FanDuel - WFBC

July 17, 2008

Serena won't play Indian Wells; WTA's new rule won't change it: Serena and Venus Williams' ongoing boycott of the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, Calif., could jeopardize their participation at other tournaments under recently adopted rules for mandatory events set to kick in next year. (edit) The Williams sisters have steadfastly declined to participate at the Pacific Life Open since 2001. That year, Venus defaulted to Serena minutes before their semifinal started. Spectators subsequently jeered Serena in the final. The sisters and their father, Richard, have said they believe the crowd's actions were racially motivated.

posted by knowsalittle to tennis at 10:36 AM - 86 comments

"I'm not going to Indian Wells," said the fifth-ranked American, who lost the Wimbledon final to older sister Venus. "That's just the bottom line." "Some things you have to stand up for," Serena said. "There's been a lot of people in the past that are my race that have stood up for a lot more than not playing Indian Wells. That's the least I can do." Frequently we hear that sports has become all about the money. Here is one case were money has nothing to do with it. I suggest you read the entire story at the link before offering up comments. It is typical of USA Today on being short of in depth information, but it helps explain Serena's stance.

posted by knowsalittle at 10:44 AM on July 17

I agree that Venus & Serena are showing that this is not about money which to me is a breath of fresh air. To hear that two stellar athletes are taking a stand about something that they truly believe in is something that hasn't been felt in the sports world for many years and should be discussed on a serious and intellectual level.

posted by BornIcon at 10:53 AM on July 17

That link doesn't even do justice to how the Indian Wells "fans" behaved. They booed Serena relentlessly during her finals match. They booed when she missed a first serve, they booed during a double fault, and they booed during her victory celebration. She should never go back. Any WTA rule that would punish her for that choice is stupid.

posted by bperk at 11:21 AM on July 17

That link doesn't even do justice to how the Indian Wells "fans" behaved. They booed Serena relentlessly during her finals match. They booed when she missed a first serve, they booed during a double fault, and they booed during her victory celebration. Yes, I recall the "fans" and the discussion that year as well. I wouldn't play their either and I enthusiastically support the Williams in their boycott. She should never go back. Any WTA rule that would punish her for that choice is stupid. I am interested to know what the new or current policy is for withdrawing from (or skipping altogether) a WTA event due to an 'injury'. I am not suggesting that Venus, Serena, or any player for that matter could, should , or would use the 'injury' excuse to justify not participating in an event. I am merely asking what are the parameters for determining the extent of tennis injuries and their severity with relation to exclusion from penalty or disciplinary action? Almost every ranked professional player has some sort of long-term nagging injury, and I would like to know how the WTA determines if the injury warrants exclusion from participation. Do they require an MRI and pyhsical evaluation from a physician on the WTA payroll to exclude someone from punishment who is suffering from severe or aggravated chronic back, knee, elbow, shoulder, wrist or elbow pain? If not, how exactly is this policed/enforced?

posted by knowsalittle at 12:04 PM on July 17

Venus defaulted to Serena minutes before their semifinal started. Could it have simply been that the fans were upset about the default? Doesn't the default mean that Serena gets to the final without playing a match, and is therefore more rested? Maybe the fans were more motivated by what they saw as collusion on the part of the sisters rather than race. Or maybe they felt cheated that the match didn't take place when they paid big bucks to see it. It seems to me that Venus gave Serena an unfair advantage, they got properly boo'd for it, then threw out the race card to deflect further criticism.

posted by irunfromclones at 12:38 PM on July 17

Could it have simply been that the fans were upset about the default? So? If the fans booed because the match was cancelled, then the Williamses probably wouldn't have said anything about the fans. The relentless booing that followed Serena into the Finals was way out-of-bounds. You can find any excuse you want for it, but the Williamses play in an overwhelmingly white sport and you don't see them calling folks racist very often. If you prefer to see them as overly sensitive despite the evidence to the contrary, I think that says more about you than it does them.

posted by bperk at 12:52 PM on July 17

According to this, Venus withdrew due to injury.

posted by apoch at 01:23 PM on July 17

Maybe the fans were more motivated by what they saw as collusion on the part of the sisters rather than race. Or maybe they felt cheated that the match didn't take place when they paid big bucks to see it. I can undertand the fans booing when the semi-final match was cancelled only minutes before play because the price of tickets to any professional tennis match has been out of control for years. But as reported and decribed by bperk, the booing of Serena, who did nothing wrong, continued throughout the entire finals match, extending into the awards ceremony. Serena was not the one who bowed out, and any knowledegable tennis fan (most notably ones who would pay for ticket to a major event in the US) is aware that while their relationship is comfortable and civil, there is no way either of the Williams sisters is going to concede an opportunity to win a major WTA event without just cause to the other. Just because Venus did not play guaranteed Serena nothing. Sure, an extra day off is always welcome in a major event, but she still had to win against a top ranked opponent to secure the title. Again I raise the injury question. What is a legitimate injury according to the WTA?

posted by knowsalittle at 02:22 PM on July 17

In ancient times,from the minoeans to the romans games,athletes were booed,for a bad performance,and never mind bad playing,we are talking about dying well!! But this is not ancient rome and the participants are not gladiators,no they are paid athletes,and we are paying spectators who has a ticket given right to cheer and boo as we please without a reason that need explaining, Ever been to a baseball game? talk about playing under pressure,65000 people screaming insults when you are at bat ,or on the mound,. Speaking of baseball,makes me think of a not so distant past,where a certain gentleman,who, no matter how emotionally or physically injured he was,would take the field,being insulted ,spat on,even assaulted,his name was j.robinson ,What a MAN!! Had Mr Robinson left the field or boycott a game every time he felt racism,we would have waited a bit longer for an integrated baseball league,Yes what a man indeed!! Anyways if we have to use sports to send messages to the world ,because we believe we have the right reasons to do so ,well lt's cancel china's summer olympics .As for today's athletes and tennis players just hit the ball get paid be happy,Our next prez might be african american,for all we know,so....

posted by phoenix57 at 02:44 PM on July 17

but the Williamses play in an overwhelmingly white sport and you don't see them calling folks racist very often. Their father, Richard Williams, more than makes up for it. Here's one gem: Taunts by the crowd went beyond suspicions of match-fixing, Richard Williams said. "It's the worst act of prejudice I've seen since they killed Martin Luther King," Williams said. And another: He said the media treated his daughters unfairly, that it was "the worst media job that they have done on any human being in the world," and that if he were Serena and Venus, he would have quit playing. "But if you get some little white no-good trasher in America like Tracy Austin or Chris Evert, who cannot hit the ball, they [the media] will claim this is great," he said. That being said, I don't believe in blaming the daughters for the sins of the father. Nor do I have an issue with their boycott of Indian Wells. But Richard Williams does his daughters a real disservice by his inflammatory, ignorant comments which usually play the race card.

posted by cjets at 03:30 PM on July 17

But this is not ancient rome and the participants are not gladiators,no they are paid athletes,and we are paying spectators who has a ticket given right to cheer and boo as we please without a reason that need explaining Just as the Williams sisters have a given right to stay as far away from Indian Wells as they want. It doesn't matter if the fans' behavior was racially motivated or not; the sisters feel that it was and that alone is enough to justify their avoiding that tournament. I agree that it would be ridiculous for the WTA to punish them for their decision.

posted by captaincavegirl at 03:33 PM on July 17

But Richard Williams does his daughters a real disservice by his inflammatory, ignorant comments which usually play the race card. I hate when people dismiss someone's legitimate criticism by using the phrase "race card." How do you know that their treatment wasn't racially motivated? You don't know what taunts they heard in that very hostile crowd. By all accounts, it was abominable. But instead of addressing the crowds behavior, you do a google search to figure out a way to blame anyone but the white crowd. Obviously, Richard Williams is worthy of criticism because how dare he suggest that the crowd taunting his family and booing his 19-year old daughter could have anything but the purest of motives for their behavior.

posted by bperk at 03:48 PM on July 17

From a BBC article following Indian Wells 2001: "When Venus and I were walking down the stairs to our seats, people kept calling me nigger," said Williams. "One guy said 'I wish it was 1975, we'd skin you alive'. ..." The tournament director's limp response: "Richard says someone yelled something, maybe they did, but I know that's not Indian Wells people". So what's the cop-out here? The so-called playing of the race card -- which seems no more than simply calling racist taunts what they are -- or that feeble disclaimer?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:00 PM on July 17

How do you know that their treatment wasn't racially motivated? I don't know. It may be or may not have been. I didn't address that. What I was addressing was Richard William's bad behavior. I said very clearly that I had no issue with their boycott. And if the indian wells crowd did make the coments alleged, it is disgusting, racist behavior. But instead of addressing the crowds behavior, you do a google search to figure out a way to blame anyone but the white crowd. Obviously, Richard Williams is worthy of criticism because how dare he suggest that the crowd taunting his family and booing his 19-year old daughter could have anything but the purest of motives for their behavior. Really?!? Is that what you think I said? Why don't you read my post again? Where did I EVER condone what the crowd said? Ever? If you're gonna try and call me out, at least try and stick to what I said and not create some implied agenda that doesn't exist. You claimed that the Williamses didn't call folks racist very often. I think Richard Williams falls out of bed every morning calling people racist. If you want to say that we shouldn't judge Venus and Serena by the conduct of their father, that's a discussion worth having. But please give me a fucking break with this talk of how I am somehow condoning racist behavior by anyone. And the crowd's bad behavior does not justify Richard Williams calling Tracy Austin or Chris Evert "little white no-good trasher." Were they at Indian Wells as making racist comments also?

posted by cjets at 04:16 PM on July 17

If you prefer to see them as overly sensitive despite the evidence to the contrary, I think that says more about you than it does them. Being a minority myself I think that I am pretty sensitive to racial behavior. I was just wondering if it was mere coincidence that the booing began at the point where the default occurred. I don't think it says any more about me than that I don't always take things at face value or automatically accept everyone else's version of events. I like to look at the evidence and think for myself. I don't believe that it is so far out of the realm of possibility that the fans might have been angry at what they perceived was an unfair advantage given from sibling to sibling, ot that they may have felt cheated out of a match after paying a pretty high price to see it. I also have a hard time believing that the majority of that crowd just happened to be so blatantly racist. I do think that after having made their point the booing went on far longer than necessary. Of course, I would strenuously object to and condemn any racist comment made by any member of that crowd

posted by irunfromclones at 04:31 PM on July 17

If that really happened to them, they should continue to boycott the tournament and the WTA should give them an exception to the new rule. There would be some karmic justice here: a commentary from last year suggests that Indian Wells has plummeted in popularity since the incident and doesn't have the draw it used to. But in the back of my mind, I wonder if Richard Williams really heard what he claims. He was being accused of fixing a match between the sisters and saw his daughter getting raucously booed in the final. That would make anybody angry. And if you read an interview he gave to Inside Tennis in 2004 -- three years later -- you'll see that Richard is a hot-headed crackpot who often makes inflammatory racial statements without basis.

Richard Williams: "Ray Moore could have stopped the booing if he wanted to. ... Ray Moore is from South Africa. The Caucasian people killed the African people. They abused them, they buried them in graves and robbed them of their futures and human rights. They legislated against black people. He's from South Africa, and the way the Africaaners treated the black people over there Inside Tennis: But in Ray's defense RW: I don't have no defense for him IT: I do though, I know Ray Moore RW: I don't want to talk to you no more. IT: But let me just ... RW: I don't want to hear a defense of him. IT: Okay, but he was really anti-apartheid. ... RW: ... I've talked to Ray Moore and Charles Pasarell. They're really nice people. ... RW: ... the USTA was made for white people, not black people. Black men should do their own tennis ventures. The USTA should take all blacks off their teams and tournaments. Black men should have separate lessons, separate quarters. ... RW: ... the Japanese, the Chinese, the English do their thing, why do the black people have to try to go do things with the white people? They should do their own thing.
I don't think he can be trusted to report accurately what was said to him at that tournament, either then or now.

posted by rcade at 04:47 PM on July 17

Richard Willlians has been trying to use the race card ever since his daughters started getting in tournaments. YOur in a professional sport where you have rules, abide by the rules. If your white or black it does not excuse you from the rules I have never heard a player female player yell out the F word like I heard Serena in the Australian Open 2 years ago when she almost lost in the quarter finals. She was not even reprimanded. Tennis is suppose to be a game for ladies and gentlemen. Maybe the williams sisters need to start behaving like one, and when things don't go their way stop crying foul.

posted by retroin at 04:56 PM on July 17

"That year, Venus defaulted to Serena minutes before their semifinal started. Spectators subsequently jeered Serena in the final. The sisters and their father, Richard, have said they believe the crowd's actions were racially motivated." Yes, I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with people being pissed they weren't going to get to see what they'd paid good money for. Money that, unlike for his daughters, doesn't effectively grow on trees. What a bunch of pathetic whinging assholes...

posted by Drood at 05:00 PM on July 17

Yes, I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with people being pissed they weren't going to get to see what they'd paid good money for. It was two days later, and Serena Williams didn't do anything wrong. She didn't withdraw. Booing for her because they were pissed because her sister withdrew because of a legitimate injury is an asshole move. Period. I'm surprised and kinda pissed that people have a hard time believing that a very hostile crowd would use racial epithets. I'd be surprised if they didn't. It's pretty shitty that this thread has become a discussion on Richard Williams instead of on what the Williams's sisters have faced.

posted by bperk at 05:14 PM on July 17

Richard Willlians has been trying to use the race card ever since his daughters started getting in tournaments. YOur in a professional sport where you have rules, abide by the rules. What rule, exactly, was broken?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:25 PM on July 17

If the Williams sisters want to boycott an event, so be it. Don't play. But what top athlete hasn't endured crude and vulgar criticism? How about the recent "Josh Hamilton smokes crack" chant. He handled it well through the media, then hammered 28 Home Runs in the derby. In no way would I ever condone the use of racial slurs or degrading taunts and I think it was a low class move for those fans if they said what has been reported. But sometimes, I'm sure, being a top athlete is tough, and you just have to turn a deaf ear to the ignorant fan, play your game, and walk away.

posted by BoKnows at 05:25 PM on July 17

Bottom line. Rules are rules. If they don't play, then they should get the same punishment as anyone else who does not play. If that means a fine, then they should pay it. If that means suspension for two tournaments, then they should serve it. I can understand why they are pissed, but it was seven years ago. And I assume that, if they are standing up for their beliefs, then they probably are willing to endure whatever punishment comes with standing up.

posted by graymatters at 05:29 PM on July 17

I'm surprised and kinda pissed that people have a hard time believing that a very hostile crowd would use racial epithets. I'd be surprised if they didn't. What's that supposed to mean? I've been attending sporting events -- in the South, no less -- my entire life. I don't recall hearing racial epithets from angry fans.

posted by rcade at 05:39 PM on July 17

Perhaps the Williams sisters could make the point that, based on what they heard, they are not safe playing at Indian Wells. If they raise a legitimate claim based on safety, they have every right to skip the tourney without suffering the consequences the WTA has (recently) enacted. I can't see a court holding up a rule that forces someone to work in a hostile environment, and I can't believe the WTA would fight this tooth and nail in court when they have the opportunity for a graceful out. Encourage the sisters to take that approach, let them skip it and stand up for their principles, and let everyone move on. Only the paying customers at IW lose out by costing themselves the opportunity to watch two of the premiere players in the sport.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:41 PM on July 17

It's pretty shitty that this thread has become a discussion on Richard Williams instead of on what the Williams's sisters have faced. I think it's integral to the discussion of whether or not booing is considered racist soley on the fans being white and the athlete black, given the prior conduct, history, and attitude of someone closely related to the athlete. Perhaps Serena didn't do anything wrong, but two days later or not, she still represented what fans evidently saw as being there through an unfair advantage or even a deliberate act. In short, cheating. Try taking the color out of the mix for a moment and look at the circumstances then. If the Williams sisters and their father honestly feel that it was racially motivated and they no longer want to play that venue then they shouldn't be penalized for it.

posted by irunfromclones at 06:00 PM on July 17

BoKnows: If the Williams sisters want to boycott an event, so be it. Don't play. But what top athlete hasn't endured crude and vulgar criticism? How about the recent "Josh Hamilton smokes crack" chant. He handled it well through the media, then hammered 28 Home Runs in the derby. Do you think there's no difference between the conduct expected of baseball fans and the conduct expected of tennis fans? Do you think there's no difference between being taunted for something wrong that you did (and that you are trying to live down) and being taunted because of your race? tahoemoj: Perhaps the Williams sisters could make the point that, based on what they heard, they are not safe playing at Indian Wells. If they raise a legitimate claim based on safety, they have every right to skip the tourney without suffering the consequences the WTA has (recently) enacted. IIRC they did make the point in the past that it wasn't a safe venue. I guess the WTA doesn't give a damn about that. clones: I think it's integral to the discussion of whether or not booing is considered racist soley on the fans being white and the athlete black, given the prior conduct, history, and attitude of someone closely related to the athlete. I'm having a little trouble parsing this. The thread is about the Williams' sisters' decision to continue their boycott of Indian Wells, despite the new WTA rules. Their decision is based on what happened. What do Richard Williams' "prior conduct, history and attitude" have to do with that? Perhaps Serena didn't do anything wrong, but two days later or not, she still represented what fans evidently saw as being there through an unfair advantage or even a deliberate act. In short, cheating. Try taking the color out of the mix for a moment and look at the circumstances then. Cheating??? Cheating, how??? Resigning a match isn't cheating; Lindsay Davenport did it at Wimbledon this year, people do it all the time. If the Williams sisters and their father honestly feel that it was racially motivated Now you're playing word games, and it's just absolutely absurd. No one, including Richard Williams, believes that fans came to Indian Wells for two days because they wanted a chance to hurl racial taunts at a black athlete. It wasn't "racially motivated" in the sense of some plan to show up and taunt Serena and Richard Williams with racist remarks. But when these white people became angry over something else, which they may or may not (see the reference to injury) have had any right to be angry about, how did they express it? And for how long? If you really believe that racism doesn't have anything to do with the fact that when they got angry, the word "nigger" and a reference to lynching came out, I think you're painfully naive.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:12 PM on July 17

lbb, Do you think there's no difference between the conduct expected of baseball fans and the conduct expected of tennis fans? Actually, I would expect better from tennis fans. But all in all, I hope that all sports fans would refrain from this type of language/taunting. Do you think there's no difference between being taunted for something wrong that you did (and that you are trying to live down) and being taunted because of your race? I do think there is a difference, sure. I probably used a bad comparison. I'm all for the Williams sisters standing up for what they believe. Like I said, if they don't want to play, fine. I'm not arguing that concept at all. All I'm saying is that Venus and Serena might have to develop thicker skin (regardless of color) than those of us not playing professional tennis or sports in general. If the Williams' had to pay a fine because of their boycott, I think they can afford it. But for them to have to do some sort of local community service in the vicinity of the very same fans that apparently used the slurs is absurd.

posted by BoKnows at 06:32 PM on July 17

But when these white people became angry over something else, which they may or may not (see the reference to injury) have had any right to be angry about, how did they express it? And for how long? If you really believe that racism doesn't have anything to do with the fact that when they got angry, the word "nigger" and a reference to lynching came out, I think you're painfully naive. LBB, I would agree. Up to a point. It's certainly plausible that angry fans stupidly used racial epithets. But it's also plausible that the comments were not race based. Richard Williams may have heard "asshole" or "cheater" and in his mind that became the N-word and lynching. And that's why Williams' character is important. As far as I know, he is the chief, if not the only, witness to the racial epithets*. He has a history of outrageous comments so I do have my doubts. *If your BBC link says otherwise, my apologies but the link got borked.

posted by cjets at 06:47 PM on July 17

Their are plenty of examples of bad or questionable Tennis parent.. From Jimbo's mom to Martina Hingis's .. etc. How u can hold whatever statements from RIchard against his daughters is laughable. If serena feels she was treated disrespectfully at Indian Wells then its Indian Wells loss that neither of the Williams sisters will play their. Hey we hear all the time how certain people are sick of em.. will here u go.. a full tournament without either. I think they should continue to ignore the event and move on. And shoot if they are willing to play each other on Centre court why wouldn't they play each other at indian wells??

posted by Chicagojeff at 06:56 PM on July 17

What's that supposed to mean? I've been attending sporting events -- in the South, no less -- my entire life. I don't recall hearing racial epithets from angry fans. It means that if you take a large group of white people all ragging on one black person, some members of that group are going to say something racist. It doesn't have to be in the South. It doesn't have to be everyone yelling nigger in unison either. And that's why Williams' character is important. As far as I know, he is the chief, if not the only, witness to the racial epithets*. He has a history of outrageous comments so I do have my doubts. Serena doesn't have her doubts. She was there as well. Based on her comments, she must have thought it was racially motivated.

posted by bperk at 07:18 PM on July 17

lbb, bperk; please, I'm not trying to provoke you or minimize the seriousness of this issue. I was merely postulating a possible alternative. Their decision is based on what happened. Does anyone know for certain exactly what happened? Most sources say the crowd boo'd. Sources say it was Mr. Williams who stated that there were racial taunts, and given his background, I think its correct to question his veracity. I am in no way shape or form defending or condoning the actions of the fans if racial taunts or comments were made. Perhaps I didn't state my thoughts correctly, but I wasn't intentionally playing word games.

posted by irunfromclones at 07:37 PM on July 17

Serena doesn't have her doubts. She was there as well. Based on her comments, she must have thought it was racially motivated. Clearly she believes it is racially motivated. But my understanding is that Serena is reacting to what her father heard. If she heard racist comments herself, I have no reason to question her word.

posted by cjets at 07:51 PM on July 17

What have the Williams Sisters faced? They came into scene with chips on their shoulders. I also remember when Venus, on purpose gave Martina Hingis the shoulder as they were finished with a set they had a played, a set that Hingis had won and eventually won the match.

posted by retroin at 08:33 PM on July 17

I agree that it would be ridiculous for the WTA to punish them for their decision. Except for the fact that there is a rule in place that requires them to show up... What's that supposed to mean? I've been attending sporting events -- in the South, no less -- my entire life. I don't recall hearing racial epithets from angry fans. I second that. I have never heard any racial slurs at any of the professional sporting events that I have attended. It's not acceptable. The only place that happens is soccer in Europe. If I paid to see the semi-final match and somebody just "gave-up", I would be pissed off too. I don't know if it was right to boo Serena because of it, but the fact that the two are sisters alludes to some type of collusion. Plus, at that point in their careers, Venus was always kicking Serena's ass. So it seemed like she was just "giving" it (the finals) to her kid sister. Lastly, when has running away ever solved anything? Go back and kick ass. Win the tournament every damn year until you get the respect you deserve. "Boycotting" is a pansy ass move. What if Jackie Robinson boycotted every major league stadium that he heard racial slurs in? Standing up for yourself is a lot more respectable than whining and running away.

posted by docshredder at 08:33 PM on July 17

What rules were broken? Probably the new mandatory rules that are set to take place in the coming year, Isn't that what this about? Hell0

posted by retroin at 08:39 PM on July 17

Lastly, when has running away ever solved anything? Go back and kick ass. That's the best reason I've heard yet for the Williams sisters to play Indian Wells.

posted by rcade at 09:11 PM on July 17

The only place that happens is soccer in Europe The only place in professional sport? Evidence, please. Either provide some or I'd have to conclude that you don't get out much.

posted by owlhouse at 10:05 PM on July 17

What if Jackie Robinson boycotted every major league stadium that he heard racial slurs in? Standing up for yourself is a lot more respectable than whining and running away. Just because Jackie Robinson faced such deplorable working conditions doesn't mean that the Williamses should as well. Does anyone think that Jackie Robinson would say, "hey girls, stop whining, suck it up-I did?". Isn't this why Jackie stood up against such remarkable hatred, so that athletes that followed him wouldn't have to? I can get behind the idea that the sisters should go back and kick ass all over that tournament every year, that would be great to watch. That being said, I've got to respect their decision to boycott because that's how they are choosing to stand up for themselves, and I expect that they won't give a second thought to facing a penalty for it.

posted by captaincavegirl at 11:07 PM on July 17

Lastly, when has running away ever solved anything? Go back and kick ass. Win the tournament every damn year until you get the respect you deserve. "Boycotting" is a pansy ass move. So I guess the minutemen who boycotted English trade and eventually performed the Boston tea party were pansy asses. As well as the entire US for boycotting the Olympics back in the 80's. I always thought that the term 'boycott' was used to describe an individual or group who were abstaining from performing an expected occurence based on political or societial foundations. I guess it is a pansy-like move to use your power as union to boycott merchants who outsource their products and services to other countries as well. I think it is laudible that someone like the Williams sisters, with the proverbial soapbox, have made a stand and are not letting a body like the WTA derail them from their 'pansy' move. I also think that it as become inate in our American culture that fans think that because of the price of tickets, they have earned the right to yell anything they want at athletes. There is no clause or disclaimer on the back of any ticket I have purchased to any sporting event that says "Due to the inflated price printed on the front of this ticket, the bearer has the right to be an asshole, with special privelages that shall include permission to abuse an athletes ethnic or social background without recourse." I am sick of the arguement from drunken and morally deprived individuals declaring 'I bought a ticket. I can scream anything I want.' There is no ticket to a lack of self control, dignity and respect. I love a good "Airball" chant and even a "you suck" chant for an evil wrestler in the WWE. I saw the humor in the Todd BerGOONzy signs in the NHL. I don't take offense to a rousing cheer of BULLSHIT when a referee blows a call and then ejects a player for arguing about it. I think it is fairly clear to the vast majority of fans, and American citizens in general, where the line is. Criticize skill level, performance or the lack thereof, past actions on the field or court all you want, but keep verbally abusive racial slurs out of the stands and to yourself.

posted by knowsalittle at 01:28 AM on July 18

What just happened? Do I understand correctly, the WWE is going to have Charles Boycott vs. Eugene Debbs in a barb-wire match to settle the next Presidential election? I'm not sure if I read that right. Or if I write that red.

posted by yerfatma at 08:29 AM on July 18

Looking at this from a purely commercial angle, what would the promoters of the 2 events for which the Williams sisters were suspended think of this? If WTA has its way, two events will be without major drawing cards, thus possibly affecting attendance. If I were running a tournament, I would not be doing it for fun. The object is to make money or to gain some other commercial advantage. If the governing body of the sport inhibits my ability to make money, I would try to do something about it. Perhaps a competing tournament with larger prizes would do the trick? Somehow, WTA sounds like it might be taking dead aim at its own foot.

posted by Howard_T at 08:30 AM on July 18

I think Richard Williams falls out of bed every morning calling people racist. People of different enthicities that grew up in the early 50's, 60's and even 70's have a pretty hard time letting go of racially motivated comment's or actions. I was born in 1977 and even I had dealt with some type of racism when my mother bought a house in the suburbs in the early 90's. All I'm saying is that people that dealt with racism in a way that many of us will never have to deal with (not being able to sit in the front of a bus or being able to sit in a restaurant because the color of your skin) and we shouldn't just dismiss someone who did in fact deal with things of that nature just because you don't agree with his comments no matter how vile they may come across.

posted by BornIcon at 10:28 AM on July 18

Looking at this from a purely commercial angle, what would the promoters of the 2 events for which the Williams sisters were suspended think of this? If WTA has its way, two events will be without major drawing cards, thus possibly affecting attendance. Yes, even though there is the monetary penalty of not earning big bucks at the tournaments for which you are missing either by choice or penalty, this does remind me of grade school years ago, where they would suspend you for three days if they caught you skipping school more than once. If you cared even the least little bit, you wouldn't have skipped the initial time. I never saw that policy teach anyone anything nor deter anyone from skipping if that was their intention. I think the WTA should consider that. None of the world's top tennis players make even 50% of their income in tournament earnings. It mostly comes from endorsements, and I could see where some companies might want to use the pride angle for marketing, and even reward the Williams sisters for taking a stance.

posted by knowsalittle at 12:31 PM on July 18

The only place in professional sport? Evidence, please. Either provide some or I'd have to conclude that you don't get out much. What evidence do you want? How about you provide evidence to the contrary? I've been to literally hundreds of professional baseball/basketball/hockey/football(american) games and have never heard one racist slur before, during, or after the game. I'm sorry that people not rooting for Serena hurt her feelings so badly that she nor her sister can ever play there again... So I guess the minutemen who boycotted English trade and eventually performed the Boston tea party were pansy asses. As well as the entire US for boycotting the Olympics back in the 80's. I always thought that the term 'boycott' was used to describe an individual or group who were abstaining from performing an expected occurence based on political or societial foundations. I guess it is a pansy-like move to use your power as union to boycott merchants who outsource their products and services to other countries as well. Whoa, and I thought this was about sports...guess I was wrong, way wrong. There was also a time when a dime bag only cost a dime... There's a difference between uniting against oppression and throwing a fit because people booed you. Athletes get booed all of the time, and I don't see any other athletes boycotting any other events. All I'm saying is that people that dealt with racism in a way that many of us will never have to deal with (not being able to sit in the front of a bus or being able to sit in a restaurant because the color of your skin) and we shouldn't just dismiss someone who did in fact deal with things of that nature just because you don't agree with his comments no matter how vile they may come across. Wrong! That's exactly why you should just dismiss someone like that. He says things out of his ass. He's like a racial conspiracy theorist.

posted by docshredder at 08:27 PM on July 18

What evidence do you want? How about you provide evidence to the contrary? You claimed that the only place racist abuse occured in sports was in European football (soccer). That's a big claim, and I needed you to verify it, otherwise it would have just been a throw away line about a sport that you obviously don't watch, have never been to, and perhaps don't like, for whatever reasons you may have. Here's some evidence to the contrary, just over the last 12 months, and off the top of my head. Sorry I can't link the stories, but I'm sure you can google them: Motor Racing - Spanish 'fans' heckle Lewis Hamilton. Cricket - Indian crowds make monkey noises at Australian player Andrew Symonds Rugby League - Parramatta crowd abuses Brisbane player Petero Civoneciva Rugby Union - South African expats abuse their own team in Perth Baseball - heckling of Barry Bonds, and not just because of the BALCO rumours (check this with Dave Zirin's columns and reports) My point is that you can't say any sport is free of racial abuse from spectators. To single out European football (which has a problem, and is trying to do something about), is both poor reasoning and irrelevant to the discussion occuring about Indian Wells.

posted by owlhouse at 05:42 PM on July 19

pansy asses. As well as the entire US for boycotting the Olympics back in the 80's. Where the Olympics are concerned, yea that was a pansy ass move on the Regan Administration. The use of the American Olympians to try to resolve a political problem is about as low as you can get. Do you really believe that it had any affect? I feel the same way about those who resort to racial slurs, a very pansy assed move. It still amazes me that people don't hear/see how absolutly foolish they soundlook while doing it. I would not choose to return to an event at which I was cursed, booed, called racial slurs and can not expect anyone else too.

posted by Folkways at 06:02 PM on July 19

There's a difference between uniting against oppression and throwing a fit because people booed you That is true, but there is also a difference between whining and running away, and using one's exposure a professional athlete to bring to light an issue that some may have missed, forgotten or ignored. Based on the number of comments, her 'boycott' has brought an unsettled debate back into discusion. I must say that when I posted this story I was concerned that it would degrade into name calling and other racist crap, but I am very happy to see that the decorum of the individuals in SpoFi is intelligent and articulate, and that the monitoring of the site is timely and fair.

posted by knowsalittle at 10:00 PM on July 19

That's the best reason I've heard yet for the Williams sisters to play Indian Wells. Actually, part of me wants them to play at Indian Wells, both of them make the finals, and then both drop out 10 minutes before the match because of "injury". And then never return to Indian Wells again.

posted by grum@work at 08:46 AM on July 20

clones: Does anyone know for certain exactly what happened? Most sources say the crowd boo'd. Sources say it was Mr. Williams who stated that there were racial taunts, and given his background, I think its correct to question his veracity. And not question "most sources", all of which are probably white and some of which were probably among the taunters? Why is his veracity questionable but theirs unimpeachable?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:55 AM on July 20

I've been to literally hundreds of professional baseball/basketball/hockey/football(american) games and have never heard one racist slur before, during, or after the game. Another logician bites the dust.

posted by yerfatma at 06:18 PM on July 20

lbb: I don't recall ever saying that any source was unimpeachable. I do believe however that some sources are less believable than others. Why is it easier to believe a known racist might have heard some racist taunts, rather than it might have been just paying customers expressing their feelings by booing someone they thought cheated?

posted by irunfromclones at 01:29 AM on July 21

clones: Why is it easier to believe a known racist might have heard some racist taunts, rather than it might have been just paying customers expressing their feelings by booing someone they thought cheated? Oh, I don't know...let's see... - Because no cheating took place? - Because the person they were booing didn't do anything? - Because, while the Williams sisters had heard their share of boos and then some previous to this incident, Richard Williams had not previously mentioned incidents of being called "nigger" and threatened with lynching references? - Because I'm not inclined to give more credence to the accounts of people who were clearly misbehaving, or those who are acting as their apologists, than to te accounts of their victims? To believe, as you clearly want to do, that Richard Williams is making up this incident out fo whole cloth, you must ignore several inconvenient facts: that there was no cheating, that fans were clearly misbehaving, and that the fans targeted someone who had done nothing to offend them. Your choice.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:07 PM on July 21

Have any of y'all ever been to Palm Springs? They have a very large homosexual population and a very large retired population. People retire there because you can play golf 320 days a year. They have one of the largest gay pride events in the nation. Now I could see a bunch of old geesers calling out racist taunts....no. But then again I could see a bunch of homosexuals calling out racist taunts....nope. If this match were anywhere but Palm Springs, California, I would give it a little more credibility. There just aren't a bunch of skinheads or neo-nazis in Palm Springs or anywhere around there. Also, I highly doubt that skinheads or neo-nazis attend tennis events. and that the fans targeted someone who had done nothing to offend them. I think more than one person has told you why they would be offended. The family fixed the event, period. The older, better sister gave up so that her younger sister could have a shot at the final. What's so hard to understand about that? People paid to see the Semis, they got cheated out of however much money the tickets cost. Now, if you want to go the route of, "Oh, well Serena wasn't the one who withdrew." You are right, however the fact that her and Venus are SISTERS, changes the whole dynamic. Perhaps the fans were booing her because she wasn't the better sister and they wanted to see the best players in the finals? Can you seriously say that what happened in the Semis had nothing to do with what happended in the final? If some Russian had withdrew in the semis and then the fans booed Serena in the final (for no reason), your conspiracy theory would have some teeth.

posted by docshredder at 07:28 PM on July 21

I could see a bunch of homosexuals calling out racist taunts....nope. Because gay people are different.

posted by yerfatma at 07:53 PM on July 21

Now I could see a bunch of old geesers calling out racist taunts....no. But then again I could see a bunch of homosexuals calling out racist taunts....nope. If this match were anywhere but Palm Springs, California, I would give it a little more credibility. There just aren't a bunch of skinheads or neo-nazis in Palm Springs or anywhere around there. Also, I highly doubt that skinheads or neo-nazis attend tennis events. As yerfatma has already pointed out, being the target of discrimination doesn't mean you can't be bigoted towards others. Also, who's to say that the audience was drawn strongly from the local area? I think more than one person has told you why they would be offended. The family fixed the event, period. And your proof of this is what? People paid to see the Semis, they got cheated out of however much money the tickets cost. And therefore, it makes all kinds of sense for a different set of people to yell racist taunts in the final? Can you seriously say that what happened in the Semis had nothing to do with what happended in the final? If some Russian had withdrew in the semis and then the fans booed Serena in the final (for no reason), your conspiracy theory would have some teeth. My conspiracy theory? I'm not the one claiming a plot to fix the final, you are. You're making all kinds of sense. Really.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:53 PM on July 21

docshredder, I think more than one person has told you why they would be offended. The family fixed the event, period. The older, better sister gave up so that her younger sister could have a shot at the final. What's so hard to understand about that? Something else that also been pointed out is: It was two days later, and Serena Williams didn't do anything wrong. She didn't withdraw. Booing for her because they were pissed because her sister withdrew because of a legitimate injury ..... Thanks bperk. And to back up this report: The crowd booed the family March 17 after Venus pulled out of her semifinal match against Serena, citing knee tendinitis. CNN-SI She cited tendinitis in her right knee as the reason, but fans booed both sisters and their father, Richard Williams, last Saturday as Serena won the title. NY Times Venus Williams and Davenport withdrew last week from the tournament in Carson, with both citing right knee injuries. USA Today Injury or not, are you really justifying the use of racial slurs? You seem to be arguing that it was okay since there is apparently a fix on. Aren't the reports of what was said still the big question? Not whether or not Venus was really injured, in fact she wasn't the only player that withdrew from that tourney. Does that give the fans the right to verbally assault Lindsey Davenport too? But why is the legitimate injury hard for you to believe? It must be easy for all those fans, sitting on their asses to question Venus' injury. I doubt a single one has any idea how much time/work/practice that Venus puts in every week. Shit, my knees hurt when it rains, much less 5-6 10 hour days of running around a tennis court. So, you're right, she was faking it, and somehow that gives fans the right to take it out on her sister, 2 days later, using racial slurs. Got it.

posted by BoKnows at 12:34 AM on July 22

Venus Williams and Davenport withdrew last week from the tournament in Carson, with both citing right knee injuries. USA Today That's no comparison at all boknows. Those withdrawals took place before that tournament even began, while Venus withdrew minutes before the semi-final match began. These allegations could be nothing more than an attempt to deflect criticism and accusations of match fixing. Why be so quick to believe a guy who sees racism in any criticism of his daughters? All I and some others are suggesting is that perhaps there is another reason they were boo'd. So, a top seeded tennis player withdraws from a semi-final match with another top seeded player only minutes before it starts, and the other top seeded player just happens to be her sister. So instead of seeing a match they paid big bucks for, they get to go home and be OK with not getting what they paid for. When the final match does occur 2 days later with the sister and her opponent, they aren't allowed to let their displeasure at being deprived of a match under suspect conditions felt. Got it.

posted by irunfromclones at 12:26 PM on July 22

When the final match does occur 2 days later with the sister and her opponent, they aren't allowed to let their displeasure at being deprived of a match under suspect conditions felt. Booing is okay. Racial slurs are not.

posted by BoKnows at 12:38 PM on July 22

Booing is okay. Racial slurs are not No arguement there. I guess it has to do with your own perceptions. I would never utter racial slurs myself and tend to believe most other people are like me. I know that there are elements in society that would, but people like that seem remote to me, well outside the norm. I would just like to say how pleased I am that while this has been a spirited and even adversarial thread, no one has resorted to personal attacks or name calling. What the hell is wrong with you bozos?

posted by irunfromclones at 01:25 PM on July 22

Where the Olympics are concerned, yea that was a pansy ass move on the Regan Administration A pansy ass move on the part of the Carter administration, actually.

posted by JanetLand at 01:27 PM on July 22

What the hell is wrong with you bozos? Who are you calling a bozo, bozo? Personally, I run from bozos.

posted by BoKnows at 02:03 PM on July 22

That's no comparison at all boknows. Those withdrawals took place before that tournament even began, while Venus withdrew minutes before the semi-final match began. You still don't get it. Any player is allowed to withdraw from a match at any time. It's perfectly within the rules. Venus Williams is certainly not the only player who ever did it at the last minute; hell, people do it during a match, as Davenport did at Wimbledon this year. That's how it works in tennis. You don't follow tennis, do you? These allegations could be nothing more than an attempt to deflect criticism and accusations of match fixing. Yes, and that noise you hear over your house could be a black helicopter. Why be so quick to believe a guy who sees racism in any criticism of his daughters? All I and some others are suggesting is that perhaps there is another reason they were boo'd. Eh. Look. I read a really interesting article about a white guy who started a racism awareness organization of some sort. Seems he was driving one day when traffic was stopped by a bunch of teenagers traipsing across the street. The guy found himself thinking, "Move, nigger," and was shocked at his own thought. He realized something: that many white people like himself, the sort who would describe themselves as "not a racist" or "don't have a prejudiced bone in my body" or some such, when angered or upset by the actions of a person of a different race, would have racist overtones to their anger. What this guy realized was that the precipitating incident wasn't the real problem -- it was this reaction. That's what you seem so bent on not understanding. The problem is not a crowd that's upset because the match they came to see will not be held. It's how that displeasure is expressed, and the fact that it takes on a racist overtone. The players' race provides no basis for the crowd's beef; if they bring race into it, as they are alleged to have done, they are way, way outta line -- and their behavior is a bigger problem than what they were complaining of, just as the attitude of a white man who looks at a black teenager and thinks "nigger" is a bigger problem than said teenager's annoying teenager behavior. So, a top seeded tennis player withdraws from a semi-final match with another top seeded player only minutes before it starts, and the other top seeded player just happens to be her sister. So instead of seeing a match they paid big bucks for, they get to go home and be OK with not getting what they paid for. When the final match does occur 2 days later with the sister and her opponent, they aren't allowed to let their displeasure at being deprived of a match under suspect conditions felt. Got it. I'll ask you this question again, although as you seem determined not to answer any of the questions I raise, I don't think you'll answer it this time either: why on earth are you so dead certain that the two "theys" are the same?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:10 PM on July 22

WOW. Adult banter and timey conversations. Good job SpoFi.

posted by knowsalittle at 02:59 PM on July 22

on earth are you so dead certain that the two "theys" are the same? I assume that you know that the "theys" I refer to were the crowds in attendance the day of the semi-final, and on the day of the finals match involving one of the players from the defaulted semi-final. Why am I so dead certain that there were at least some of the same crowd in attendance for both? Unless you are willing to believe that at this tournament and no other, the crowd is suddenly a bunch of raving racists, what other explanation is there? How many other tournaments have the Williams sisters pulled out of because of racial taunts? I just have a hard time believing that people in this particular venue for no particular reason suddenly went redneck on her. Why boo her and make alleged racist comments on this particular occasion and no other?

posted by irunfromclones at 03:48 PM on July 22

I assume that you know that the "theys" I refer to were the crowds in attendance the day of the semi-final, and on the day of the finals match involving one of the players from the defaulted semi-final. Why am I so dead certain that there were at least some of the same crowd in attendance for both? You can skip the rephrase and just answer the question that I put to you, if you like. Or, if you want, you can rephrase it with the understanding that you're posing your own rhetorical question so as to not answer mine. The reason I asked it, btw, is because tickets at Indian Wells ain't cheap, and having a significant proportion of the same crowd show up for both semifinal and final matches is highly unlikely. How many other tournaments have the Williams sisters pulled out of because of racial taunts? What on earth are you talking about? They didn't "pull out" of any tournaments because of racial taunts, that I'm aware of. They are boycotting this one because of racist taunts. Are you somehow suggesting that they've never heard racist taunts at any other tournament? You're wrong. Happy now? I don't know why you are so bound and determined in your belief that the incident at Indian Wells was purely a product of Richard Williams' imagination. Can you provide a single cite of someone who says, "No, I was there, I was near Richard Williams and nobody used that word"?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:42 PM on July 22

I think my responses would have satisfied anyone else. You seem bound and determined to believe based on hearsay evidence that racial taunts were used. All I and others did here was to suggest a possible alternative. Given the circumstances, it does seem possible that at least some of the people who were there the day that Venus withdrew were also there the day that Serena played in the final. So yes, to me the "theys" are likely the same. People who usually pay for semi-final games will pay to be there at the finish. The circumstances being what they are, what other possible reason would they have for just going off on Serena if it wasn't for the suspected cheating? Has this venue a lot of history of hurling racial taunts at black players? Why pick this match, this player, and this particular time? Speaking of word games, what's the difference between pulling out of a tournament and boycotting it, other than just semantics. Any player is allowed to withdraw from a match at any time Perhaps, but when the players are sisters it would seem to be a tad suspicious in most people's minds. Can you provide a single cite of someone who says, "No, I was there, I was near Richard Williams and someone definitely used that word? I don't think I am alone in stating that I wouldn't take Mr. Williams word as gospel.

posted by irunfromclones at 07:30 PM on July 22

In the face of "facts" like these: People who usually pay for semi-final games will pay to be there at the finish. The circumstances being what they are, what other possible reason would they have for just going off on Serena if it wasn't for the suspected cheating? ...and other "Is not, is not, is not, 2+2=5, infinity!" argumentation, well, gosh, I'm just utterly defeated. I give up.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:02 PM on July 22

The circumstances being what they are, what other possible reason would they have for just going off on Serena if it wasn't for the suspected cheating? A large part of how racism plays out today is a complete unwillingness to give a black person the benefit of the doubt. Eagerly believing the worst of a black athlete when you wouldn't do so for a white athlete. That is how racism usually plays out. There are countless examples of this. So, when you see something so out of the ordinary as an athlete getting booed before the match, during an entire match, and even during the victory ceremony, it is perfectly reasonable to question if racism was involved. Why did the crowd suspect cheating? If Venus withdrew hours before, Serena still would have gotten through to the finals, but the crowd would have seen completely different people playing. Would that have been a terrible offense as well? Believing that Venus didn't want to win, and that their father fixed the match without any evidence to do so is completely ridiculous. And, let's not forget that the doctor must have also been a part of this conspiracy with this fake injury. The fact that a huge number of people were willing to believe such foolishness and mercilessly boo Serena who did absolutely nothing wrong is mind-boggling. Racism seems like a pretty good explanation to me. Obviously, Serena thinks so. That should really be enough as far as I am concerned, and no one should question her on it. She has done absolutely nothing to give anyone a reason to question her credibility.

posted by bperk at 08:20 PM on July 22

lbb- I offered a plausible alternative, as did others in this thread. It just seemed odd to me that for no other reason offered than racial bias, an entire tennis crowd decided to taunt a player with racist comments. A completely racist crowd showed up at that tournament. What are the odds? In the literally hundreds of games I have attended in my life in many different sports and states, not once did I hear a racial slur directed at any athlete of any color. And bperk, at what point in this timeline does the doctor hold a press conference to discuss Venus' injury? Is it so difficult to at least entertain the thought that people were just pissed rather than that the entire crowd consisted of rabid racists? And I am really dissapointed in you for making the accusation that I would "eagerly" believe the worst of a black athlete but wouldn't for a white one. Read my posts. At any time have I posted anything on spofi that would lead you to believe that?

posted by irunfromclones at 08:56 PM on July 22

The "eagerly" wasn't directed at you. I was being descriptive as to how racism plays out. I think you either missed my point entirely or are mocking racism in this country when you responded to my post using the phrase "rabid racist." If you don't want to bother recognizing the reality of racism, and want to pretend that only yelling "nigger" while wearing a white sheet is racism, that's okay by me. I will never engage you on the subject again. But, yes, I have a very, very hard time believing that a young white woman would have been booed so mercilessly for the same non-offense.

posted by bperk at 09:33 AM on July 23

But, yes, I have a very, very hard time believing that a young white woman would have been booed so mercilessly for the same non-offense. I would have to disagree. A recent example of that type of booing was on display in New York at the All Star game, discussed here on Spofi. Papelbon's offense? He said he wanted to close instead of Rivera. Fair or unfair, correct or incorrect, here's what it seems that the fans of Indian Wells believed: 1. Venus' withdrawal was fake. She did it to give Serena the win (again, I'm not saying this was true. I'm saying that the fans believed this.) This was stage managed by her father. 2. Venus withdrew 2 minutes before the match started. If she had even given Indian Wells 30 minutes notice they could have rescheduled another match. Instead, there was no match played. People paid alot of money for nothing. This is gonna make anyone upset. 3. Even if the fans of the finals were not the same fans as in the semifinals, they were certainly aware of the incident. So, the fans felt that they had a right to boo. Again, I'm not claiming that they were right. I'm just trying to explain the mind set of the fans as I understood it. Did racism play a role in the mind set of the fans? Maybe. Does this excuse racism even if Venus did withdraw for bogus reasons? Of course not. Did fans yell racist things? Maybe. I'm still not convinced especially if Richard Williams is the only witness. I do believe that if this same type of incident had occured with two white sisters and people believed they were cheating, they would have been booed mercilessly as well. People will boo for all sorts of reasons that don't involve race, and the Papelbon incident is a good example of that. As far as Serena claiming it was racism, I believe that she is taking the word of her father. (And, by the way, as much as I think Richard Williams says outrageous things which negatively effect race relations, clearly he was instrumental in raising two world class tennis players who also have lives outside of tennis. So kudos to him for that. It's unfortunate his views on race relations are so outrageous and wrong headed.)

posted by cjets at 12:00 PM on July 23

I would have to disagree. A recent example of that type of booing was on display in New York at the All Star game The All-Star game? Is that a tennis tournament? 2. Venus withdrew 2 minutes before the match started. If she had even given Indian Wells 30 minutes notice they could have rescheduled another match. And how could they have done that? Bring in a replacement player to play the semi? Move a match that was supposed to have been played the next day into that slot, with 30 minutes notice? So, the fans felt that they had a right to boo. Again, I'm not claiming that they were right. I'm just trying to explain the mind set of the fans as I understood it. But where does your understanding come from? What account, exactly, gave you this understanding of the fan mindset? I'm asking because this is starting to seem like a game of telephone, where people in this thread have an "impression" which is based not on first-hand knowledge or even second-hand or third-hand knowledge of the actual events, but from the comments of others in this thread who themselves are working from third-hand knowledge at best. Did fans yell racist things? Maybe. I'm still not convinced especially if Richard Williams is the only witness. If it didn't happen, why did the tournament director not deny it? He's got the most at stake either way. As far as Serena claiming it was racism, I believe that she is taking the word of her father. At her age, she needs her father to tell her that the word "nigger" is racist?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:53 PM on July 23

I think my responses would have satisfied anyone else. Color me unreasonable.

posted by yerfatma at 01:14 PM on July 23

The All-Star game? Is that a tennis tournament? It's a sporting event. The point was made that a white woman would not have been booed like this. People are booed mercilessly for many reasons, not all of which have to do with race. This may have been racially motivated. It may not have been. I don't like the implication (and I'm not saying it's you LBB) that it HAD to be racism because they're African American. And how could they have done that? Bring in a replacement player to play the semi? Move a match that was supposed to have been played the next day into that slot, with 30 minutes notice? As ESPN's Cliff Drysdale noted, had Venus given even half an hour's notice that she would not play, another match could have been brought in for the waiting crowd and TV cameras. Drysdale commented that Thursday's events were bad for the tournament and for tennis in general. But where does your understanding come from? What account, exactly, gave you this understanding of the fan mindset? I'm asking because this is starting to seem like a game of telephone, where people in this thread have an "impression" which is based not on first-hand knowledge or even second-hand or third-hand knowledge of the actual events, but from the comments of others in this thread who themselves are working from third-hand knowledge at best. From the same article: The crowd was not in a forgiving mood two days later. Many booed Serena as soon as she walked out on the court and continued all the way through her victory celebration. Adding to the controversy was renewed speculation that Richard Williams, Venus and Serena's father, might have engineered what transpired. Elena Dementieva, who lost to Venus in the quarterfinals, said afterward that she thought Richard Williams would decide which sister would win the semifinal. This led to sharp denials by Richard, Venus, and Serena, as well as Bart McGuire, CEO of the WTA Tour. The trainer who treated Venus's right-knee tendinitis also defended the legitimacy of her injury. And it's also what I remember at the time as well. Again, I'm not saying the fans were right but the controversy was getting a lot of play and people reacted. If it didn't happen, why did the tournament director not deny it? He's got the most at stake either way. Here's what he said: Indian Wells officials didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Charles Pasarell, director of the Indian Wells tournament, told USA Today he was embarrassed by the boos. As for racial taunting, Pasarell said, "If Richard says someone yelled something, maybe they did, but I know that's not Indian Wells people." It's hard to prove a negative. But if people did say this, why didn't anyone else come forward. Williams has said vile, outrageous things over and over again. He's simply not credible to me. Another quote from the story: Williams developed his daughters into Grand Slam champions but has a history of outrageous comments. Top-ranked Martina Hingis, who didn't attend the Indian Wells final, said she likes the sisters but discounted Richard Williams' allegations. "I think it's total nonsense," Hingis said. "I don't feel like there is any racism on the tour. It's a very international sport, and I even would say because they may be black, they have a lot of advantages. ... They can always say it's racism." During the 1997 U.S. Open, Richard Williams alleged that a collision between Irina Spirlea and Venus Williams on a changeover was racially motivated. At her age, she needs her father to tell her that the word "nigger" is racist? Really? That's what you think I meant? I don't believe she heard any racial epithets. Just the booing. I believe she is taking her father's word that the N-word was used. Another quote: Serena Williams said she hadn't spoken to her father about his allegations and couldn't confirm them. "I'm not really trying to get involved in any type of controversy," she said. "I stick by my dad and know that he's usually a very true-hearted person."

posted by cjets at 01:23 PM on July 23

I don't like the implication (and I'm not saying it's you LBB) that it HAD to be racism because they're African American. I guess you are talking about me. Well, I don't like the implication that racism is never part of the mistreatment of black athletes. See, I can mischaracterize your point of view as well. Just the booing. I believe she is taking her father's word that the N-word was used. This is ridiculous. You know better than Serena if there was a racial component because Serena is being duped by her father.

posted by bperk at 02:27 PM on July 23

I guess you are talking about me. Well, I don't like the implication that racism is never part of the mistreatment of black athletes. See, I can mischaracterize your point of view as well. If I were talking about you Bperk, I would have used your quote and your name. Why don't you address the issue instead of looking for alleged insults which were never made (Hmm. Doesn't that sound familiar). I singled out LBB to say it's not her because I was responding, in great detail, to her post. When I want to disagree with you, like right now or earlier in the post, I have no problems doing so. This is ridiculous. You know better than Serena if there was a racial component because Serena is being duped by her father. What's ridiculous is that you are so sure I'm insulting you that you didn't read my post. I'll try again. When Serena was asked about the alleged racist comments after the match, here's what she said: Serena Williams said she hadn't spoken to her father about his allegations and couldn't confirm them. "I'm not really trying to get involved in any type of controversy," she said. "I stick by my dad and know that he's usually a very true-hearted person." If Serena had heard the N-word during the match, don't you think she would have mentioned it then, when she was questioned about it? The fact that she didn't is further evidence that she heard about the racist comments from her father after this press conference. My best guess is that she went back and talked to her dad. Her dad repeated the allegations we are all familiar with and she believes him. Why wouldn't she? By all accounts, he is a great dad who helped both daughters become multimillionaire star athletes and fabulously successful. In fact, I'm sure he has many useful parenting tips. It's too bad, as I said before, that his views on race are so outrageous and wrong-headed.

posted by cjets at 02:52 PM on July 23

It's a sporting event. The point was made that a white woman would not have been booed like this. People are booed mercilessly for many reasons, not all of which have to do with race. But it's not irrelevant that this was a tennis match. The meaning of booing and jeers at a tennis match is very, very different than it is at a baseball game, and represents a different level of misconduct. This may have been racially motivated. It may not have been. I don't like the implication (and I'm not saying it's you LBB) that it HAD to be racism because they're African American. So who is making that implication? If it's not me, and it's not bperk, who exactly is making that implication? Cite? As ESPN's Cliff Drysdale noted, had Venus given even half an hour's notice that she would not play, another match could have been brought in for the waiting crowd and TV cameras. Drysdale commented that Thursday's events were bad for the tournament and for tennis in general. Let's go over this again. This was a semifinal match. What other match would they have put in its place? Not the other women's singles semifinal, I guarantee that. Not one of the men's singles semifinals, I can guarantee that too. It would have been something like a junior men's doubles match. Do you really think the crowd, which was hyper-pissed over the loss of their match, would have been okay with that as a substitute match?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:54 PM on July 23

If Serena had heard the N-word during the match, don't you think she would have mentioned it then, when she was questioned about it? The fact that she didn't is further evidence that she heard about the racist comments from her father after this press conference. I just disagree that the only two options are that Serena heard racial taunts herself or she heard it only from her dad. And, I don't believe that she would necessarily have said if she heard some racial taunts from the crowd. Playing in a mainly white sports forces the Williams sisters to tread carefully. She didn't want to be drawn into a racial discussion because that is a loser for her. Her sister could have told her what she heard since she was there as well. Or, she could have drawn her own conclusions based on the crowd and her own experiences. I guess my big issue is I don't see why she just isn't given the benefit of the doubt on this. This is her only boycott going. She has heard racial taunts since then and the tournament organizers kicked the person out and she went about her business. She isn't hypersensitive. She never says the kinds of things her father has, and it is clear that neither of the girls share his radical views. Why is it hard to believe that she is right?

posted by bperk at 04:26 PM on July 23

who exactly is making that implication? Perhaps the authors of the following quotes: But, yes, I have a very, very hard time believing that a young white woman would have been booed so mercilessly for the same non-offense. The fact that a huge number of people were willing to believe such foolishness and mercilessly boo Serena who did absolutely nothing wrong is mind-boggling. Racism seems like a pretty good explanation to me. The problem is not a crowd that's upset because the match they came to see will not be held. Can you provide a single cite of someone who says, "No, I was there, I was near Richard Williams and nobody used that word"? As was pointed out before, proving the negative is very difficult. I said before that I respect the William's sisters' right to withdraw from any tourney at which they don't feel welcome, and agree that the treatment in question was bush league, whether racially motivated or not. I just don't understand why it is so implausible that Richard Williams, known to cry "wolf" when nobody else sees one, could have misheard, misconstrued, misunderstood, or otherwise misrepresented the reality of this situation.

posted by tahoemoj at 04:30 PM on July 23

But it's not irrelevant that this was a tennis match. The meaning of booing and jeers at a tennis match is very, very different than it is at a baseball game, and represents a different level of misconduct. The Papelbon incident took place on a city street in a parade honoring the All-Stars (as well as during the game). It too represents a"different level of misconduct" that has nothing to do with race. I'll say this one more time: There was a reason for booing (right or wrong, fair or unfair) that had nothing to do with race, the allegation that they somehow fixed the match. Did race enter into this perception? Maybe. Cite? No. Or how about Richard Williams? He heard the merciless booing, assumed it must be racist and made up the appropriate comments. As ESPN's Cliff Drysdale noted, had Venus given even half an hour's notice that she would not play, another match could have been brought in for the waiting crowd and TV cameras. Drysdale commented that Thursday's events were bad for the tournament and for tennis in general. Let's go over this again. This was a semifinal match. What other match would they have put in its place? Not the other women's singles semifinal, I guarantee that. Not one of the men's singles semifinals, I can guarantee that too. It would have been something like a junior men's doubles match. Do you really think the crowd, which was hyper-pissed over the loss of their match, would have been okay with that as a substitute match? Take it up with Cliff Drysdale. I find his comments plausible and any match would have been better than no match at all. You are so determined to find racism that you refuse to hear anything else. I certainly concede that racism is a plausible explanation, but like Clones before me, I am not convinced. I wasn't there so I just don't know. And neither do you. And, as I said, many posts earlier, I'm fine with her boycotting the tournament. Why is it hard to believe that she is right? Because I've never heard her once say that she heard the taunts with her own ears. And the fact that she didn't mention it then, but does now is evidence (but not proof) that she did not hear it with her own ears. Maybe Richard Williams is telling the truth. But his many outrageous comments casts doubt on his credibility. ON PREVIEW: What Tahoemoj said

posted by cjets at 04:37 PM on July 23

Richard Williams has said he doesn't like white people. Plus, he said all kinds of mean things after this Indians Wells incident. From that, it is believable that he has lied for years to his daughter telling her that they had been called the most hurtful word he could think of. He told her this lie that would hurt her personally, professionally, and financially. And, he did all of this because he doesn't like white people. In the most sinister of moves, he convinced Venus to also lie by saying she heard the same thing. Sure, this is much more believable than believing that some people in a very hostile crowd really did say these horrible things.

posted by bperk at 06:15 PM on July 23

Someone doesn't have to be lying to be inaccurate.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:49 PM on July 23

The only person who ever mentioned any racial issues regarding the whole Indian Wells situation was....RICHARD WILLIAMS. No one else said that they heard anything similar to what RICHARD WILLIAMS alleges. Life should be like Soccer. You only get two cards (race cards) and then your out of the match. Sorry Mr. Williams, you already used your two race cards... To those of you who believe Richard Williams: The Army is looking for people who want to go to IRAQ and look for the weapons of mass destruction...

posted by docshredder at 07:47 PM on July 23

"Truly offensive language, like the racist remarks hurled at New England's Kheli Dube a few months ago in Columbus, are not cool." From this link in a post on this site. Maybe there still is a little racism in American sports fans.

posted by yerfatma at 10:08 AM on July 24

I would imagine that Venus and Serena see their father far more clearly than people give them credit for. I'm willing to bet that they've grown up hearing Richard rant about race and probably spend a good deal of time rolling their eyes. If Richard Williams is as wrong-minded as most people seem to think he is, I'm sure his daughters see it too. Granted, they're obviously shaped by his beliefs to an extent but don't most of us consider ourselves more forward-thinking, tolerant, and enlightened than our parents? I don't think it's fair to assume that the sisters are blindly following their father without their own clarity about what occurred at Indian Wells. They know how he is and I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they wouldn't take such a dramatic stance against a tournament without a better reason than "daddy said".

posted by captaincavegirl at 12:44 PM on July 24

Someone doesn't have to be lying to be inaccurate. But, Venus says in cjets link that she heard the same thing as her father. Why is it so hard to just concede that people said some terrible things to the family? Why does it have to be about Richard Williams and his credibility? I agree, captaincavegirl.

posted by bperk at 03:17 PM on July 24

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