Serena Williams is better at tennis than most human beings will ever be at anything, ever. And this year in particular she's been on a tear: After the embarrassment of a first-round knockout at the 2012 French Open, she's racked up 11 titles, including the U.S. Open and the WTA Championships.
It's been an impressive comeback, and likely evidence of superhuman amounts of drive. CNN doesn't seem to see it that way, though. Behold their headline for an interview with Williams's coach, Patrick Mouratoglou: "Down and out in Paris: The man who rescued Serena Williams."
What, did she fall in the Seine or something? Nope, it's just their way way of transforming her accomplishments into the tale of a proud woman brought low, before a well-timed rescue by an obliging knight. From the CNN story:
The indomitable figurehead of women's tennis had been humiliated and cowed — turfed out of the 2012 French Open in the first round by an unheralded and unseeded opponent.... Given all she had achieved, it would have been easy to throw in the towel — but even at her lowest ebb, Serena's desire to clamber back to the top was insatiable.
Hark—the sound of hoofbeats! "She needed help and, while still in Paris, she found it in the shape of coach Patrick Mouratoglou, with whom she has been linked romantically," CNN adds.
There are Harlequin romances in the WalMart checkout line less on-the-nose.
It certainly seems Mouratoglou has been a valuable addition to Williams's team of helpers and handlers. But he spends most of the CNN interview giving Serena the credit: "She's a real champion. It's not about the strokes, it's about what you have inside — and she has something really special inside." And to frame one of the most talented women in tennis as the passive heroine of some Disneyfied fairy tale is insulting—not to mention cliché.
Plus, Think Progress suggests that maybe CNN is confused about who's carrying whom here. They write:
The reality is Mourathoglou struck gold when Serena agreed to take him on. Prior to teaming up with Serena he coached a string of promising but largely anonymous professional players, none of whom ever won a Grand Slam and only one of which — Marcos Baghdatis — ever cracked the top 10 of the world rankings.
Sweet, sweet irony.
Image via AP.