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Serena deserves the criticism
Predictably, the excuses for Serena Williams’ classless Olympics Crip Walk on the grounds of Wimbledon’s Centre Court poured in all weekend.
Fear of appearing uncool, sexist or racist stops a healthy segment of America from ever criticizing the Queen of Tennis. And then there are Serena’s black defenders, the delusional hypocrites who believe the solution to racism is to respond to any indiscretion committed by an African-American with the same kind of irrational blind denial white bigots offer up in defense of their unfairness.
So over the weekend we were reminded that white former NBA player Brent Barry Crip Walked during the 2003 NBA All-Star 3-point contest without provoking controversy or criticism. Some clown at the Washington Post absolved Serena by pointing out the now-traditional, pre-Olympics torch relay was Hitler’s invention during the 1936 Berlin Games. And, of course, you had your usual number of white journalists who covered Serena’s gold-medal thumping of Maria Sharapova who simply pretended they had no clue what Serena’s celebratory jig was (presumably because they lost Internet access and missed the Twitter explosion caused by her dance).
Now, I’m not writing this column to castigate Serena Williams and define her as some sort of plague on the sports world. I like Serena. A lot. She’s one of my favorite athletes of all time. Her post-match Crip Walk wasn’t akin to Ron Artest going into the stands at The Palace or Tonya Harding having a friend attack Nancy Kerrigan or Joe Paterno helping Penn State handle Jerry Sandusky “humanely.”
What Serena did was akin to cracking a tasteless, X-rated joke inside a church. It wasn’t quite as bad but it was in the same ballpark of the idiot sportswriter who decided to channel Andrew Dice Clay on Twitter the night Jeremy Lin channeled Allen Iverson.
Serena deserved to be criticized and she should’ve immediately apologized. Wimbledon isn’t the place to break out a dance popularized by California Crip gang members. She knows it. That’s why she got embarrassed when asked by reporters to reveal the name of the dance.
Crip Walking inside an NBA arena that is routinely filled with the sounds of edited versions of popular gangsta rap songs is different from Crip Walking at Wimbledon. That fact has nothing to do with race. It has to do with tradition and atmosphere. Wimbledon is a sports church, falsely prim, proper and respectful.
As for Hitler’s torch relay? He’s not the first, nor will he be the last, reprehensibly evil man who came up with one good idea. Bringing Hitler into a discussion of Serena’s inappropriate behavior is bizarrely insecure at best and insanely irrational at worst. If Hitler is the standard, no one is capable of wrongdoing worthy of rebuke.
Again, Serena deserved to be called out. What she did was immature and classless. She made a mistake, something we all do.
It’s my belief it was a premeditated mistake. Serena has never been given her proper respect at Wimbledon. She’s the best women’s tennis player of this generation and perhaps all time. Playing Centre Court at Wimbledon is a big deal, an honor reserved for the best, the biggest stars. Wimbledon has always found ways to keep Serena off Centre Court at odd times. A couple of years ago, the Queen visited Wimbledon for the first time in 33 years. Serena was the reigning Wimbledon champion. She practiced her curtsy in anticipation of playing in front of the Queen at Centre Court. Wimbledon placed Serena on Court 2 and let one of the fashionable white girls play Centre Court in front of the Queen.
Obviously, I can’t read Serena’s mind. But my hunch is Serena got really fired up for her gold-medal showdown with Maria Sharapova, the thin white super model who just happens to be a terrific tennis player.
I bet in a private moment Friday night or Saturday morning, Serena told her sister Venus, “I’m going to kick this $*%& ass and Crip Walk all over this crusty-ass place.”
Saturday was Serena’s justifiable F-U revenge at Wimbledon. She was going to complete her Golden Slam and give the snobs at Wimbledon a taste of the Compton girl they fear. She tried to play the game Wimbledon’s way -- practicing her curtsy years ago -- and the old stodgy place rejected her. So, with the world watching and Venus giggling in the stands, Serena cracked a joke on Wimbledon.
It was a mistake. It boomeranged into a joke on Serena. It became a moment that overshadowed the brilliance of her destruction of Sharapova.
Rather than deflect the justifiable criticism aimed her direction with silly false equivalencies, we should demand that Serena not do dumb (spit) that gets in the way of people recognizing her greatness.
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