The conventions of sportswriting mean that there’s really only one accepted method of approaching sport and its stars (if you’re talking about serious writing, as opposed to tabloid Turnipising) and that is to get down on your knees in a reprehensible posture of supplication and to dish up large helpings of reverence. Certain individuals help gravitate against this dominant discourse by providing a plentiful supply of contradictory and un-reverential material in the shape of themselves. Maradona, for instance.
Serena Williams is not one of these. She is phenomenal** at playing tennis, and has achieved the lot* in her sport, but she has nurtured and manufactured a persona that is hard to believe in. The ‘I thank my God,’ post-match gabble is dull enough, but when the manifestation of the other much more credible Serena Williams finally broke out, the one who tells the line judge that she wants to ‘take this fucking ball and ram it down your fucking throat’ it was reigned in just as soon as it began. That’s a shame. With a bit more sinning we could end up with a proper redemption. Still, Bless that Lord she isn’t playing Venus in the final.
Her opponent this afternoon, Vera Zvonarava is one of those individuals who is known for a syndrome that is widespread on the non-Williams-sisters side of the womens’ game, the on-court mental meltdown. For that admirable characteristic of credible humanity I will be cheering her on. Equally, the extraordinary narrative of The Life and Times of Diego Maradona will see me backing the Argie Bargies, though I won’t mind if Germany win because I don’t believe that anyone with hair like Joachim Low can be an uninteresting man.
* Including inventing something called the Serena Slam where she beat her sister in four consecutive grand slam titles. O really? Zzzzzzzz.
** © Tracy Austin