What could be the matter with Serena Williams at this year’s Wimbledon? The tennis superstar has not portrayed the picture of happiness or satisfaction, with much of her body language and demeanour being likened to a series for first round defeats which is certainly never going to be the case with her.
Like most players when they lose, Serena is unresponsive. That is only expected when you are playing tennis at the level she plays. There is always so much as risk, there is so much pressure and so much attention focused on everything, so for a player to be curt and short with people after any loss is understandable.
But this is different. What she has been exuding at Wimbledon is strange.
At the pre-event media conference media walked out of the room wondering why she came across as almost angry when she had not even hit a ball in anger. Her answers gave nothing away. Some suggested her game face was already on but then you could see no emotion on her face.
After her first match things did not really improve but it was after her second match that frustration was setting in among the media.
The post-match media conferences, it should be explained, are mandatory if a player is requested to attend and all the big names are requested so they have to be there. A time is allocated for the media conference and each media conference is slotted about ten minutes.
Many players are in a conference for a protracted amount of time because not only do they do an English part but then also speak in their own language. Sure they’d rather be somewhere else but they also know this is part of their job and commitment and has to be done. For example, Roger Federer does English, French and Swiss German because that is what he speaks every day.
The fans want to know what the players are saying and thinking and how they have reacted in matches and this is one of the few opportunities the media get to be able to convey different sides to a player in any sort of detail. There is always the thought of revealing and highlighting something different.
Absolutely it is incredibly difficult to be on show all the time like Serena is and she has to play that part, but she is in the public domain and what she is being asked to do is not an infringement on her private life.
Serena unfortunately has not been willing to share much and during her post-match media conference following the second round which she won 6-1, 6-1 she made it clear she did not want to be there. Now, I’m sorry but we all have jobs to do and her responses sadly showed a lack of respect for the job the media were trying to do.
Are all the questions sensible and pertinent? Absolutely not, there are plenty of stupid, inane questions. Asking a player if they were a tree what type of tree would they be is one example of how off the track things can go and yes a player has the right to roll their eyes. However, there is a level of etiquette and respect that still needs to be followed.
She is without doubt a remarkable athlete and a beyond phenomenal tennis player but her reactions and responses have done nothing to help her image.
Here is an excerpt from the Serena Williams media conference after that second round match.
Q. What have been your observations of how Caroline Wozniacki (note the two of them are close friends) has dealt with her personal life being so public, and what advice maybe have you given her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, my advice is always just for Caroline and not for public, so I don't really talk about my advice.
Q. What are your observations of how she's handled it, including this week being very lighthearted in addressing questions about her personal life?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm just glad I'm not in that position where I have to address questions about my personal life. I've been known to deny a lot of things, so... I'm really losing focus up here. I'm trying to figure out when this is going to end. What's the next question?
Q. Novak was in here yesterday saying he felt there weren't many personalities left in tennis. Do you feel that's the same in the women's game? Do you have to express your personality? Is that important?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just think the longer these interviews go, I mean, maybe that's why at Wimbledon they have them long, because you get to see more of a person's personality, like the realness start creeping in. I don't know. Yeah, this is getting …. I can't answer that question. See, the questions change from tennis to Novak and then Rafa. It's no longer about the match. Is this the last question?