Tennis legend not buying Serena's 'virus' excuse

Serena Williams blamed her disoriented performance in Tuesday's Wimbledon doubles match on a "bug" and "viral illness." Martina Navratilova isn't buying it.

The nine-time Wimbledon champion gave her thoughts about Serena's odd on-court behavior to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNW.

"I find it distressing. I think virus, whatever they're saying it was, I don't think that was it. I think it's clear that's not the case. I don't know what it is, but I hope Serena will be OK.

Serena was unable to catch, toss or hit a ball in warmups. Then, after a 13-minute medical break before the start of the match, she barely moved during points and hit eight consecutive service faults. She finally retired while she and her sister Venus were down 0-3 in the opening set.

But Navratilova had a more practical problem than just Serena's post-match excuse. Why was she playing in the first place?

"I've never seen anything like it and hopefully never will again. Everybody was put in such a difficult position, including the WTA. It's not right. It defies logic on so many fronts. The coach said he hadn't seen her for two days. He didn't know anything. How can you be a coach and not know anything? That's wrong. And Venus was just kind of there. You don't know what's going on, but virus was not it, that much is clear."

Though the whole situation is baffling, I agree with Navratilova: The biggest question is why doctors, trainers, officials and her sister allowed a clearly compromised Serena Williams to play a single point of that match. This is the argument you hear so much in the NFL concussion debate. Sometimes the decision needs to be taken away from an athlete who isn't in a position to make the proper call for himself or herself.

I'm as skeptical of the official excuse as Navratilova, but disagree with her last thought. Nothing about this is clear. Maybe she had a viral illness. Maybe it was something else. That's why Serena should get the benefit of the doubt, for now. She doesn't owe anyone an explanation, except maybe to her sister and the folks at Wimbledon. But if she refuses to speak about the incident in public and instead relies on Instagram messages and canned soundbites, people are going to be forced to take the Navratilova stance and assume there's something more to the story.


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