Tennis player Eugenie Bouchard hit the courts today to talk about Maria Sharapova being a cheater and that she shouldn’t be allowed to play tennis again. Oh, Ms. Bouchard… I don’t say this often because to me it’s chastising someone for their age, which is unfair because it’s something they can’t control, but you are being a child.
I know that right now, since you have the ear and eye of the media, you think it’s fashionable to express contentious re-tweetable statements, and think that you have the right to make analytic assessments about the state of tennis having spent a whopping four years on the pro tour. PR people have no doubt told you, as all celebrity athletes are told, that any camera in front of you is better than no camera which is what you were beginning to achieve through your lacklustre play this past year. You clearly haven’t looked into or read the freely available and incorrect ruling on Maria Sharapova or the reversal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that found Sharapova “could not be considered to be an intentional doper” demonstrating “less than significant fault”.
But none of that is what makes you a child. Your statement is, after all, just an opinion. What makes you a child, is the inability to consider the long term effects that your statement might have for you in your career in the very, very small and tight knit tennis community with promoters, and sponsors, and organisers, because the press you’re getting today, a month before the French Open (what a coincidence), is more valuable to you.
I’ll quote one of my favourite playwrites, David Mamet, who’s economy of language puts all this into words far better than me:
“You wanna learn the first rule you’d know if you ever spent a day in your life? You never open your mouth until you know what the shot is.”