By Joe McDonald Photo Credit: Natasha Peterson/Corleve
(August 31, 2011) When we last saw Serena Williams step foot in the Borough of Queens, she threatened a line judge with her racket after committing a foot fault, ultimately forfeiting her semifinal match against Kim Clijsters in 2009.
The incident cost her around $95,000 in fines and also put her on probation for the 2010 and 2011 US Opens.
She didn’t play last year due to a foot injury, so that made her first round matchup last night against Bojana Jovanowski her first appearance in the 718 area code since the foot fault heard around the world.
Even though she is a low seed (28th due to injuries), this is still Serena Williams so of course she cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
But it’s not a Serena match without some controversy. Last night the Open set her match as the late start, so she had to wait three hours for Rafael Nadal to win his round. And of course Williams couldn’t hold her tongue about it.
“No, I think the guys should play second,” she said. “They're guys. We're ladies. We're ladies. They should totally play second all the time. Ladies, you open the door for ladies. They should go second. It's ridiculous.”
Before last year’s Open, the ladies always went first, but then in 2010 the Open decided to mix up the matches with some nights having the men in the lead-off spot.
It’s pretty obvious why this is done – money. With the Open taking ESPN’s money, they have become slaves to what the networks want to see in primetime. ESPN’s ratings are dictated by the Eastern Time Zone, which is the most populous part of the United States. Prime time is 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., so you can understand why the network will want the biggest ratings grabber for its first match.
So when it came down to the defending US Open Men’s champion and international star, or Serena, whose first round match-up was a mockery then you can understand what would go first.
Frankly, Serena will be more than glad to take all the prize money from the Open – equal prize money with the men for that matter – so she should sometimes bite the bullet for the bigger and better matches.
With the spotlight on her this year and the zero tolerance policy she has with the Open after two years ago, Serena should just keep her head down and play the game.
The bottom line is this Serena got off easy two years ago, but if anything happens this year then she will probably face harsher sanctions from tennis’ governing bodies.