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#pounditMonday, October 2, 2023

Reporter takes heat for Serena Williams video description

Serena Williams finger wag

Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg was at the center of a controversy on Saturday after he received backlash for his description of an exchange Serena Williams had with a different reporter on Thursday at Indian Wells.

Williams on Thursday made her return to the court for the first time since giving birth to her daughter in January and won her match. Afterwards, she was faced with a question about her use of prednisolone — a banned substance — during the 2015 French Open. Williams received a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the substance because she was sick.

The question seemed to catch Williams off guard and led to a tense situation. Here’s video:

Rothenberg, a tennis reporter who freelances for the New York Times, was not in Indian Wells, but he tweeted on Friday that he was surprised the “heated exchange” between Williams and the reporter did not receive more attention.

Many people disputed Rothenberg’s description of the matter as “heated.” Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, responded and said Serena was “cool, calm, and collected.”

Rothenberg acknowledged his description was wrong and said “intense” would have been a better word.

Former world No. 1 men’s player Andy Roddick, a longtime friend of Williams, also challenged Rothenberg.

Rothenberg then defended himself and said he wasn’t saying Williams had reacted poorly, but merely that the exchange was intense.

Rothenberg’s “heated exchange” description may have been slightly off, but not by much. The exchange certainly was tense. And nowhere in his tweet did he say Williams reacted poorly. All he said was that he was surprised the matter didn’t receive more attention, which is a fair comment.

Williams is used to dealing with far worse though, so she probably just brushed this matter aside.


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