You can not be serious: Serena, McEnroe double standard

Still making a fortune doing commercials flaunting his temper, John McEnroe was fined a whopping $19,000.00 for his bad temper on the tennis courts – swearing at players, judges and others. While World number one Serena Williams has been fined $175,000 and put on probation for two years for one foul-mouthed tirade at the U.S. Open.”

Ms. Williams’s outburst in the US Open semi-finals against Kim Clijsters over a “foot-fault.” Although Serina  won the match, her “expletive-laced rant” against the lineswoman’s call is the memory we remember. The outburst, which culminated with the tennis star clenching her fist and threatening to “shove it down” the judge’s throat, showed America that competitive women can have an another temperment too.

Ms. Williams admits to “handling the situation poorly.” Do men, more than women, get away with such behavior? I thought superstars of any sex got away with a lot but it seems that sex is still the dividing line here too. I do not condone her behavior – nor would Icondone it for either men or women.   It’s clear Williams is “not getting away” with anything considering that substantial fine. But are men more likely to be publically forgiven for such nasty episodes more so than women? Look at the evidence I collected on McEnroe. Seems – we still allow men more latitude. I am also sure I don’t want to see Serina making temper tantrum commercials any more than I enjoy Johns but he is being paid to rant and rave isn’t he?

 What do you think? Are women treated the same as men when it comes to public rants and raves?

In 1980, McEnroe reached the men’s singles final at Wimbledon for the first time, where he faced Björn Borg, who was gunning for his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title. At the start of the final, McEnroe was booed by the crowd as he entered Centre Court following heated exchanges with officials during his semifinal victory over Jimmy Connors.

McEnroe exacted revenge two months later, beating Borg in the five-set final of the 1980 US Open.

Controversy dogged McEnroe when he returned to Wimbledon in 1981. Following his first-round match against Tom Gullikson, McEnroe was fined U.S. $1,500 and came close to being thrown out of the championships after he called umpire Ted James
“the pits of the world” and then swore at tournament referee
Fred Hoyles
He also made famous the phrase “you cannot be serious”,
which years later would become the title of McEnroe’s autobiography, by shouting it after several umpires’ calls during his matches.

McEnroe’s 1984 season did not end without controversy. While playing and winning the tournament in Stockholm, McEnroe had an on-court outburst that became notorious in sports highlight reels. After questioning a call made by the chair umpire, McEnroe demanded, “Answer my question, jerk!” McEnroe then slammed his racquet into a juice cart beside the court.

Nike co-founder Phil Knight discovered McEnroe in 1978 and tapped him for the “Rebel With a Cause” ad campaign.

By 1986, the pressures of playing at the top had become too much for McEnroe to handle and he took a six-month break from the tour. When he returned to the tour later in 1986, he won three titles. He took a seven-month break from the game following the US Open, where he was suspended for two months and fined US$17,500 for misconduct and verbal abuse.

Pop-culture appearances

  • McEnroe’s fiery temper has got him featured in fields other than tennis on more than one occasion. In 1982, on the tail of his final victory against Borg, British impressionist Roger Kitter made a record called Chalk Dust: The Umpire Strikes Back in which he played a parody of McEnroe losing his temper with an umpire during a match. The record was made under the nomenclature “The Brat” and reached the UK Top 20; by this time the British tabloids had dubbed him “SuperBrat”.
  • He is also imitated and referenced on Dionysos‘ album Western sous la neige which features multiple tracks that talk about writing in the blood of bad referees.
  • His random bursts of rage were parodied in the satirical British programme ‘Spitting Image‘, where he and wife Tatum frequently screamed and threw things at each other. He was also lampooned in the Australian The Paul Hogan Show, in which Paul Hogan played “John MacEnhoax” who used a handshake to fling his opponent, destroying a tennis court.
  • At the height of his career, NBC-TV’s tennis coverage included a piece with clips of his many on-court tantrums, underscored by the Men at Work hit song, Be Good Johnny.
  • McEnroe has also been given roles in TV and film where he playfully acknowledges his well-known belligerence such as in his appearance in a 2005 car commercial for the SEAT Altea where he angrily shouts his trademark “Clearly inside the line” line at an officer who has ticketed him for parking incorrectly. He also portrays himself in the 2002 film Mr. Deeds where he lauds the title character for getting angry and assaulting an antagonist, and has a scene in the film Anger Management starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler, most of which was cut—leaving only a short shot of him sleeping on the floor of the psychiatrist’s office. The full scene is in the DVD special features.
  • In the Not the Nine O’Clock News, McEnroe is parodied by Griff Rhys Jones with considerable emphasis being placed on his lack of patience, his temper tantrums and his inability to understand that he does anything wrong or any decision that is not in his favour. He is shown arguing with his parents at breakfast over the consistency of his boiled egg, and whether or not he slurped his orange juice.
  • McEnroe was partially the inspiration for the character of Freddie Trumper – the volatile U.S. chess champion – in the musical Chess by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson, and Bjorn Ulveaus.
  • Actor Tom Hulce studied McEnroe’s mood swings for his portrayal of Mozart’s unpredictable genius in Amadeus. Also, Ian McKellen once took some lessons from his behaviour on court for his interpretation of the megalomaniacal Coriolanus.[10]
  • McEnroe appeared in the episodes “The Head and the Hair” and “Gavin Volure” of 30 Rock.
  • FBI agent Larry Connors uses the alias “John McEnroe” in episode 27 of the Japanese-Anime series “Death Note“.
  • McEnroe was mentioned in episode “Columbo Goes to College” of series “Columbo”

[edit] Commercials

  • McEnroe also has appeared in Nike‘s 2006 Pretty tennis commercial with his brother Patrick and tennis star Maria Sharapova. He appeared in another commercial where he taught Pete Sampras how to throw temper tantrums on the court.
  • He appeared on a British advertisement for Tesco, along with Björn Borg, his famous rival, where they compete to collect supermarket items, and Borg eventually finishes with a plate, a play on the trophy of Wimbledon.
  • McEnroe appeared in a Kellogg’s cereal commercial in 2008.
  • McEnroe appeared in a National Car Rental commercial during Fall of 2008. In the commercial, he uses his “You cannot be serious!” catchphrase to express disbelief at the option to “choose any car in the [parking] lot.”
  • Appeared in a Telstra commercial in 2007. [1]
  • McEnroe appeared in a EA Sports commercial for Grand Slam Tennis during 2009.

[edit] Television and film

  • McEnroe appeared on the December 16, 2006, episode of the UK talk show Parkinson.
  • McEnroe, alongside his brother Patrick, co-hosted the WFAN Morning Show (formerly Imus in the Morning) on May 8 and 9, 2007.
  • On May 10, 2007, McEnroe appeared as a murder suspect on an episode of the American CBS television show CSI: NY, uttering a variation of his famous “You cannot be serious!” line.[11]
  • McEnroe appeared as himself in Curb your Enthusiasm Season 6 Episode 5 in which Larry David adopts the role of his limo driver for the day.
  • McEnroe appears as himself in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
  • McEnroe appears as himself in Mr Deeds.
  • McEnroe appears as himself in Anger Management.
  • McEnroe appeared as himself in the “30 Rock” episode “Gavin Volure,” in which he is described as a man excelling in “art collecting and yelling.”
  • McEnroe appeared as himself in Penn & Teller: Bullshit! on Season 7 Episode 9 regarding stress.
  • McEnroe played a caller to Frasier’s radio show in an episode of the sitcom Frasier.
  • McEnroe presented a primetime BBC show in 2002 called, The Chair, in which he asked contestants questions and measured their heart rate as they were asked. The show lasted one series.
  • McEnroe played himself in the 1979 Paramount motion picture Players which starred Ali McGraw and Dean-Paul Martin.
  • Homestar Runner dressed up like him for Halloween
  • On an episode of the tv show Spin City, Press Secretary Paul Lassiter (a self confessed fan of McEnroe) finds a headband that once belonged to McEnroe in a donation box for needy children. He takes it and begins wearing it at all times, and starts taking on many of McEnroe’s traits: becoming more aggressive, confrontational, and louder. In one scene, he and speech writer James get in a heated argument over whether a box was the “ingoing” box or “outgoing” box, a reference to McEnroe arguing about a ball being inside or outside.

[edit] In music

McEnroe’s infamous outburst “You’re the pits of the world” (from a Wimbledon 1st round in 1981, the same incident that produced his “You can not be serious” line) was quoted as the last line of the Pretenders song “Pack It Up”, from their 1981 album Pretenders II


4 Responses

  1. I do not like John McEnroe and have never liked John McEnroe. I always thought Tatum O’Neal probably developed a drug problem just from being married to him. However, I don’t remember his tirades involving threats of bodily harm to anyone. I know this was not a serious threat on Serena’s part (or at least I hope it wasn’t) but this goes far past calling someone names or questioning their intelligence or eyesight. I wish what we would do (and I’m sure my wish will be granted about the same time world peace is achieved) is stop worshiping athletes. Just because someone can hit a ball or catch or throw a ball doesn’t make them a good and decent person that we should be electing to office or buying products based on their endorsement or holding up to children as a role model.

  2. This post has me questioning how incedious sexism can be. I had always looked at McEnroe as a spoiled brat that needed to grow-up. I takes until around age 25 for male’s brains to reach maturity. Apparently, it took him even longer.

    While I agree with Marcy about the threat of bodily harm, I not even really knowing how old Serena was, did not see her tirade as that of a spoiled brat. It is hard for me to admit that I may have bought into a bit of the ‘boys will be boys BS buffeted by the belief that boys take longer to grow up. Both were certainly an embarassment.

  3. I’m not arguing “boys will be boys.” I’m saying that the threat of physical harm to someone, even if unlikely to be actually done, is more serious than throwing a garden variety temper tantrum. I’m old, so I remember that Billie Jean King (who I do like) threw some real doozies, much like McEnroe, and I don’t remember her ever being punished much and I don’t remember her threatening anyone. I just don’t think Serena’s sex has any more to do with this than does her race, and I doubt the validity of equating a fine levied twenty years ago with one handed down this year. Believe it or not, I am a sports fan, but I hate the bad behavior that is seemingly actually encouraged by the media and fans. This will probably end up helping Serena’s career doing ads, not hurt it.

  4. I read back over my post and realize that it is confusing. Perhaps a reflection of my own state of mind about this. I was talking about myself and not you except to agree with you about the threat of physical harm.

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