By Jake Beleski
It looks like Serena Williams won’t be back at the ASB Classic anytime soon, and good riddance.
It was only in the last week or so that Williams announced her belief that if she were a man she would have long ago been considered one of the greatest players of all time.
There is no doubting her record as a player, but the greats are remembered for so much more than their performances on the court.
Williams has built a reputation of being a terrible loser and excuse-giving whinger, and those traits were only enhanced after her strange performance in Auckland this week.
The 22-time major winner went down to fellow American Madison Brengle (if you hadn’t heard of her before this week, you’re not alone), and then decided to blame all the factors outside her control for the loss.
The wind bore the brunt of her criticisms, after her refusal to adopt a more conservative approach eventually led to her downfall.
She committed 88 unforced errors, and proceeded to describe the conditions as her “least favourite she has ever played in”.
“I can take solace in the fact that the conditions won’t be like this in Melbourne [for the Australian Open],” Williams said.
“This is not a great opportunity to assess your game to be honest.”
I understand the frustration, but has she forgotten tennis is (for the majority) an outdoor sport?
The elements are part of what makes tennis so intriguing.
Players are expected to contend with sun, shadow and wind and adapt their game accordingly.
This obviously doesn’t sit well with Williams, and there are many factors that could be responsible for her struggles on a smaller court.
Williams is accustomed to playing in the biggest stadiums in the world, many of which are sheltered and can close their roof with the flick of a switch and at the first sign of bad weather.
That wasn’t the case in Auckland, but you would expect a self-proclaimed “greatest player” to be able to cope with some strong gusts.
It was an embarrassment for the sport, and tournament director Karl Budge rightly fears the effect her comments may have on other players and their willingness to come to New Zealand.
But her comments have to be put into perspective.
This is the same person that threatened to shove a ball down a line judge’s throat at the 2009 US Open after a controversial foot fault call.
So Williams can say whatever she wants, but the reason she is not regarded as one of the all-round greats runs far deeper than the fact she is a woman.