Serena's day in court
Oh no! Not another opinion regarding how Serena Williams ought or ought not to have behaved at the US Open Women’s Final this year.
Uhuh. Yes. Cannot help it. Must do a chinta.
I became fascinated with Serena in the early 2000s. And I was far from being an avid tennis fan; I knew nought about the game or its nuances.
Serena from Compton, L.A., the Black-American tough, agile home- schooled tennis player, was the antithesis of all that I was conditioned or expected to idealise, as in the good family, forsha, demure, soft spoken girl, who excels in academics, and demonstrates restraint in all else.
Serena was between her early to middle twenties at that time, when she held all four Grand Slam titles, which was referred to as the Serena Slam. This is when the ideal girl would have remained befittingly in her degree program or completed it.
As Serena would be practising her drills on the tennis courts, the ideal girl, despite having been enrolled in a highly ranked foreign university and settled in well with many friends, would have retained her deshi culture and never forgotten the manners and etiquette her parents taught her.
While Serena would be aiming a volley of powerful serves to annihilate her opponents,the ideal girl would be blushing at the mention of a prospective husband, and would unobjectionably be conceding to the wise murubbis to decide her wedded fate, as they would certainly be knowing what was in her best interests.
I suppose Serena and the ideal girl intersected at a certain point, neither strayed from their families. While Serena drew upon her parents’ strength to break boundaries, the ideal girl depended on her parents’standards to remain within them. Hold that thought, please.
At present, Serena Williams is mired in controversy. Was her “outburst” at the match justified? Was she just being a sore loser? Did the umpire mete out unfair punishment? Was her coach at fault? Was she taking attention away from Osaka? And so on and so forth…there are opinions and counter opinions and counter counter opinions. Sigh. Isn’t that just typical.
What saddens me is that instead of focusing on all her achievements and the fact that she was close to winning her 24th Grand Slam, all her past misconduct is being regurgitated. Is that necessary? She lost to Osaka and she was fined for her misbehaviour. Can we just leave it at that? Or better still, focus on the gender disparities in the tennis arena.
No. Because Serena is a woman, ato kotha bolar dorkar chilona. Because she raised her voice, metaphorically too, she must now be portrayed as a bully, a brat, emotional, unsportsmanlike, etc. Because she confronted the umpire in full view of the international media, she must be attention seeking. Because she lost the match, she must not be able to handle her defeat.
Or maybe this was her khobordar! Ato boro shahosh moment. The same old story. There is a time and a place for women to speak out. Jaiga moton, manush bujhe. Otherwise there are consequences.
Well, I would like to say that Serena did not evolve into Serena by remaining within boundaries, like the ideal girl. She is a tennis superstar today because she has always challenged the status quo(as did Osaka too, and countless other female athletes). She is a woman and a tennis player who has defied convention. And therefore, it is pointless using convention to define her.
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.