Saturday, July 8, 2017

Leave Venus Alone!

Image result for venus williams playing tennis

Historically speaking, I have not been the world's staunchest supporter of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. They haven't always, in my opinion, conducted themselves with the utmost grace following on-court losses. They have sometimes suggested, either in regard to their own play or in defense of each other, that they can be beaten on court only if they defeat themselves.
This is, I feel, a failure to give due credit to an opponent. A classier course of action is to concede that one's opponent was the superior player on that given day. Far more often than not, both Williams sisters have done exactly that, but a failure to do so even once attracts a great deal of attention.

For the most part, though, Venus and Serena Williams have conducted their personal and professional lives, as do ***** the overwhelming majority of female athletes, in a manner that is above reproach. They occupy themselves productively, pay taxes, stay on the right side of the law, and share their wealth with worthy causes. In the grand scheme of things, the world would be a lovely place if everyone inhabiting it lived as the Williams sisters do.

Where Venus Williams' recent auto accident is concerned, I am bothered by how she has been treated. A car Venus was driving was struck by another car in an intersection not far from her home in Florida. The driver of the other car suffered multiple fractures. Worse yet, a seventy-eight-year-old passenger in the car sustained injuries that led to his death thirteen days later. An auto accident is probably not the way any of us wish to see our elderly relatives go. I'm especially sorry for the driver of the car, who must deal with her own injuries along with the grief associated with losing her husband.

On the other hand, sometimes accidents are merely accidents. Sometimes, even, those who suffer the greatest losses as the result of accidents are also the  ones who, when everything has been investigated, are shown to bear some or all of the responsibility for having caused the accidents. Palm Beach Gardens police initially, after interviewing witnesses, stated that Ms. Williams was at fault in the accident. Someone, acting on behalf of the estate of the deceased, almost immediately filed a lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages from Ms. Williams. Subsequently a tape of the accident showed that Ms. Williams entered the intersection legally on a green light, stopped when another car turned left in front of her, then, when the light turned red, attempted to proceed through the intersection when her car was slammed by another car entering the intersection. The Palm Beach Gardens police apparently learned from their earlier mistake of prematurely assigning fault in the accident, and this time declined to state specifically who was at fault. 

The officers presumably will soon complete their investigation. I won't  jump to any ridiculous conclusions in the meantime. Nonetheless, I have questions concerning how a collision of such magnitude occurred under the circumstances.
The driver of the car that struck Ms. Williams' car indicated that she was approaching the stoplight as it turned green and couldn't stop in time to avoid hitting Ms. Williams' car. From that, I would assume that she hadn't yet stopped at the light.  What if the light had not turned green at that precise instant? Would the driver then have run the light and hit whomever else happened to be in the intersection?

Police stated that Ms. Williams entered the intersection legally. A car turned left in front of her. She was driving sufficiently defensively that she was able to avoid hitting that car. Then the light turned red. She appeared to have proceeded with caution. The driver of the other car (and the spokesperson for whatever law firm represents the estate of the deceased) says that Ms. Williams should have stayed out of the other driver's lane -- that, by proceeding through the intersection, she failed to yield the right of way. How fast must the vehicle have been traveling if the driver could not stop though cars were in the intersection? Should Venus Williams  have remained in place in the intersection, blocking traffic? I assume that, had she seen another car approaching at a fast enough rate of speed to create a fatal accident on impact with her car, Ms. Williams would have remained motionless. Had she done that, however, she might just as easily have been broadsided by another elderly Florida driver plowing through the intersection.

What would you or I do if someone turned left in front of us in an intersection? Would we apply the brakes to avoid an avoidable collision, or would we go ahead and hit the car turning left so that we would then be clear of the intersection before a light turned red?  What do you or I typically do when a light turns green, theoretically allowing us to proceed, yet a car or two remain(s) in the intersection before us? Do we proceed because we have the supposed right of way, or do we first allow the cars to clear the intersection? It all seems quite ludicrous when the possibilities are considered.

My dad is here as I'm typing this. He says I'm throwing fuel on the fire by writing anything about this issue before the police have completed their investigation (except that it's probably OK because he acknowledges that hardly anyone reads this blog). It is not my intent to do that at all, though, with the information the police have given us, it's difficult to concoct a cogent scenario in which Ms. Williams would be at fault in this accident. It would be a classy move for the "estate" to announce that it is dropping the lawsuit against Ms. Williams. As it was, whoever was responsible for acting on behalf of the estate barely waited for rigor mortis to set in before filing the suit. Would such have been the case if someone as ordinary as I had been driving the other car, or is the hastiness with which the suit was filed in some way proportionate to the presumed depth of Ms. Williams' pockets? About that we will never know; we're each free to form our own conclusions.

***** Knotty or anyone else who knows, is it do or does here? Does the verb need to agree with "majority" or with "athletes"?


  1. The way I test it is substituting the appropriate pronoun... The majority of female athletes behave... They behave.

  2. Knotty tests the same way I do.
    I was visiting the big city years ago when someone turned left in front of me in an intersection. I couldn't stop fast enough and the offender and I collided. I had to stay down there for a week waiting for the vehicle to be fixed. At least no one was hurt and the accident was not my fault. I don't see that Venus could have done anything different.

    1. Poor Venus. Her insurance company is probably entitled to recover costs for repairing her car, though someone will call her greedy if the insurance carrier does that even if it's not Venus' doing.

      The other car must have been moving along at a brisk speed.