Serena Williams has been named the new International Goodwill Ambassador by the UNICEF committee members.
Here's the press release:
"Serena Williams isn't just a world tennis champion, she is a champion for children—and a passionate advocate for providing every child with a quality education. We are delighted that Serena is joining us as UNICEF's newest Goodwill Ambassador and look forward to working together to win for children."
There's no doubt she's the greatest champion in the women's game that the sport has seen in the past decade. She might also be a huge philanthropist off-court, but is she worthy of being a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF?
Many keen observers of her behavior on-court might disagree. Very recently at the US Open, she was involved in a spat with the chair umpire in the final against Samantha Stosur. These were the exact words she used:
"Aren't you the one who screwed me over last time here? Yeah, you are. If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you're out of control. You're out of control. You're totally out of control. You're a hater. You're unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow."
Irrespective of what had happened before she'd let out those words, it was very disrespectful.
She's been in many such controversial situations before, like at the US Open in 2009. Here's what she said to a lines-woman after a foot fault was called:
Does Serena Williams deserve the honorable recognition given by UNICEF?
"I swear to God I'm [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God."
She later explained in both situations that her temper and emotions got in the way and led to her making such remarks. But being a great champion and having played the sport for so long, one would have expected her to control her emotions and attitude in such situations. But, that has yet to happen.
The temper might be part of her personality, but such attitude and aggressiveness does not deserve the position of a goodwill ambassador for a highly reputable organization such as UNICEF.
There have been a few other tennis players named goodwill ambassadors for UNICEF before, with the most recent being Novak Djokovic, but none of them have brandished disrespect towards anyone on-court.
She might still be the most deserving person off-court, but to followers of the sport, it sends out a negative vibe.
We'd hope this honorable recognition she's received would encourage her in the future to behave more appropriately on the tennis court as well.