Can we let Serena live?
The last thing world-renowned tennis champion Serena Williams needs after a grueling return to the tennis court for the French Open is to be forced to patiently explain to reporters that their irrelevant and sexist questions are irrelevant and sexist. And yet …
Over the weekend, Williams fielded such a question from Inside Tennis reporter Bill Simons. The oddly specific query was based upon an observation made by President Donald Trump 14 years ago when he was just Reality Star Donald Trump (for the record, he has never to our knowledge been Tennis Expert Donald Trump.)
“I have been waiting about 14 years to ask you this question,” said Simons. “After the 2004 Wimbledon match with Maria [Sharapova], I had the opportunity to interview Donald Trump on his L.A. golf course, and he said that Maria’s shoulders were incredibly alluring and then he came up with his incredible analysis: that you were intimidated by her supermodel good looks. My question is: Have you ever been intimidated by anyone on a tennis court, and what are you thoughts about that occurrence?”
Williams patiently replied, “I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that. I can’t say I have been intimated by anyone. That’s all. That’s it.”
Simons later apologized for his question on Twitter, noting that he never intended to "empower Trump or attack Serena" and that he "SO admire[s] her."
On Monday, Williams withdrew from the very tournament of which the interview was supposed to focus on following a pectoral injury that hindered her serve. The French Open was the 36-year-old’s first major tournament following her pregnancy with daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian last September. In candid interviews, Williams noted that she suffered from complications surrounding the pregnancy as well as post-partum depression, so her return to the court was no easy feat.
Of her withdrawal, Williams told reporters the decision was “extremely disappointing.”
“I gave up so much, from time with my daughter to time with my family,” she said of making her return. “I put everything on the court … So it’s really difficult to be in this situation.”
In the same press conference, Williams addressed more questions about Sharapova and their rumored feud. Their match was the most highly-anticipated of the tournament, even though Williams has bested Sharapova 19 out of the 21 times they have faced each other, according to ESPN.
“I don’t have any negative feelings toward her,” she said. “I feel like negativity is taught and ... women should bring each other up. A lot of people always assume that I feel a different way and that’s not true. If anything, I feel like we should encourage each other and the success of one female should be the inspiration to another.”
Number one at both tennis and handling the press? Let's give this lady more awards.