On Thursday morning, Serena Williams defeated Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-4 at the Australian Open. It may not have been Serena’s most dominant performance ever, but she was never in danger of losing, and most importantly she now moves on to the third round.
After the match, the first question posed to Williams was about unforced errors and double-faults, implying that she had not played well. Let’s just say she disagreed with the premise of the question. Here’s the exchange:
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 19, 2017
Whew, you do not want to mess with Serena. That reporter didn’t even protest, he just backed down immediately. He walked into that press conference thinking Serena had played poorly, then when she said she didn’t, he changed his mind and apologized. It wasn’t even an unreasonable question. You hear some version of the “you could’ve played better” construction at press conferences all the time.
The press is trained to stand up to those it covers, to refuse to be intimidated by powerful people. Then Serena Williams comes along and reporters cower. I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed for this reporter who caved at the first confrontation or in awe of the power of Serena to bend people to her will through sheer ferocity.
The lesson here is, if you’re gonna criticize Serena, you better be prepared for her to criticize you right back.