Serena Williams’ return to Indian Wells had been cut short by what she said was a knee problem, forcing her to forfeit her semifinal match against Romania’s rising Simona Halep.
Still, it was already a bonus for her to reach the quarterfinals of the WTA stop in the California desert, having boycotted it for 14 years over what she has claimed as racist abuse.
She, however, has failed to be more specific about being victimized just because, she continues to speculate, she is black.
Racism comes with the territory and Serena is not the first woman or man of color to suffer humiliation for being non-white.
And so—she has been in the tennis business for more than a decade and is touted as the greatest among the women in the tour—she should not be onion-skinned about being jeered or taunted on court.
Her shortcoming is that she has not stood up to those presumably WASPs or Jim Crow rooters defining her as a person, as an athlete, based on her blackness.
This racist lot from the Australian Open to Roland Garros and all other top-tier tournaments on the tennis calendar cannot do her harm anymore.
Even early in her career, when she was still a teen-ager, she already was a big winner, with millions in prize money to boot.
And so, again, how about putting those allegedly slurring her in their proper places by not playing the race card, after all she is very articulate and quite opinionated?
Her apparent penchant for playing it reminds one of the striker—black or white, Asian or European, Latino or African—in football complaining about being intentionally fouled, dangerously tackled or otherwise run to the ground, when he is fair game from the start because he, more than any other player, is the one expected to score, come on.
Serena is in the firing line of the lowlifes because she towers over them—in skill, fame, wealth, even fashion sense.
But she has to confront these alleged bigots who are also said to mock her elder sister Venus, herself a holder of many a Grand Slam title.
They have to clear the air first, though, on what led to Serena’s no-shows at Indian Wells that began in 2002.
The sisters were to meet in the 2001 semifinals but Venus withdrew, citing injury.
The talk was that the older Williams was said to have been told by their father Richard that Serena should be crowned champion (she eventually was, beating Belgium’s Kim Clijsters in the finals).
Over the years, there was no flat denial from dad and siblings about the “game-fixing,” with Serena just saying how professionally she has conducted herself on- and off-court.
That apparent disrespect to tennis fans resulted in the alleged racial abuse.
Had Serena been more forthright and candid about the issue, she would not have opted for the long boycott.
In her aborted Round of 4 match against Halep (also eventually the champion, behind a comeback victory over Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic) she also did not elaborate on her injury.
Of course, the fans who had warmly welcomed her back were disappointed with the prodigal daughter letting them down again.