"Mummy! The big mean boys are picking on me again!!!"

An 18-time tennis Grand Slam champion- no, not the really great one, the other one- takes exception to the comments by the head of the Russian Tennis Federation about her and her sister:
Shamil Tarpischev was also fined $25,000 for making the comments on Russian television. He also said the sisters were ''scary'' to look at. 
''I think the WTA did a great job of taking (the) initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,'' Williams said Sunday in Singapore ahead of her WTA Finals defense. ''I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying. '' 
Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press on Saturday at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was ''a humorous show.'' When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: ''I can't comment. I don't understand it.'' 
In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any ''malicious intent'' and said his quotes had been taken out of context. 
The WTA said it would seek his removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament, which ends Sunday. 
Russia's Maria Sharapova, also in Singapore for the WTA Finals, condemned her compatriot's comments. 
''I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I'm glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee,'' she said. 
Tarpischev has been chairman of the Kremlin Cup, Russia's only WTA event, for all of its 18 years as a women's tour event, and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. During the 1990s, he was the personal tennis coach to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and served as his adviser on sports matters. 
He made his comments during an appearance on a Russian talk show this month alongside former Olympic singles champion Elena Dementieva. When Dementieva was asked what it was like playing against the Williams sisters, Tarpischev interjected and called them the ''Williams brothers.'' He also said that ''it's scary when you really look at them.''

Williams, the world number 1 at the age of 33, is going into the WTA Finals on the back of another stellar year, winning six titles including the US Open. But she pulled out of the China Open earlier this month with a knee injury, triggering some concerns she might not make the Singapore.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sound demonstration in the difference in the way that men and women deal with snide comments.

A man- one with actual genitalia, anyway- would deal with these comments by taking a page from the Vox Day school of dealing with idiots and either ignore them, or cordially invite them to an MMA cage match. (I wish I could find the link to that post- it had something to do with that whole JournoList thing a few years back.)

A woman, or an effeminate and weak man, deals with asinine comments by running to the nearest organisation that polices such things and begs them to censor such criticisms.

Now, let me say at this point that personally, I DO NOT like Serena Williams's playing style. There is no finesse or grace about it. She grunts- roars, really- whenever she hits the ball, and if you've ever had to listen to a women's tennis match in the last, oh, 15 years, you'll know what I mean when I say that you cannot watch it with the volume up. If you do, your neighbours will be asking some very awkward questions about your sexual proclivities. And a lot of that is because of Serena Williams and Maria Shrieka Sharapova.

And her sister, Venus, isn't very much better- other than the fact that she hasn't won nearly as many titles, of course.

But calling them "brothers" is a bit beyond the pale- though not, however, for the reasons you might be thinking. I don't care whether or not it's sexist or racist or whatever-ist to call the Williams sisters "brothers"- I do care whether or not these two could actually hold their own against men, and thereby merit comparison with men.

And on that subject, the answer is a clear and resounding NO.

You see, early on in their careers as tennis players, the Williams sisters claimed that they could beat any man ranked as low as 200 in the world. A bloke ranked at 203 at the time decided to take them on. He took the challenge as a bit of larf... which is why he showed up to the match having played a round of golf, and drunk a few drinks.

He proceeded to beat Serena Williams 6-1.

And that was after he took roughly 50% off his first serve. Remember, this is a guy ranked at below 200 in the world.

He then beat Venus Williams- who if I remember from back then was actually the better player of the two sisters at the time- 6-2.

(I'm not making up one word of this. It is all absolutely true.)

Now, admittedly, neither woman was really trying. It was all a bit of a giggle. But in reality, if the Williams sisters ever tried to take on, say, Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer, or- saints preserve them- Rafael Nadal, they'd be destroyed. Game, set, and match. Personally, I think this would happen against almost any man in the top 50 in current men's tennis.

So, yes, it's certainly a bit ridiculous to call those two the Williams "brothers"- because to do so requires that they be held up to a male standard of performance, and that's one that they cannot match.

It's very difficult to take the Williams sisters seriously as "exemplars" of women's tennis when, every time some bloke with more mouth than sense decides to criticise their (admittedly annoying) playing styles, they run to the nearest governing body with a complaint. If you're going to be the best player in the world in tennis, and you're going to do it with a game that is as physical and, frankly, as lacking in finesse and artistry as that of the Williams sisters, then don't be surprised if people criticise you for it.

The Williams sisters should have reacted to this bit of silliness with simple class- shrug it off, get on with life, and silence critics by simply being the best at what they do. Instead, Serena decided to make a mountain out of a molehill, and diminished herself and her sister in the process.


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