Remember that time at the 2009 U.S. Open, when Serena Williams told a line judge she was going to shove a tennis ball down her throat? Of course you do. Everyone remembers. Except for Serena.
Today, Williams returned to Flushing Meadows to play in the US Open for the first time since '09, when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the semifinals and was eventually fined $82,500. Naturally, a reporter wanted to know if she'd reflected upon that outburst upon her return. First, she pretended to need a reminder ("You mean in the singles or doubles?"); then she got characteristically glib:
Serena: I don't know, I just remember I lost, and that was that. And then, I got really popular; a lot of people were telling me, 'Oh, it was super cool," [laughs] and that they'd never seen me so intense. So, yeah, it was awesome.
Reporter: Did you learn anything from that episode, and if so, what did you learn?
Serena: Um, I don't know, I don't think about it. Are you still thinking about it? Oh my god, that was like, two years ago. This is like, two years later.
Depending on your view of Serena, this kind of reaction either infuriates you or fills you with glee. SI's Jon Wertheim dealt with this very incongruity in his mailbag last week, and he explained it better than anyone:
So I think we just resign ourselves to this: Serena is not Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. She's doesn't hold the sport's institution in high regard. She either doesn't have a knack for p.r., she's indifferent to perception or she gets some of the worst advice in the history of celebrity. There will seldom be an absence of drama, whether that's threatening linespeople, bailing out of a Fed Cup commitment citing "exhaustion" but then showing up in Europe that week to promote her book, or declining to hit balls into the stands. Yet—and this what I can't overlook—when she does compete, you get an honest effort, a relentless competitor, a peerless athlete. Especially when the rest of the field is more volatile than the S&P 500. I think you have to pick a side and live with the consequences. You either get a champion who may disappoint with her playing schedule and breaches of decorum, or you get a player you can dislike personally who is impossible not to admire when the ball is in play.
Hopefully this year, we get the champion. The one from, like, a year ago.
Serena Williams hasn't dwelled on '09 tirade [AP]