Just a word about Serena’s foot fault.
No — she should not have mouthed off like she did.
I’m all for keeping one’s mouth shut on the tennis court.
But, others have done it. When Nastase lost it, and when McEnroe lost it — their outbursts sometimes contained strategy. Often, when McEnroe said he got a bad call, he really did get a bad call. But he also complained about good calls. Either way, his outbursts distracted his opponent and often changed the momentum in a match.
McEnroe took down BjÃ¶rn Borg at Wimbledon. Borg was the coolest of cool cucumbers. Yes, the interruptions were entertaining for TV audiences . It was probably good for tennis. But I’m not so sure McEnroe would have ended Borg’s run the year he did if he had kept his mouth shut and played tennis.
Jimmy Connors got lots of help from his mouth, throughout his long career. I seriously doubt he would have made the semis of the U.S. Open at age 39 if he had kept his mouth shut.
Serena Williams, however, was not trying to distract anybody or throw off her opponent. She was genuinely blindsided by that call — and for good reason. That was the most pissy call I’ve ever seen in my life.
Most players who foot fault have a chronic problem with it. Serena had not had one called on her all year, much less earlier in the match. For a line judge to call that for the first time on a point that crucial, 5-4, second serve, giving her opponent a match point — that’s wrong!
On top of that, it was questionable as to whether it was a foot fault anyway. If probably was — but if so — I doubt it was her first.
It was simply a terrible call — which is why Serena went nuts (not that she should have).
Please know that I played a lot of tennis back when the name of the game was serving and coming into the net.
I’m short. So when I did not foot fault and my six foot two opponent did, on his way to the net — it was a real disadvantage. It was real cheating. And it happened a lot.
So I’m not one to preach against calling foot faults. I hate it when people get away with foot faults. I love it when people call foot faults. I don’t foot fault. In my view, it’s no different from hitting the ball out.
But it’s a rule that’s not consistently enforced. And it’s unfair to start one point away from match point on a second serve in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open.
It was a horrible reaction to an even worse call.