In the wake of the twelve-car pile up that was the women’s U.S. Open final, institutions at all levels of tennis will be taking a good hard look at their rules and practices, and no doubt changes will be made. But from my perspective, the first change that needs to happen is a no brainer.
Patrick Mouratoglou needs to go.
No one tells Serena what to do, and I’m not addressing her here. But for the benefit of the rest of us, here’s my case against Patrick Mouratoglou.
This tweet drove me nuts from the moment I read it. As I’ve written before on this blog, nobody knows if a birth will be a joyous event or result in death. Patrick no doubt did not know, but Serena would be fighting for her life over the next week. And yet he had to remind her at the moment of her daughter’s birth that “we” (inserting himself) were a priority. Get off that hospital bed, lady, and start hitting forehands!
AND he spilled the beans of the birth before Ohanian and Williams had confirmed the news, robbing them of their chance to announce their daughter to the world. Letting everyone know that baby and wife are fine is traditionally the role for the husband and father. That would be Ohanian’s role, which Patrick seems to want to limit as much as possible, if not usurp.
He told her to stop breastfeeding. Apparently Serena wasn’t happy about it. Yet Patrick whinged that Serena was now making decisions through the lens of family rather than the lens of tennis. Who the hell says such things like they’re a bad thing? But Patrick felt upstaged. And he really wanted that stage back, which brings us to the kicker,
He not only coached, he admitted it:
Look it’s fine if you want to say you were in the wrong. But the way Patrick tried to divert attention away from himself, by maintaining he was a regular practitioner of coaching from the stands just like everyone else, directly contradicted Serena, and contradicted her on the very hill she was apparently willing to die on–that she does not cheat. He implied that she does, and that she does it regularly, because everyone does.
Whatever Patrick has brought to Serena and her game over the years, the downsides of his presence now clearly outweigh the upsides. His involvement in her family life has reached the level of creepy. He gave her nothing to go into that final with to counter Naomi Osaka’s game. But most importantly, he implicated her as a cheat to save his own skin. It would send a good message to her supporters if Serena let him go for that alone.