Two Christian broadcasters from the sports arena are weighing in on Serena Williams' temper tantrum last Saturday during the finals of the U.S. Open.
Already down a set, it fell apart for the seven-time Wimbledon women's singles champ when the umpire gave a warning, believing her coach was giving her instructions from the stands. Williams, the winner of 23 grand slam titles in all, would later lose a point for smashing her racquet. Then she topped it off by berating the umpire about being treated unfairly. It resulted in Williams being docked a game – and her opponent, Naomi Osaka, eventually cruised to victory.
OneNewsNow talked to David Wheaton, a former pro tennis player-turned Christian apologist, about lessons to be learned from the incident. Wheaton, who played professionally on the tour for 13 years, is host of The Christian Worldview program. He acknowledges that Williams is a great champion and one of the most accomplished female athletes – but that she let her emotions overtake her as she threw a tantrum at the U.S. Open finals.
Wheaton says while listening to what he describes as "blame-shifting" during post-match explanations, it felt like he was listening in on the Garden of Eden.
"The coach was asked whether he coached [from the stands] and he said, 'Yeah, I did coach,'" Wheaton recalls. "So in other words, he was just admitting he was breaking the rules, he was cheating. But he said 'But everyone does it.' In other words, Okay, no big deal – everyone does this, so therefore ....
"And then Serena implicitly [admitted] she abused the umpire [during the match], but [then argued that] the men do it worse and they don't get penalized for it, so therefore ...."
Wheaton suggests that instead of "blame-shifting," people just need to start taking responsibility for their own actions.
Bryce Johnson, president and founder of UNPACKIN' it Ministries, also weighed in on the matter in one of his recent commentaries on issues in the sports world. Like Wheaton, he argues that "misguided emotions" got the best of everyone involved – but that it can happen to anyone.
"We can all allow the stresses of work to cause negative responses at home – or vice versa," Johnson writes. "When we take our anger from something else and direct it toward the wrong person, the negative emotion can cost us 'a point' or even 'a game' if we allow it to."
He cites Proverbs 16:32 and James 1:19-20 as scriptures that can encourage believers as they deal with self-control.
"Having self-control prevents us from losing it, but we can't attain that in our own power," he concludes. "As followers of Jesus, we must rely on God's Holy Spirit within us to help us overcome our anger and frustration."
Johnson hosts a weekly radio program that recently debuted on the Sports Byline USA network.