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Please make sports reporting about sports
My rules- If media wishes to keep sports clean from politician's interference, first it has to show willingness to keep politically correct reporters out of sports journalism and hand over the job to those who love the sports for what it is, and not see it merely as a bully pulpit to stand on to preach their particularly aggressive brand of liberal politics.

A Times of India article by one Siddharth Saxena published yesterday about Champion tennis player Serena Williams is almost a text book study on the liberal bullying politics pervading all spheres of social life and hence warrants a response.

An annoying fact check break first- The article states Serena is 33, actually she turned 35 this September, not important in context of the article but still it irritates me that a national newspapers carries articles without doing this basic homework.

An even bigger gaffe comes towards the end when the writer refers to her as a 26 time Grand Slam winner. Serena is a 21 times Grand slam winner (if you are referring to only singles) and 36 times Grand Slam Winner (if you count titles in doubles as well).

So this article has either added Maria Sharapova's entire Grand Slam tally (5)to Serena (case 1) or short charged her with the entire tally of Monica Seles (10, case 2). To serious tennis fans, people who love tennis, not just for stat Nazis, this is serious, serious error. And it underlines my point what happens when publications allow people without interest in sports to write about it.

Saxena opens with "Serena Williams will remain an outsider in sports as long as male dominated society's perceptions on race and gender, body-shape and femininity continue to be what they are- medieval, suspicious and outright chauvinistic" ouch !! Normally when bullies begin their rant, they at least warm up, Saxena serves a 200 mph as an opener.

Too bad, it is so way off the mark that if this was tennis court (assuming he has seen one), the ball after leaving his racket would have hit the nose-bleed section. Outsider? Serena Williams? The woman who has her own fashion clothing line and earns millions and millions of dollars of endorsement money other than her prize money?

Serena endorses Gaotrade, Ford, Tampax and Nabisco and her endorsement income last year (something that Times mentioned only for male tennis players but left out for Serena) was 13 million dollars, higher than her prize money which stood at 11.3 million dollars.

In the late 70s and 80s after she came out Martina Navratilova lost out on lot of endorsements due to her sexual orientation and suffered financial and social ostracization. Amelie Mauresmo after she came out at the 1999 Australian open final was subjected to ridicule and taunts by her colleagues on the tour for several years. Serena Williams is a main stream, leading athlete in the world. Anybody who follows tennis more than a little casual interest will agree with me.

Saxena continues bashing all men throughout. He cites Floyd Merryweather and Tyson Fury as typical examples of misogynist male athletes who bash women and gays. Surprising that he should switch disciplines and go to boxing to sample male athletes when he could have stayed on tennis and found Andy Murray who is coached by a gay woman tennis player; Amelie Mauresmo, and who has steadfastly defended her coaching even while it was blamed for his losses. Matter of fact, Saxena would struggle to find a single male Top 20 player who has anything other than effusive praise for the charismatic Serena. So sorry Saxenaji, the misogyny you came looking for ain't here.

The writer then praises Serena for her stand on issues like equal prize money for women, a feminist favourite cause which finds no takers among genuine tennis thinkers due to the obvious difference in levels of physicality and effort needed in men's and women's tennis. He also states that Serena is alone in raising her voice against discrimination against her community in the criminal justice system and police violence against blacks. Alone? Oh you meant she is the only Grand Slam winning active American tennis player to raise her voice? That might be true, but does it mean she stands alone against discrimination in USA? She would have practically all of the Hollywood as company to start with.

Also I take strong objection to the writer's assertion that somehow a tennis player with correct political views is superior to one who has no interest in politics at all. This is the worst form of politicization of sports that is.

The writer draws parallels between Serena and another great black athlete, the former heavyweight champion Ali on the basis of the influence they had on their times because of their political views. Like a true feminist he feels the comparison will make the former heavyweight champ proud. Ah but will comparison to a man married 4 times and who divorced his first wife because she did not like the restriction on dress code his religion put on her and a man who said "women are not meant for boxing" when his own daughter wanted to follow his footsteps make Serena proud?

Oh and Mr. Saxena while you mentioned Ali's stand on Vietnam war (courageous as it was) you very conveniently left out his decade long association with the notorious Nation of Islam, his silence for well over 10 years over the NOI's involvement in the assassination of another civil rights leader Malcolm X. Would Serena ever hound and inflict psychological scars on another black athlete, like Ali did with Frasier with his "gorilla" taunts, only because Frasier said simply "Politics is a little out of line for me"? I hope not.

Most ridiculous of his rant comes at the end when he claims Serena had to constantly fight demons and prejudices from her own sporting community? Oh really? Like when she threatened to kill a ball girl (an Asian woman, another minority like herself) at the US open 2009 while her opponent Kim Clijsters stood as a mute spectator? Or like how every single male singles champion routinely sings praises for her in the routine post tournament interviews? I am sure there is prejudice in sports against women, there might be more prejudice against black women, but Serena as an example of that oppression? Puhleeze…

My real objection to this article is that it belittles Serena's own plentiful achievements. The tone of the article, an underdog overcoming the brutal oppression takes focus away from the fact that Serena did raise the level of women's tennis by a notch, that she has converted what was rapidly becoming error ridden, low percentage grunt fest into a spectator spectacle with her power, her precision and her athleticism.

Serena does not need the "female black athlete" tag to highlight her greatness, her 21 (yes 21, not 26, can't stress that enough) Grand Slam titles, and her records, too numerous to mention, does that for her quiet well. But I guess that is the difference between pure tennis fans like me and Mr. Saxena. I see Serena drilling down a forehand down the line, flat as can be and go "wow that will take her opponent's shoulder off", Saxena sees the same shot and says "ah there goes a beautiful black woman destroying male dominated, white supremacist society's old dogmas".

The real victim of this hit job by Times, however, is Novak Djokovic who had a 2015 in many ways harder and ultimately better than Serena. Numbers don't lie and sports is about numbers (that is why Rolex sponsors the score board). Novak went 81-6 in win loss against Serena's 53-3. Her win loss percentage was better by him by about 2.5% after playing 60% fewer matches. Novak defeated 9 out of the top 10 players on his way to his 3 slam titles, Serena only 3.

Novak dropped 12 sets while winning 81 at the Slams, Serena dropped the same number of sets while winning 52. Novak's finalists at majors were Andy Murray and Roger Federer (twice), Serena got a recovering Sharapova and two first time finalists. Novak lost his only Grand slam match in final against a genuine top ten player (wawrinka), Williams lost the semi- final to a journeyman player of her own age.

But Saxena's rant against men disguised as praise for Serena gets half a page and Novak's year is reduced to four lines and a thumb size image.

It might be politically correct for you Times, but it surely isn't about tennis. And till the time your own staff doesn't make sports about sports, you don't get to talk about politicians in sports administration.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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