Madrid Open director ridiculed Serena Williams again
As if the greatest ever needed more fuel.
Earlier this week, Ion Tiriac, an 81-year-old former tennis player and current billionaire Madrid Open manager, appeared on television in his home country of Romania and took a variety of shots. ignorant fire against Serena Williams. Notably: “At this age and the weight she is now, she doesn’t move as easily as she did 15 years ago… Serena was an amazing player. If she had a little decency she would retire.
It’s true that Williams has been going there for years; she turned 39 last September. But she is ranked 11th in the world. She won a title last year at the ASB Auckland Open. It was the first time she gave birth in 2018, a life-threatening job that resulted in multiple surgeries. The fact that Williams fought to the top should be an inspiration to everyone involved in the sport. Instead, for some, its setbacks and (perceived) imperfections are material to be ridiculed.
Unsurprisingly, when Williams first returned from her pregnancy in 2018, Tiriac had something to say as well. “With all due respect, Serena Williams is 36 and 90 kilos, I would like to see something else …”
Williams’ online army, including her husband Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit, came to their aid this week, calling Tiriac a “sexist clown” and “disgusting person.” Fans underline that Williams was seeded 8th at the Australian Open, 6th at the French Open and 3rd at the US Open this year. Does Tiriac want hundreds of female tennis players to retire immediately?
The simple truth is that few athletes, period, have ever had to negotiate a cocktail of success and schadenfreude like Serena Williams. When a talent unique in a generation like Tom Brady brings a stellar game into his forties, he’s celebrated. But the same could be said of a talent unique in a generation like Derek Jeter, who brought poor play in your forties. It’s an age-old tradition to look the other way as the bodies of our heroes finally begin to decompose. They won so much.
Williams is the best player in the history of the sport. She deserves praise, and she deserves to delay her retirement tour for 10 years, when she’s ranked in the 300, if that’s really what she wants. What she doesn’t deserve, however, are the misogynistic evaluations of little men sitting on the sidelines. Show respect, Mr. Tiriac. For those who count at home, Williams has 23 Grand Slam singles titles. In his career, Tiriac had none.
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