By MATTHEW POWELL
Over the weekend, Serena Williams faced Naomi Osaka in the final of the Women’s U.S. Open. Usually, after such big tennis matches, the main stories are about the quality of the tennis within the match. In this case, however, Serena made sure the headlines would be much, much different.
Although much has been made about Serena’s childish actions and behavior that resulted her in being penalized a game in the match’s final set, I’d like to discuss how ESPN handled the controversy that ensued on their broadcast.
ESPN has the best tennis broadcasting crew in the game, hands down. It offers quality insight and great play by play commentary followed by interesting analytics. When Serena’s incident began to play out, ESPN clarified the rules extremely well, were objective in their commentary, and also picked up every word that was said by Williams. The team’s coverage of the incident itself, quite frankly, was great.
Where ESPN failed was in there post-match coverage. At the trophy ceremony, they constantly referred to the incident itself rather than shine the light on Naomi Osaka’s (20 years old) absurdly good performance against the game’s greatest player. Naomi Osaka played the match of her life and felt the need to apologize in the post game interview because people didn’t get the outcome they wanted.
Although I understand why ESPN found the need to carve the narrative around what would get more clicks and headlines, the network failed to shine the light on the proper person and the proper story.