and yell at the umpires. The incident involving Williams shows that women aren’t allowed to show their emotions during sporting events, but they feel them more. They have outside influences to deal with. Influences that have no place in athletics. Williams showed the women can be just as fiery as men, and while the umpires might not like it, it is true.
Williams stated in the article by The Guardian that she is going to continue to fight for women, and after the success she has had on the court, women are in good hand.