'Hardcourt Confidential' by Patrick McEnroe

My job as a television commentator also seemed an asset. Some of the lifer coaches, especially formerly high-ranked players, are a little out of touch with the game and how it's changed. They're going to impose a dated template, which is fine for some of the foundational stuff, if not good enough to keep pace with change. I'm pretty sure that some of the iconic names in tennis haven't even hit balls with a racquet strung with today's newer polyester strings. But being relatively young and a broadcaster, I'm in touch with the day-to-day changes, issues, and controversies in the game, sometimes in a way that puts me in a conflicted or uncomfortable position, as was the case after the ladies' doubles final of the US Open of 2009.

The 2009 US Open ended with a Monday final because of rain. And anyone who watched the event, or even read about it in the media, knew what happened on Saturday night. Serena Williams, taking umbrage at a foot fault called against her while match point down, went medieval on the foot-fault judge (whose main job is to call the baseline at her end). Serena totally lost her cool and threatened the woman in an expletive-laced tirade. The linesperson followed the rules and reported the menacing abuse to the umpire. The violation called for a point penalty.

The tournament referee, Brian Earley, came on court during the heated discussions that followed Serena's outburst. Serena had already used up her one allotted warning when she smashed her racket up after losing the first set. This next infraction automatically meant a point penalty, ending the match. As big a deal as it was, Earley and the USTA were lucky. I can only imagine how the crowd would have reacted had Serena gone gonzo at 3–all in the third set, long before that highly competitive and entertaining match was close to finished.

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