84.72% of Serena Williams


Title Nine states that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity….”. Although the intricacies of this said law has been touted as the allowance of females to participate in athletic programs on both the high school and collegiate levels; Title Nine never actually states anything regarding sports. It’s main function was to fight against the inequalities levied against the female population as it relates to their place amongst men in a societal structure. Although race has been noted as the greatest of the biases executed throughout history, one could challenge that gender bias is all but a close second in the pecking order. If we dig deeper into the trench that is life, we see examples of this Biblically, as the women throughout the text are often referred to as “the mother of”, “the daughter of”‘, “the wife of”, with the exception of only a few individuals like Jezebel (Queen of Israel) and Jael (Heroine responsible for delivering Israel from King Jabin). Yes, the role of women in society is usually that of an asterisk or an afterthought. Even in our casual references, we still hear amongst a collaboration of male, testosterone laced conversations, that “he plays like a girl” or “he hits like a woman”. I often find myself asking if that “woman he plays like or hits like” happened to be Laila Ali or Rhonda Rousey, would they actually stand unguarded and allow them to free swing at their jaw? And just how many men who actually snub and snide Danica Patrick, really could drive full throttle like her without killing themselves on the first lap? We saw this discriminatory plague become somewhat cured in 1973, in the famed “Battle of Sexes” tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Billy Jean King (female) would go on to defeat Bobby Riggs (male) in a exhibition match after Riggs boasted that the female game was inferior to that of its male contemporary’s. This is a perfect segue into my subject of interest and why 84.72% of Serena Williams still seems to not be enough.

We live at the apex of the social media era, where as nothing happens without someone having a camera or recording device to capture it. As the waning moments of 2013’s US Open Women’s Championship match had concluded (fascinating match by the way) with Serena Williams capturing her fifth championship of the annual tournament for the second straight year in a row, all I could think about was crickets. I knew that the minute the camera would close its eye on Arthur Ashe Stadium and the world media would have concluded its final photo-ops with the participants, that this great event that ended up becoming the longest tennis match in women’s history would be quickly replaced by snarling Cowboy fans cheering mediocrity or upset NY Giant fans who are seeking to trade their entire team after one game as if it was the Super Bowl. Meanwhile a real sporting story for the ages is being covered like a junior varsity game. Serena Williams in this modern era of sports has a resume that exceeds Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Colin Kaepernick, RGIII, and many more of the other overhyped mechanisms that ESPN and endorsement driven manufacturers display in their collective ad campaigns. Since 1999, Serena Williams has captured 17 Grand Slam Championships. That’s three more than the Tiger Woods has captured in golf majors, with his last win coming in 2008. Yet still, we find Tiger’s face plastered all over ESPN as a loser. We see Lebron James, who albeit dominant at times, struggle against inferior teams that Michael Jordan would have devoured in his sleep. Yet, he gets more publicity than Lady GaGa performing at a nun convention for winning two championships in ten years. Experts claim that he’s the best in the world. Really? So if the best in the world is based on struggling to dominate or not being relevant since 2008, then to borrow a line from the movie Titanic, Serena Williams must be the “King (Queen) of the World!” Serena, for mathematical purposes, has won 84.72% of her career matches. If we round it up that means there’s an 85% chance that she will win every time she touches a tennis racket. If this was a man, the words “immortal” and “God Like” would be phrases offered up to describe such dominance. If someone was to tell you that eight and half out of ten tries that you were predestined for success, most of us would ask to see their medicine cabinet to check for hallucinogens, because its unheard of. So why is Serena not mentioned amongst the greatest athletes? I’m not talking female athletes, I’m talking the entire sports population. Men are celebrated for mediocrity, so why is it that she is not celebrated heavily, ala Michael Jordan , especially when her dominance is more Michael like than any other male athlete. Maybe Title Nine is mere window dressing for a male locker room to coverup the “Only Men Allowed Beyond This Point” sign hanging over the entrance. Perhaps the industry, much like tennis, needs a line judge, because this ball has sailed way out of bounds and we are in desperate need of a tie breaker. Serena Williams is a once in a lifetime athlete who deserves more than financial rewards for her accomplishments. She deserves recognition and the accolades equivalent that of her championship peers and not to that of her gender. #17 and counting

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