I took against Serena Williams when she was still a child, the first time I ever saw her on television. It must have been 1994, she hadn’t turned pro yet but her big sister Venus was making a splash somewhere and their “unique upbringing” was always a big part of the story. So one day they stuck little sister Serena in front of the cameras to show off the success of the family’s educational methods by having her recite the “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech from Macbeth. She mangled it. She must have been about eleven or twelve, she could have done better—but no one mentioned this fact and no one corrected her. Macbeth is my favorite play and I felt offended on its behalf, she mangled it that badly, giggling all the while. Why no re-take? There was no re-take. Because she was being cute, because she had a wide toothy smile and a head full of beads and wasn’t shy about performing on camera, because she was maybe a future major tennis star if the father’s predictions were to be believed, the network ran what she gave them, as if it were just fine to get mostly all the words wrong in a filmed recitation of Shakespeare. When—in my opinion—it wasn’t. Isn't. When—as I continue to believe—she’d never memorized that speech at all, she just wanted to make a boast of it. I’ve always tended to like lively truth-challenged children but this one I didn’t. Just like that, like with a finger snap, I parted ways with Serena Williams. She might have been a charming American girl who claimed to have parts of Shakespeare by memory and really truly did; she’d have won me over in that case, I would have been her fan, probably forever. I’d have admired her had she cried out, “No, no, let me try again, I can do better, I really know this!” Instead she came off as a big mealy-mouthed child liar.
|The U.S. Open Women's Singles Trophy (r)|
Eighteen years later, she’s got no eyebrows except those she inks on, and sideburns—otherwise she hasn’t changed at all.
Fact 1: What I think about Serena Williams doesn’t matter. Fact 2: Serena Williams has always been just as sloppy and greedy and narcissistic and disrespectful of Shakespeare as she’s been allowed to be—just as dishonest, too. To blame her for being successfully rotten misses the point. The plain truth is that if she didn’t play such an error-strewn game I’d have grown fond of her by now, but she just slaps so many wide, so many long, as if it didn’t matter—and then it doesn’t matter, she still wins because she hits so hard.