With US Open Tirade About to Make News Again, Serena Williams Hits Right Note with Ad

This is good. Serena Williams’ new commercial for Wilson is funny. In fact, I like all these commercials, where Roger Federer or Venus Williams or Serena drags a couch out onto the court and serves as a psychologist for some hacker.

In this case, Serena pokes fun at herself for her threatening f-bomb-laced tirade at a line judge at the 2009 U.S. Open. It has been nearly two years, and you’d think her most embarrassing moment would be gone now, especially after all that has happened with her.

But it’s not gone. When she goes back to the Open in a few weeks, it will be her first time there since her tantrum. That’s going to be a story. That is going to be closure.

It’s still needed for some people. And it’s going to be interesting to see how New Yorkers treat her. She has been so inconsistent in what she has said about that day: Issuing a terrible non-apology apology, then apologizing, then saying she was right, then complaining about being fined for it, then acting perfectly at the Australian Open.

She is a sympathetic character now, after her illness and injury over the past year.

The interesting thing is that in all this time, not one definitive photo or video shoot, not from TV or even from anyone’s camcorder or phone, ever emerged to show whether Williams actually did foot fault or not. (She did). The TV camera angle was from behind the baseline, so you can’t tell how far her left foot moved when she inched her heel forward.

At the time, John McEnroe said on TV that a line judge can’t make that call. Some people interpreted that to mean he was saying she hadn’t foot-faulted. In fact, he served as gas on the fire of the debate later. But that’s not what he meant. He was just saying that whether Williams foot-faulted or not, the line judge shouldn’t have called it. That’s nuts, by the way.

Either way, when I asked him last year, he admitted he hadn’t actually seen whether her foot had touched the line or not.

Plenty of media members, including me, saw that she did foot fault. One section of media seating was just back over the line judge’s shoulder. When she foot-faulted, I pointed out in surprise before the call even was made.

Well, her tirade led to a point penalty on what would have been match point. So she lost that semifinal match to Kim Clijsters, who went on to win the tournament.

But whatever. The story is about to pop up again, and Williams and Wilson clearly know that. That’s where this commercial comes from.

The guy she’s helping looks an awful lot like a smaller version of Andy Roddick. And it’s interesting that when she tells him to get his feet off her couch, and he says his feet weren’t actually touching the couch, the fact is, his feet were touching.

Just like hers were in 2009.

Maybe she’s just trying to laugh this off, and people won’t accept that. But to me, she handles it perfectly. Nothing like poking fun at yourself.

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

3 responses to “With US Open Tirade About to Make News Again, Serena Williams Hits Right Note with Ad

  • Paula V.

    Looks like Nike got a bit of free advertising in this ad.

  • Lita

    IF her ‘tantrum’ gets press, they why doesn’t the fact she was robbed in her semi-finals match in 2004 against Jennifer Capriati get any press? That was the worst show of officiating ever in history. Maria Alves did a horrible job as the chair. The lines people who missed out calls which were as far out as 2-3 inches or more. As I recall, John McEnroe,Trac Austin and one other announcer said this was a shame and disgrace that officials were officiating the match that badly, and Serena did WELL to keep her composure with all the incompetence going on in that match. As most are aware, that match gave instant replay the push we needed and thank God we have that at our disposal in 2011. Come to think of it, Jennifer Capriati’s bad sportsmanship also was something I remember as well. She said she didn’t know if any of those calls were out, and she was standing near several of those key out and wrong lines calls. Why isn’t Capriati’s bad sportsmanship discussed amongst HER many indiscretions and f-bomb tirades? Anyway, my point is WHY is this one ‘tantrum’ allegedly still such a big deal out of a stellar 15 or so year career of Serena’s career?

  • CSM

    Actually, it’s a ridiculous ad. Making light of a clear-cut assault is appalling.

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