It took 36 hours, one press conference, two statements and an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, but Serena Williams finally issued a legitimate apology for her tirade in a U.S. Open semifinal match.
Yesterday Serena issued a statement through the USTA that was striking in its stubborness and lack of contrition. Today, before she and her sister Venus were to play in the womens' doubles finals, Serena released a new, real apology:
"I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible - I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA and mostly tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst. I'm a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I'm wrong. I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it's not the way to act -- win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner.
I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result."
That's better. That's the statement Serena should have released yesterday.
Whether she means it or not is irrelevent at this point. It had to be said, if only to appease the masses and stop the hail of criticism being lobbed at her.
For what it's worth, the odds are that Serena doesn't mean it. It's more likely someone (either her handlers, sponsors or USTA bigwigs) got to her and let her know that a sincere-sounding apology was necessary to stem the backlash.
Serena has been defiant about the incident since it happened, even joking about it last night at the MTV Video Music Awards. It certainly doesn't seem like she's sorry for it. Rather, all of her actions and statements indicate that Serena still thinks this is about the atrocious foot fault call instead of her tirade.
Whatever she thinks (and only she can know that), at least Serena had the sense to finally issue a "real" apology. That's a start.
Update: And we're back to square one. After Serena and Venus won the U.S. Open women's doubles title Monday, Serena passed up a chance to apologize in person for Saturday night. Instead she babbled the same nonsense about loving her fans for "understanding".