Thursday, June 02, 2005

Who's a drama queen now?

French Open finalist and past champion Mary Pierce is known as something of a diva. She has her own private room off the locker room at Roland Garros. She takes so long to prepare for her serve that you can make a snack and pour a drink and not miss anything. (At the 1995 Australian Open, Pierce was given a time violation warning as she served championship point.) French Open rules state that each player has 25 seconds to prepare for service, but officials ignore the rules more often than not, in both the men's and women's matches.

The only player to complain about Pierce's delays in this tournament has been outspoken Patty Schnyder, and she didn't complain until the match was over. This morning, before Pierce's semifinal match against Elena Likhovtseva, the ESPN commentators discussed the fact that Pierce is a bit of a drama queen, and showed videos of her elaborate service preparation. At one point in the match, commentator Mary Carillo, who livens up every match with her humor, took out a stopwatch and timed Pierce, and the delay lasted forty-one seconds. What followed was a lot of silliness in which each commentator's interview was timed.

The joke went sour, however, when commentator Pam Shriver turned Pierce in for time violations. She went to the umpires' office to ask them what they were doing about Pierce's delays.

The umpires should have been dealing with the delays, not only by Pierce, but by others. If you fail to enforce one rule in sports, then you lose credibility when you enforce others. Pierce's opponents chose not to complain, but the umpires should have acted on their own. But to have a commentator leave her post and complain about a player's rule violation is unheard of, and way out of line.

That wasn't the end of it. After the match, Shriver interviewed Carlos Rodriguez, who coaches the other finalist, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and advised him to advise Henin-Hardenne to go to the umpire and make sure s/he didn't allow Pierce to delay her serves.


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