The tennis star's sudden outburst in a match against her good friend surprised fans. Here's what you can learn from her reaction.
From customer service calls to delayed subways, some situations seem designed to test our patience—and we’ll admit, there are times when we've lost our cool. So while we can hardly imagine the stress of playing in the finals of an international tennis tournament, the sight of Serena Williams demolishing her tennis racket during a match against Caroline Wozniacki caught us off guard.
Down 2 to 4 in the first set, the world’s No. 1 seed slammed her racket on the ground three times, breaking the strings and smashing the frame. (Check out the video below.) In the end, Williams went on to win over Wozniacki, who's also one of her best friends—they even saw a Mariah Carey concert the night before their match!
While this isn’t the first outburst from the tennis star—she’s gotten in heated arguments with line judges and umpires in the past—this jarring display of poor sportsmanship surprised the crowd and spread like wildfire on social media. And Williams’ post-match reaction was not exactly apologetic: “I don’t know how many times I hit it but, boy, that racket will never do me wrong again. It was definitely legendary. I kind of lost my cool a little bit,” she said in a press conference. "I'm not proud of it," she added with a sly chuckle that makes us think she probably is. Williams did receive an official warning from the umpire, but she didn't incur any additional penalty.
There is certainly an element of showmanship to the sport (think John McEnroe), but the deeper problem here, according to etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley, is that this kind of behavior sets a poor example for young athletes who look up to her. "It may be all fun and games for Serena, who makes enough to buy a new racket, but I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to think they can destroy a racket like that," Farley says.
Farley's professional take on the situation: Williams could have addressed the slipup in a different way in the post-match press conference. "Rather than boast about it and make a joke about it, she could have apologized, moved on, and simply embraced the victory she wound up achieving," Farley says.
To make sure this doesn't affact her friendship with Wozniacki, Farley has some words of wisdom for Williams. "It's important to leave your anger on the court, field, or golf course," he says. "If you find yourself losing your temper in a game, speak to your friend afterwards, say sorry for getting so caught up, and have a good laugh about it. Don't be boastful about your victory, and don't be bitter about your defeat—it's only a game." For us, anyway.