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Serena Williams is Human
Stars are imperfect; they make mistakes. Basketball player Tony Parker gets into club fights, Football player Aaron Hernandez gets arrested. Superstars on the other hand, never do anything wrong, and are held as perfect people in the eyes of society. They are the perfection every fan strives toward, and every critic hates. Tom Brady and Tim Duncan never make mistakes.
Tennis players generally don’t attract much attention from the media, unless that tennis player is Serena Williams doing the Crip Walk or speaking about a rape victim. The only time the focus is not Williams is if the player is Maria Sharapova, who is feuding with Serena Williams. The general attention focuses on Williams. She will go down as one of the best, if not the best, women’s tennis player. Sometimes, the focus is off the court, and Williams’ accomplishments are overlooked by her behavior.
Ever since we were kids, we’ve been taught to be ourselves and to speak our minds. How can this be remotely possible when we’re famous? Normal people suddenly have to follow rules that famous people don’t have to follow. A superstar can never speak her mind, be herself in public, or do anything to diminish her standings in fans’ eyes.
True fans should support the athlete or public figure no matter what. Casual fans owe nothing to the famous person, but true fans have to bask in the glory of all of it.
And so the case of Serena Williams begins.
She is supposedly the most popular tennis player in the world. She has adoring fans everywhere, and these “fans” were clearly never taught to let people be themselves. If Williams wants to speak her mind, let her. If she wants to do a controversial victory dance, let her. She’s Serena Williams. If Aaron Hernandez did the Crip Walk after a Super Bowl game, his “homies in the hood” would celebrate. Williams gets caught up in the moment and is now looked down upon by some. How do you look down on someone who’s at the top?
Williams’ most recent “error” in the mind of critics would be her loss at Wimbledon. Like Venus Williams lost not so long ago, Serena’s early exit can only mean one thing--she’s aging. This may be true, but so is everyone else. Getting old can slow down a player, but it’s no excuse for poor play. If anything, haters should look at the way she handled the stress and commend her. Serena is human. She makes mistakes. The only difference between her mistakes and ours is that hers are public and available for anyone to judge them.
It’s hard to play seemingly-perfect ball while watching your attitude and monitoring your every word. Sometimes, people falter. Williams faltered. She had an off day and lost a good fight. I can’t sit behind a desk and act like I’m Serena’s biggest supporter, because I’m not. I, too, am a hypocrite because I condemned her for her actions. I judged Williams based on her behavior and actions regarding touchy subjects. I figured that her reign was over because she lost a Wimbledon match and history didn’t repeat itself. Her loss, along with shocking comments she made in regard to a rape victim made me believe that I had truly witnessed the fall of the Williams Empire.
Where I’m wrong, and where most of the world is wrong, is in my attitude. It’s natural not to like an athlete’s personality. They’re not famous for charisma; they’re famous for talent. But what happens when talent is overshadowed by show? We tend to focus on how the character reacts to an off-the-court situation, rather than their impressive ways on it. We forget that it’s not entertainment, it’s hard work and determination
I dislike LeBron James because he’s cocky. I don’t doubt that he’s a good, even a great, player, but no one can force me to like him. Serena Williams could be exactly that for some people. Her latest exit is just an excuse to justify reasons of dislike. It’s alright not to like her because she does questionable things with her feet (and I’m not talking about playing tennis). It’s okay to wonder what she was thinking when she practically blamed a girl for her own misfortune, but it’s not fair to carry that judgement into the sport.
If people are held accountable for their speech and actions, they can’t exercise the first amendment to its full capacity. Williams isn’t breaking the law by saying a statement people disagree with. She isn’t openly starting fights or doing anything illegal by warring with Sharapova through paparazzi reports and rep statements. It’s one thing to judge a criminal, a convict, or a bad person, but it’s another thing altogether to judge someone because they act in an unorthodox way.
I admire Williams. I accept her for everything that she is. She is a great tennis player and I want to see her go down in the record books as the best women’s player ever. Her legacy shouldn’t be tarnished because of something that happened off the court. She has a clean slate, she’s never been to jail or done anything wrong. She’s only been herself. If there’s a problem with being herself, then the whole principle must be brought into question. Who can be themselves and who can’t? When is it okay to say what you want, and when should you keep your opinions to yourself?
Williams will be tested. Critics will be watching her very carefully after her recent “failure,” They will jump on every mistake, savor every false step. Winning won’t fix everything, as she’s already won almost everything. But as she has shown time and time again, Williams doesn’t care. If she wants to Crip Walk after her next Cup, I’ll do it too. If she wants to talk trash about someone’s life, I’ll support her. I would do it, not because I’m her number one fan, but because I’m one true fan out of a so-called million.