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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I Already Liked Serena Williams

This is a great post-match interview after what sounds like a tough match against a hot opponent and a hostile crowd. The headline really does not capture what seems to be the flavor of her comments:

...She [Henin-Hardenne] played very well today and probably deserved to win. She was the better player today. But it gets rather annoying if your not serving well anyway and you miss your first serve and everybody's booing and screaming.

"I've got to be stronger next time," she added. "I don't think being a American right now had anything to do with it. I don't think what is going on between France and America right now had much to do with it.

"I think sometimes you just want the underdog to win.

"Do I feel under-appreciated? I think all champions are. Martina Navratilova was at the top, no-one appreciated her until she retired. Steffi Graf (news) as well I think.

"I think it's just something the greatest have to live with, and I'm really okay with that role."

First of all, this was smart. She will be back at Paris plenty of times, and there is no need to annoy everyone. But not everyone is poised enough to remember that sort of thing right after a match.

The greatest post game interviewee I have ever seen is Derek Jeter. I remember he was intercepted as he came off the field, having just been named World Series MVP. Someone stuck a microphone in his face and asked him how he felt. The greatest shorstop in the history of the Yankees spoke for at least two minutes. He praised Torre, Steinbrenner, Rivera, Posada, Williams, several other teammates, and some of the coaches. Never mentioned himself.

There is no "I" in T-E-A-M. Although too many athletes find the "M" and the "E".

UPDATE: From Harvey Araton of the now-rehabilitated NY Times: "Serena Williams lost her composure in a theater of howling fools. She and her Grand Slam streak deserved far more appreciation and respect upon its end."

Come September, some of these players will be in NY for the US Open. Fans will be exhorted to forgive and forget, and cheer for athletes, not countries. I will mostly agree with that.

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