Serena Williams on abusive male tennis players: ‘I would probably be in jail if I did that’

Serena Williams is still promoting her successful venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, and their inaugural fund of $111 million. That’s why Serena appeared on CNBC last week, and why she spoke to the New York Times, although the Times referred to her as “tennis star” instead of her name, and they used a photo of Venus in the story. Well, a purple-clad Serena also appeared on PBS, being interviewed by Christiane Amanpour. In one of the segments, Serena was asked about double-standards on the court, especially given Alexander Zverev’s recent attack on a chair umpire just after a doubles match in Mexico. Zverev was only fined for the incident and it doesn’t look like any suspension is forthcoming. Here’s what Serena had to say:

Her quote about the Zverev situation is: “There is absolutely a double-standard! I would probably be in jail if I did that. Literally, no joke. So, yeah, I was actually on probation once…” While she doesn’t go into details, I think she was on probation after the 2009 US Open incident, when she kept getting called for “phantom” foot faults (foot faults which the commentators didn’t even see on slow-mo) and Serena lost her temper on the line judge. We still don’t know exactly what Serena said to the line judge, but it was something along the lines of “I’m going to shove this ball down your f–king throat.” I mean, that was threatening! But it was a verbal threat, and Serena paid a huge fine and (as she now says) she was likely on probation for a while after that. Zverev physically menaced a chair umpire and repeatedly slammed a racquet into the chair, almost hitting the umpire’s feet. And no probation for Zverev, even though there have also been credible accusations of domestic violence against him as well.

Serena also talked about “getting to 24,” as in getting to 24 Slams. Technically (eyeroll) Margaret Court has “24 Slams” and therefore the record, but many of Court’s Slam titles are pre-Open Era, meaning… she was winning the Australian Open many years with almost zero competition, just playing local Aussies in small draws. Those titles are not the same. Serena says she’s still playing (WHERE, WHEN) and that she’s “not giving up” even though she basically sounds retired. She also says that she feels like she should already be at 30 Slams. I mean… maybe 30 is a stretch, but I could easily argue that she should be at 26 or 27.

And here’s Serena talking about her father and the film King Richard.

Relevant videos:

Screencaps courtesy of PBS.

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26 Responses to “Serena Williams on abusive male tennis players: ‘I would probably be in jail if I did that’”

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  1. Esmerelda says:

    Honestly, who cares about the 24 slams? She’s the GOAT, she’s had one of the greatest careers in tennis since ever, her name will be the standard to whom new players are held (“could she be the new Serena?”), she’s earned her semi-retirment – I look forward to her playing doubles, though.

    • Fernanda says:

      I agree with you. It’s just a number, doesn’t mean anything in real life. I will remember Serena in 30, 40 years, vividly. Because of her persinality that she showed to the world. And some other players who were also good, but lacked charisma, unfortunately no one remembers even when they have numerous slams.

    • Gillysirl says:

      She is the GOAT. Men’s tennis is being destroyed by a**hole players and ones like Andy Murray can only do so much.

      Serena’s dad did so much more than teach them to play tennis, he taught them character and values.

    • Nic919 says:

      Margaret Court’s record isn’t even a fair one to use because it includes Australian championships before the open era where few people would bother travelling to Australia.

      The weird part is that no one ever brought up this number when Steffi Graff was racking up Slams and Serena managed to beat Graff’s record, which was done in the open era with real competition the entire time.

      • mm2 says:

        Not exactly true, it was brought up a bit with Steffi, but just at the end of her career. Steffi retired surprisingly at 30 in 1999 with 22 grand slam wins the last being the French Open the year she retired. It was discussed but they didn’t even bring this up with Serena till she was up to 23 wins either. Now Serena has been 1 back from the record since the 2017 Australian Open and she is still playing at a top level and had a few chances in finals to get it. I think the talk has been so much cause of time and let’s be honest pretty much everyone thinks she is going to do it. Now maybe not as much, but it really did seem like she was destined to win not long ago. I still feel like she’ll get it. It doesn’t matter for Serena, but wouldn’t it be nice to have Margaret Court off that record.

        As far as GOAT I think it’s kind of crazy to compare cause circumstances, equipment, and competitors are different. In this case, I mean Steffi really was fast in achieving the amount of wins, at 30 Serena only had 13 grand slams to Steffi’s 22. Steffi retired young, compared to Serena. Now do you give more points to the one who kept playing at such a high level for 10 more years or to the one who won quickly. I think they were both amazing. The only true GOAT I see in any major sport is Wayne Gretzky. Mainly because he decimated hockey records and he was just so far ahead of any player. Only 2 of his 61 NHL records have been broken since he retired in 1999. That’s the only GOAT I see in any sports.The others just have a greatest player of their time status and I’d say Serena is that since Steffi left in 1999, which oddly was the first year Serena won a grand slam.

      • Eleanor says:

        I see your & mm2 points. So much changes over time in sports; its hard to compare the most successful players.

        Steffi is one of my all time favorite players. Her style of play and her ability to overcome her father’s BS are a couple reasons why. She is the only (I think) player to win a calendar Golden Slam. But some of her success has to be seen in the context of Monica Seles’ stabbing. Monica was her key rival at the time and the injury took her out of play for ?? can’t remember – long time for an athlete.

  2. Julia K says:

    She is absolutely right about that double standard in sports. Boys can get away with testosterone fueled violence after a bad call or a loss, while girl’s emotions are dismissed as ” that time of month”. This has been my experience after many years of being a ” skating mom” , then a granny who has observed sports from many angles.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      It’s been tolerated and “accepted” since Bobby Riggs, followed by the tantrums of McEnroe. The list of entitled and raging tempers have been ignored for decades but they want to be revered, for what? Leaving behind a legacy of bad sportsmanship.

      Serena being penalized continue to be dealt with with a heavier hand will always be an issue. She has 2 strikes against her; POC and a woman. But make no mistake, she is the GOAT!!

      • Duch says:

        Don’t forget Jimmy Connors and IlieNastase in your legacy line-up, not to mention other more current examples…

      • Deering24 says:

        One of the many reasons I can’t stand McEnroe is how he suddenly became this pious, by-the-book Grand Old Man Of Tennis commentator when he was one of the worst-behaved players in tennis history. He has a nerve dragging anyone.

  3. hindulovegod says:

    She’s right about the double standard and how little tennis does about it. After the debacle in her final with Osaka, Sports Illustrated compiled data on the officials. Women and minorites were held to a very different standard of rules, given faults and points deducted at a much higher rate. Serena and Venus most of all. Tennis swept it under the rug. Now white male players are ruining the game with their violence, not to mention being openly coached without being deducted points. Just warnings upon warnings and chance after chance for the white boys. So gross.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      That’s extremely interesting and disturbing on so many levels, of the Sports Illustrated findings. I wonder if the Tennis League read the article? Hopefully they were sent a copy. The blatant racism, and misogyny, is apparent to the supporters of the game and spectators blatantly see it.

  4. LaraW” says:

    God, when I think of all the racist, sexist bullshit she’s had to put up with as a Black athlete in a space that was, at the time (and is still), dominated by whites— and all the criticism of her body on top of that (not feminine enough, not slender enough). And all the daily racist microaggressions.

    And now she’s breaking into another space dominated by mostly white males— so much respect. I hope that as more Black women enter these spaces, we stop policing the way that Black women earn and spend their own money.

  5. TheOriginalMia says:

    She’s absolutely right. Tennis officials and commentators would have dragged her for months. I feel like talk stopped within days. This won’t be mentioned ad nauseum like Serena’s US Open incident. No cartoons or op eds. Nope. None of that. Zverev will continue to break the rules and tennis will turn their back on his abusive behavior. Same goes for former #1 Novak Djokovic.

  6. TIFFANY says:

    *reads headline to story*

    No lie there.

    *watch interview*

    Oh, definitely no lie there.

  7. Steph says:

    Wow, she’s really gracious. It makes the double standard that much more glaring to me.

  8. HoofRat says:

    One one hand, we have a compelling interview with a freaking goddess who struggles constantly with racism and sexism; on the other we have a bachelorette party for a rich entitled POS who has never done a lick of work in her life, and whose greatest achievement was posting an instagram photo showing her flipping the bird at an Obama marionette. The fact that the former still has to prove herself every blessed day while the latter isn’t completely ignored certainly defines what’s wrong with our society.

  9. Jaded says:

    She is simply magnificent.

    • HoofRat says:

      Apologies, Jaded; when I saw this post earlier today, it as followed by a number of links to other stories, including one about Paulina Gretzky’’s bachelorette party.

      • Jaded says:

        No need to apologize HoofRat…I doubt many of us here at CB give a fat rat’s clackers about Paulina Gretzky. It’s a real shame she’s basically turned into a budget Kardashian when her father is one of the greatest hockey players of all time and a genuinely nice guy. But we all worship Serena as the goddess she truly is!

  10. jferber says:

    Sorry, HoofRat, what “bachelorette” are you speaking about?

    • Jaded says:

      She’s talking about Paulina Gretzky…she basically parties and postures for a living funded by her dad, a truly amazing hockey player and nice guy. She got dragged big time for posting an IG photo of herself giving the middle finger to an Obama puppet. She’s a useless piece of rich trash.

  11. Sour Pasoa says:

    I keep wondering what S en V have done to their faces? That almost subtle looking tweek is becoming very obvious, now that it has ‘sunk’ in..

    Me and S almost look alike and have the bodytype. for me its very obvious

    • SAS says:

      I think it’s a case of getting refreshers too close to the media appearance so they haven’t had the chance to settle. I’m not sure how far in advance this kind of interview is booked but I’ll often notice stiffer Botox in this kind of appearance rather than award shows etc where people can prepare their maintenance schedules 9 months in advance.

      I think she still looks totally stunning, especially that first thumbnail.

  12. kirk says:

    Thanks for including the foot fault video, where we see classic Serena move – to graciously congratulate her opponent after frustrating row with obtuse, inflexible judging (Kim Clijsters here, later Naomi Osaka at 2018 US Open).

  13. Sour Pasoa says:

    They do Sas. But V went to an award show last week and even the wig couldn’t hide it. So I looked back at the last pics of S and thought, they must be tried it together. The tweeks look very subtle..