Roger Federer on Serena Williams’ US Open controversy: She ‘should have walked away’

US Open Tennis Championship 2015: Arthur Ashe Kids' Day

The 2018 tennis season has been odd, heartbreaking, infuriating and a complete spectacle. The younger guys are finally stepping up, and the icons of the sport – Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal – are all showing some signs of wear and tear. Roger covers the latest issue of The Sunday Times Magazine (the London-based weekend magazine) ahead of next week’s ATP World Tour Finals. Roger had such a weird year, and I think even he would admit that he hasn’t been playing his best. But he’s still a top-five player at the age of 37. He’s about six weeks older than Serena Williams. The two players are friends off the court, and their careers weirdly mirror each other in many respects. Well, Roger had some sh-t to say about Serena and the US Open clusterf–k that happened in the Women’s Final. If you remember, Serena lost her temper, and I’m still really salty about the way she was treated. Federer says… Serena should have walked away. Some highlights:

On his marriage to Mirka & their four kids: He said changing “a ton of nappies” between matches was worth it to live his “dream” with Mirka. He said: “I refuse to leave the bed with my wife. We always wanted to have kids, but my dream was to be with [her] and not in another bedroom on another floor. I’d rather sleep with kids screaming than away from my wife.”

On Serena v. Carlos Ramos at the US Open: “I feel like Serena should have walked away. She did, but she went too far. She should have walked earlier.” Federer did, however, say Williams’ actions were “a little bit excusable”. He added: “The umpire maybe should not have pushed her there. It’s unfortunate, but an incredible case study.”

On female tennis players being held to different on-court dress codes: “What was the problem with [Alize Cornet] taking the shirt off or the [Serena] catsuit? Serena has worn crazier stuff in the past. Guys have worn crazier stuff. For me it was all a bit of nonsense. I was totally on the women’s side. Leave them alone. They are not coming on court with wings.”

[From The BBC and The Mirror]

I’m a little bit disappointed in Federer for not giving a more full-throated defense of Serena. I mean, yes, she lost her temper. Yes, she could have and should have walked away. But Roger has lost his temper on court too, and he’s never faced such serious repercussions. Plus, there’s a tangled history of racism and sexism with Serena in the sport specifically, as Roger well knows. You know who still had the best take on the US Open sh-t? John McEnroe, hand to God. His take was basically: yes, Serena could have handled everything better, but Serena absolutely should have been treated better too.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.

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16 Responses to “Roger Federer on Serena Williams’ US Open controversy: She ‘should have walked away’”

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  1. Veronica S. says:

    I can deal with his statement. He’s being honest that she lost her temper and isn’t perfect, but he’s also acknowledging how the incident was incited by the umpire’s behavior. She had a reason to be mad even if she didn’t handle it perfectly, which allows her the agency of being a human being in the conflict.

    Short of showing up in a bikini, I could seriously care less what women wear on the court. Who gives a sh*t if they’re playing the game right?

  2. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I played a lot of tennis in my younger years, state-ranked, plenty of tennis camps and fours hours daily practice. And let me tell you, it was damned hard not to lose my shit lol. Ninety-nine percent of my outbursts were directed at me and stupid mistakes. If cameras had been on me, I’d be doing a lot of apologizing, so I’ve never held occasional loss of control against players. It’s emotional! Yes, walking it off is the thing to do. But……

  3. anp says:

    Agree with Roger.

  4. Lolamd says:

    I was disappointed in him when I read the initial headlines but now I understand what he is saying.

  5. Tina says:

    I love Roger, but sometimes he sounds like a robot. An “incredible case study?” Who says that?

    • Goldie says:

      Yeah, the wording of the interview was strange. It almost sounded as if it was conducted in another language and then translated into English.

  6. HK9 says:

    I don’t agree with him. Men loose their shit all the time. I’m tired of black women having to always take it on the chin and smile. They think because you’re black you should just be glad to be here and be quiet. She get to express herself just like anyone else.

    • Go Figure! says:

      HK9: I must agree. If he’s supposed to be a friend of Serena’s, this is the way you defend a friend. Johnny Mac did worse back in the day and he was never penalized like Serena was. Roger just lost a fan.

      • Sarah says:

        Uh, McEnroe was penalized all the time, and oftentimes worse than Serena was. Either you don’t know anything about professional tennis or you are just pushing a silly narrative.

  7. Catherine says:

    Im taking my foot off McEnroe’s neck FOR NOW

  8. Jane says:

    “But Roger has lost his temper on court too, and he’s never faced such serious repercussions.”

    Federer has gotten 3+ violations in GS matches before. He’ll, when he was young and bratty he’d rack that up in minutes.

    I’m not sure why people act like the penalties Serena got were unheard of. It’s really common for players to get one violation and for that to quickly spiral into a handful because they start doing things like smashing racquets and swearing in response. Less common in GS finals, but that’s as much about players trying to be on their best behaviour as it is about refs cutting them slack. This particular umpire doesn’t cut anyone any slack, and he’s handed out violations to male players during GS finals multiple times before, for more minor violations.

    • Apalapa says:

      Isn’t it odd though that the only people he has ever penalized a full game are Serena and Venus? I mean, you are telling me the Williams sisters have been the only ones to get to that level of anger/escalation? Doesn’t pass the smell test.

    • Sarah says:

      “I’m not sure why people act like the penalties Serena got were unheard of.”

      Because narrative.

  9. Cora says:

    One, white and or male privilege is so tricky sometimes, It’s hard for people to have empathy if they havent felt discrimination.
    Two, is it me or Federer looks a lot like a young Robin Williams?

  10. Navyluv1 says:

    Roger needs to mind his business!