Justice

Andy Roddick Defended Serena Williams Perfectly

September 3rd 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

Retired tennis player Andy Roddick has been pals with Wimbledon champion Serena Williams since childhood and hopes she snags all four Grand Slam titles this year. The winner of the 2003 U.S. Open, Roddick has made headlines in the tennis world before, sometimes for having a short fuse, but he thinks Williams has gotten more of an unfair representation than he has despite his well-publicized history of bad behavior on the court.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Roddick said he has known Williams since they were 8 years old and that it's wonderful to see her "become just this complete icon and the best female athlete of all time" with the support of "an entire country." That said, he noted that she has received more flak than he ever did for demonstrating outrage during heated tennis matches.

"We threw lots of fits on the court," he told the publication. "I was a [jerk] a lot of the time, and I didn’t get a quarter of the criticism that she ever got. To see her at this moment, and on the precipice of doing something great, and that will be remembered forever, it’s just so cool. I’m so happy for her, and I hope she does it.”

Andy Roddick's hot-headed reputation in tennis

While Roddick had a successful career as a tennis player, he was known for having a bit of a temper during matches. At the 2011 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, he received a point penalty for aggressively whacking a ball into the stands. During that same match, he received a warning for throwing his racquet on the court.

“It’s so frustrating,” Roddick said. “I certainly accept what I did. I put [the chair umpire] in a bad situation out there, but I do think it’s stupid in tennis that—I mean, in football if someone throws a helmet on the sideline, it’s their helmet. We wonder where we lose our ratings battles to the WWF, Monday Night Raw.”

Earlier this year, Roddick went on FOX Sports Live to read a tongue-in-cheek apology letter to chair umpires to whom he'd been disrespectful to over the years:

Roddick's comments on Williams come shortly after she made a powerful statement about the fact that fellow tennis player Maria Sharapova was recently ranked as a more marketable sports star on a London School of Marketing list and makes double in endorsements and appearances as Williams does.

Serena Williams' endorsement gap

Many have wondered why Williams earns less in endorsements and less overall than fellow tennis player Maria Sharapova despite that Williams is considered the world’s best tennis player. Williams, who has beaten Sharapova on more than a dozen occasions, finally opened up about the endorsement gap in a new interview with the New York Times. In 2014, Williams earned $11 million in endorsements while Sharapova took home $22 million.

‘‘If they want to market someone who is white and blond, that’s their choice," Williams said. "I have a lot of partners who are very happy to work with me. I can’t sit here and say I should be higher on the list because I have won more. I’m happy for [Sharapova], because she worked hard, too. There is enough at the table for everyone."

Chris Evert, a former top female tennis player, made similar remarks to The Times about the physical appearance corporations expect in endorsement partners.

"I think the corporate world still loves the good-looking blond girls," Evert, a blond-haired woman herself, told the publication. ‘‘Maria was very aware of business and becoming a businesswoman at a much younger stage. She works hard.’’

Despite her marketability ranking, Williams said she keeps the focus on paving the way for fellow Black tennis players. She cited sister and fellow tennis player Venus Williams as an inspiration and acknowledged that maybe she is destined to open doors for Black female tennis players as well.

"We have to be thankful, and we also have to be positive about it so the next black person can be No. 1 on that list,’’ she told The Times. ‘‘Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door. Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Venus opened so many doors for me. I’m just opening the next door for the next person.’’

Serena Williams' recent response to body shamers

Last month, many were angry about the language used to describe Williams' body in a Times article written by Ben Rothernberg. Some argued the piece was racially charged and mocked her appearance.

Anchor Julie DiCaro drew further discussion about the Williams article, stating that no one else seemed to be talking about the appearances of male tennis champions in print:

In a new interview with "Good Morning America," Williams said winning the Grand Slam at the U.S. Open was more important to her than responding to haters and body shamers:

 

"It's me, and I love me," she said. "I've learned to love me. I've been like this my whole life and I embrace me. I love how I look. I am a full woman and I'm strong, and I'm powerful, and I'm beautiful at the same time. I don't have time to be brought down, I've got too many things to do. I have Grand Slams to win, I have people to inspire, and that's what I'm here for."