People love controversy, hype and some drama in their daily dose of lives. And the media strives to give it to them. Insignificant news is often taken by the media, and placed on a silver platter, and sprinkled with gold on it, and then presented to the world with an air of sensationalism, that sells. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise, when players do not trust the media anymore, and shy away from answering questions, or are not open enough to reveal their true opinions. Roger Federer, was one of the more recent players to criticize the media in tennis. Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Fernando Verdasco and a bunch of others have expressed their concerns regarding the manipulation of their words in the media.
Serena Williams’ US Open debacle was a moment to be forgotten in the sport. However, instead of rejoicing and celebrating the young Japanese’s success on the big stage, the media chose to highlight Serena’s meltdown, instead of Osaka’s triumph. “I talked about it, everyone talked about it for months and months and months and it’s best to move on to bigger and better things”, said Serena Williams. Maria Sharapova was another player, who did not appreciate the media coverage on her doping ban. She felt that the media made it look less like a mistake and more like an intentional doping scenario.
Fernando Verdasco’s ball ball incident in 2018, was another incident, that was unnecessarily highlighted, despite Verdasco coming out and informing that his intentions were to speed up the game and not berate the ball-boy. “Obviously I didn’t mean to be like that,’ said Verdasco. “But I think with social media there are certain people who sometimes speak too much”, he said. “I received many messages telling me to apologize, it looks like I did something really wrong to the guy, when it was my way of telling him was that we have 24 seconds (between points)”, he added.
Lately it has been the younger generation, that has been receiving the flack, for not performing up to the standards, or not caring enough about the sport. Novak Djokovic mentioned this in his interview at the ATP World Tour Finals. “I think tennis is in good hands”, said Novak Djokovic. “At the same time I think us older guys, we’re still obviously working hard and working smart and trying to get the most out of what we have in ourselves left.”
“I know you guys(media) might be a little bit rough on them’, said the world number one. “I think there is a lot of quality in the new generation.”
Roger Federer, also spoke about the pressure that the media puts on the players. “I’ve had the feeling tennis journalism is on the negative side”, said Roger Federer in his interview for the Swiss Channel SRF, pointing out that instead of praising a player for their achievements, the media chose to focus on the mistakes and errors, and showcased them to the world. “In golf, it’s very positive with ‘what a great shot, what a great birdie'”, said Roger Federer. “With tennis it’s… ‘hmm, you’ve already made 25 mistakes.’ There’s more pressure”, he said.
Media is a bridge between the world and the players. However, the bridge has been treated as a marketplace that is designed to ‘sell’ and not ‘inform’. It is indeed high time that the media recognizes its role in the society, and maybe change a few things in their approach to present news.