Watching the recent US Open, we were treated to an event where few people came out looking good. One came out as collateral damage, which was sad because she had just become a champion, and one mega-star who roars like a lion on behalf of all women ended up with a huge bill for a not really big deal.
He was supposed to be the calm, cool, collected one. In fact, Carlos Ramos, the umpire, proved himself to be incautious, and perhaps a misogynist. He certainly scuttled from his seat at the end of the match anxious to avoid trial by tennis fans.
Perhaps the main casualty of the event was the woman who won it – Naomi Osaka. She played well. She was going to win. Her serve was dynamic, on occasion her returns blasted down, across and over the court. She deserved her win, but not to win like that.
Clearly, she did not want to win like that. It showed a maturity beyond her years to sidestep the question and refuse to comment when what the interviewer wanted was a spiteful comment or a misaligned statement which could define her forever after the moment.
The size of the check might be making up for it by now, but the sight of her, pulling her bag onto her shoulder and getting ready to leave the court carrying a trophy until she was rescued by the financial sponsor was a pitiful disgrace on the part of the sports authorities.
The sports organization does not come out of this well. Standing accused of racism, sexism, double standards and plain bile in the face of a maelstrom which the umpire could have dealt with not by throwing his weight about but by taking a step back and removing the heat from the situation.
Now the organization which had to be pressured to pay men and women equally is still dogged by accusations which it should have closed out years ago.
Finally, to the other champion, just not last Saturday. Did Serena Williams have a point? It is worth remembering that of all athletes, she has been the most tested for drugs, ever. She has experienced awful racism throughout her career. It is odd she was the only person penalized for something that is so widespread that all coaches admit they do, and that the penalty took place in the very last match of the tournament.
The problem is the accusation was that of cheating, and with everything that has happened in her career, it is impossible for her not to challenge. The past wins all come under suspicion if she failed to challenge. Allow that thought to make its way into the Zeitgeist and you become a Lance Armstrong level joke in moments.
Having made the point should she have stopped? Under normal circumstances maybe. In front of that sized crowd with so much at stake, it would have taken a Zen master to pull back. This was a very sad day for sport all around.