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A press conference full of grace or palaver from a Pulitzer winner?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I've read some Sarah Kaufman before. She's a good writer and a thoughtful person.

    She believes this 3-minute press conference from Serena Williams was a masterwork of elegance:

    From the piece:

    In sports, defeat is synonymous with struggle and pain.

    But Serena Williams is having none of that. She has risen–serenely, you might say–above the mess. In Friday’s press conference following her loss in the U.S. Open semifinals, the one that ended her hopes for a tennis Grand Slam, Williams drew a line around what was too complicated to discuss and she put it off limits. Good for her.

    “I don’t want to talk about how disappointing it is for me,” she said after being asked how disappointing it was for her. She dismissed the question with a quick wave of her hand. Small as it was, the gesture halted any further efforts to probe a deeply personal raw spot.

    Then she praised her opponent, the unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci, and called her “inspiring.”

    It was all pretty breathtaking, what Williams did, displaying clarity, elegance and generosity in a span of 30 seconds. It was a quiet, impromptu moment of grace. It was not a picture of catastrophe.
    Is Kaufman right?

    Or has she set a low bar for what constitutes in grace for a celebrity in sports?

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
  2. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I took it as Serena being her often-rude-to-reporters self again, and setting her own agenda as she usually does. She was snippy and snappy at reporters throughout much of the U.S. Open, letting them know, openly and dismissively, how she didn't want to be in press conferences or answer their dumb, repetitive questions.

    She just gave Vinci her deserved due, but Williams is often far from a picture of grace.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    That press conference was anything but elegant. At best, Serena is tolerant of everyone / everything around her. ... when things are going her way.

    That was demonstration of how graceless she can be when things don't go her way.

    She lost. She was disappointed. I am NOT criticizing her for acting disappointed when I say she often has little grace. Having graciousness in defeat is difficult for a lot of competitive people, and it just doesn't come naturally to some -- especially at a moment of disappointment that momentous.

    That's fine.

    But let's not pretend that she is / was something she isn't / wasn't.

    It should just be left at: 1) She is an all-time great player. 2) At that particular moment, after a loss that hard, she obviously didn't particularly want to be there and she showed it. 3) Even under better circumstances, her attitude, body language, behavior, etc. often suggest she doesn't have a lot of patience or a personality to deal well with the outside obligations that come with what she does on the court.
  4. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I'll add one more question: If you don't agree with Kaufman, what in the world was she thinking?

    Is this just naivete about how sports works?

    In some performing arts, there is, I dunno, some leftover awe for the "star's reserve" - a performer's impenetrable wall, steeliness read as poise. I don't read Serena that way, but I suppose someone could.

    When Serena says "I told you guys I don't feel pressure," that's the eye-roller moment. Oh, OK. Well, have a good weekend! See you in Australia next year! If you decide to play it!
  5. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Palaver? What's with the big words?
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    At the bottom of the story is the author's bio, noting she wrote a book about to come out called "The Art of Grace." If there's a chapter in there about Serena dealing with defeat, it'll be a lousy book.
  7. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    I watched the press conference. It was about as mundane and pointless as most press conferences are.

    That piece, as well as the Q&A session that inspired it, hit on just about every sports cliche there is, though, so that's something, I guess.
  8. JC

    JC Well-Known Member

    She should have borrowed Steph Curry's kid.
  9. ringer

    ringer Member

    Nope, it wasn't graceful.
    Serena didn't stick around for very many other questions and gave 1-2 word answers to many of those.
    That's not grace. It's petulance.
    I don't know the writer, but I immediately sense that she hasn't covered Serena for very long (especially after defeat) or sports in general.
  10. gravehunter

    gravehunter Member

    My initial impression is that the writer is a big fan of Serena and was determined to write a fluff piece about how much of a hero Serena is...regardless of the outcome.
  11. britwrit

    britwrit Well-Known Member

    Her bio says:

    Sometimes, even the best writers have a drum they'll keep thumping no matter how well the story fits.
  12. SportsGuyBCK

    SportsGuyBCK Active Member

    Palaver ... pure palaver ... turn your Pulitzer medal in ...
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