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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Feb 23, 2011

2/23/2011 4:00:00 PM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Archive |

Serena Williams.  Either you love her, you hate her, you love hating her or you hate loving her.  You fall into one of these categories, and if you say you don’t you’re lying, you know you’re lying, and God will get you.

Whichever camp you fall into, one thing you’re not when it comes to Serena is indifferent. Case in point, on Monday, Serena shocked a grand total of no one by withdrawing from the Nike Clash of Champions exhibition on March 8. She was to take the court alongside some randoms named Roger, Rafa and Maria, but instead she’ll be sassing it up on the sidelines as a referee. No sooner did news break than the internet became a bloody crime scene in which Serena’s battered body was dragged from site to site for the peeved masses to have at with sticks and stones.

How could she commit to an event that even the headless knew there was no way she’d be able to play?!

I’m going to do a bit of loose translating. As roughly 12,000 tickets were sold to the event, I’m going to make the assumption that only 12,000 people were directly affected. And with all due respect to Serena, with Federer, Nadal and Sharapova on the bill as well, I’m going to suggest that not all 12,000 ticket buyers were there to see her. So what is everyone else so riled up about?

LIES! That’s what. Serena has been lying for months. Lying about how she hurt herself, lying about where she hurt herself, lying about her prognosis, lying about her competitive fire, lying about her plans, lying about everything.

That’s the idea anyway. Is she actually lying?  How’s this for a crazy conclusion: what business is it of ours in the first place? Why is it our God-given right to know every nuance of Serena Williams’ medical condition? She’s a professional athlete, absolutely, but even the police can’t have access to our medical records without a subpoena. Do we outright own her?  Is she allowed no privacy?

More importantly, is she allowed no sympathy?  Whatever we don’t know about The Great Foot Caper of 2010, what we do know is the poor woman has been in a boot near-nonstop since July. JULY. That she hasn’t chewed it off with her teeth shows she’s a better person than I, because I would’ve gone bat-shiz crazy with that thing stuck to me all this time no matter how many Swarovski crystals I glue-gunned onto it.

The Great Foot Caper

I’m not the president of the Serena Williams fan club. Those aforementioned four categories? I fall into each and every one of them. I own it. Anytime Serena attempts to sell me anything I seriously consider breaking one of my fingers. If I have to hear about Green Day one more time I might puncture my own eardrums with my car keys. Asking her fans on Twitter how many Grand Slams she’d won because she forgot made my eyes roll so far back in my head I saw brain. And the minute she tweeted about being too digitally dead to tell us that she was about to go on Home Shopping I threw up my hands and no small portion of my lunch.

But.

I fall in love with her all over again every time she hits a tennis ball. While I’m the first to stand up and give an Arsenio Hall Dog Pound Salute to court craft, no single shot makes me react more viscerally than a brutally struck ball. And Serena is a murderer.

And yet she’s been kept off the court by something beyond her control. And for a really really really long time. Rather than lay into Serena and demand a doctor’s note written in blood, how about showing a little respect for someone who’s done an awful lot for this sport over the past 15 years? Or at the very least a little compassion for someone who saw the No 1 ranking stripped from her because of injury, losing so much momentum and so much conditioning? And don’t be fooled, whatever her rep is as a brilliant rebounder, it won’t be like snapping fingers to get that back. Especially not a year shy of 30.

It’s completely fair to be curious about what was concealed inside that boot. It’s fair to ask questions and even beg for answers.  But there’s a reason she’s not supplying them. And there comes a point when all the speculation and accusations just gets blatantly nasty. When enough becomes enough. When you kind of have to treat someone like a human being.

Mario Ancic was forced to retire this week because his back just couldn’t bear the rigors of the tour.  This after being completely derailed by mono.  This was a huge huge talent.  Life happens.  Careers are stopped in their prime.  I for one can only hope Serena hasn’t been dealt that same hand.

Let me be clear. I do not feel the tour is ailing without Serena. Conversely, I don’t think her absence is allowing the rest of the tour to shine when they would otherwise not.  I’m simply saying something I haven’t heard enough of lately:

I miss the crap out of Serena Williams. 

Word on the street is she just hopped out of that boot. Love her, hate her, love to hate her, hate to love her, or all of the above.  I just want her back where she belongs.

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Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.