August 23, 2011
Irrational commitment to an arbitrary policy defeated common sense on Tuesday when the USTA announced it wouldn't change Serena Williams' seed at the upcoming U.S. Open despite the fact that the three-time champion is the prohibitive favorite to hoist the trophy Sept. 10.
We saw this coming and ranted plenty about it Monday. Click the link to read our thoughts on why it's spineless for the USTA not to make Serena a top seed at the tournament. Read below for some more thoughts.
To recap: Williams returned to tennis in June after missing 11 months while recovering from multiple injuries. After falling from No. 1 following the injury, Serena bottomed out at No. 179 in the rankings. She found her legs in her first two tournaments and then won the next two in which she played, raising her ranking to No. 29 in a span of five weeks.
[Related: See photos of Serena Williams]
USTA officials were doubtlessly pleased that she made it into the top 32 because it got them out of having to decide whether to seed Serena at all. Now all officials had to do was discuss whether it made sense to move up Serena in the seedings. It seemed like a no-brainer. She was the best tennis player in the world when she got hurt and she's showed that she still has that talent upon her return. With the injury to Kim Clijsters vacating the No. 3 seed, it was an easy call, right?
Nope. Instead of moving Serena, the USTA hid behind its own, easily changed policy.
"After careful deliberation regarding Serena Williams' seeding, we decided to maintain the objective criteria in place to determine the women's singles seeds at this year's U.S. Open," said Jim Curley, U.S. Open tournament director and chief professional tournaments officer.
The objective criteria? THE OBJECTIVE CRITERIA? The WTA rankings are the opposite of objective! They're based on weighted number values assigned to making different stages of tiered tournaments. The WTA rankings are the definition of subjective. Just because they have order and clarity doesn't make that any less true.
Why is making a Grand Slam semifinal 900 points but winning a top-tier tournament is only worth 1,000? Why does winning a quarterfinal match in Doha carry the same weight as winning a third-round match in Cincinnati? These are not the questions of which objectivity is made.
Who benefits from all this alleged objectivity anyway? Certainly not the fans, who may see Serena play Maria Sharapova in the third round instead of the finals. It's not the players; just ask whichever seed has to see Ms. Williams before Labor Day.
Then again, maybe the USTA knows something we don't. Perhaps the draw will look very convenient when it comes out on Thursday, wink, wink.
Meanwhile, if you think the decision to leave Serena at No. 28 wasn't influenced in some part by this, then there's a bridge a few miles west of the U.S. Open that I'd like to sell you.
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