The U.S. Open Ladies’ Final Was an Indictment of the U.S. Itself

I kept predicting there was not going to the be a U.S. Open.

Miss Cleo, I am not, and I’m glad for it. The 2020 U.S. Open built a bubble, and it worked for the players and for the viewers because we got live tennis, my favorite sportsball. My next door neighbor asked me — through his open window — when tennis would be over because all my screaming and clapping was working his nerves. It’s over, Steve. It’s over.

With no crowds, the 2020 Open was weird, but it was still very familiar. McEnroe was a dismissive dick to non-seeded players in the opening rounds. AmEx commercial got on my damn nerves. The New York Times’ Christopher Clarey was a hateful troll to Serena and gay players. The ladies’ matches were far more interesting than anything the men put out there. Having trouble sleeping? Instead of melatonin, try watching a replay of Zverev vs Coric in the quarterfinals.

Sports Illustrated Jon Wertheim always gives his fifty parting thoughts after each major, but I’m a single, working mom and school starts tomorrow. (PRAYERS ACCEPTED!) Plus, I’m writing this before the men’s final has even begun, and I don’t care who wins as long as it’s not Zverev. So in the essence of time — and the fact I am way behind on the Real Housewives of Potomac — I’ll give you my five parting thoughts:

Did Alex de Minaur win in the Quarters? Nein.

When your “accidental Hitler” mustache makes it through seven days of coverage, it no longer feels accidental. De Minaur’s sponsors or someone on his team must have relayed that his look was not a good one. And yet, the Fascist Chaplin remained. It made it very easy to pull against de Minaur. ESPN commentators like McEnroe or Chris Fowler were giggling about the bad flavor saver but never came out and said what it actually evokes — the Führer. It shows that, most of the time, white men are useless.

Roger talks healthcare

Each night, the USTA virtually connected a front-line healthcare worker with a tennis player, in a tribute to essential workers of the global pandemic. During the ladies’ final, we had Roger Federer speaking to an Aussie nurse, who said that in her country, public healthcare is very well funded. It was a kick-in-the-gut reminder, that in the U.S., it is not. See also, our current COVID death rates

I bought a dress

I haven’t bought new clothes in a while because wherethefuck am I going? But I fell in love with the Asics kit worn by Jen Brady. If you have ever been in my kitchen, you know I am obsessed with Howard Johnson chic, and I took the turquoise and orange as a sign from the universe to buy the dress. So I did.

Mom, Mommy, Mama, Mother

I tweeted about this during the tournament but it bears repeating. Every time I see Serena’s migraine ad, I remember how hard it is to play tennis as a woman. Period migraines, bloating, tits that grow 3 cups sizes, diarrhea (oh yes), heavy flow, cramps, changing iron levels. . . .

And then we have ESPN commentators talking ad nauseam about how Vika, Serena, Kim, and Tsvetana are all moms. They are “mothers of (insert baby name),” and that is as far as the analysis went. No deep dive into what growing a baby and giving birth does to the body. Nothing on the added emotional labor of being a mom and expectations that exist for women and not fathers. It was lazy and reductive.

We should also mention that the United States, home of the U.S. Open, does not offer paid maternal or family leave for its citizens. Look at that eagle soar!

Naomi fighting against Social Injustice

“Naomi, perhaps more than your tennis, your activism has received worldwide attention. What has been most gratifying for you as you raise awareness for social injustice?” -Mary Jo Fernandez, ESPN commentator.

I’m not picking on Mary Jo. Every ESPN personality with a mask and a mic used this phrase each time they interviewed Osaka.

Social injustice, is that what we are calling it? While the U.S. Open itself did not shy away from #BLM, ESPN execs must have sent a memo saying to not go near it. “Don’t say systemic racism.” “Don’t say cops killing black people.” “Don’t say cops are indifferent to black lives.” “Never say Black Lives Matter.” I’m sure it kept the white tennis viewers in the suburbs of Atlanta happy.

In the end, Naomi won, in a hard-fought, three-set final against Vika. Naomi brought with her seven masks for seven matches, with the names of seven black Americans killed by law enforcement. She got to wear each one. The real tragedy is that she could make a mask and wear one to every tournament for the next three years and still not get through all the names. Nothing says America like a night session in Queens, and nothing says America like systemic racism whose reckoning is long overdue.

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