Their view: Serena Williams’ prefect response

Heidi Stevens - Guest Columnist
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I’m sorry Serena Williams has to answer so many stupid questions, but I’m always grateful for her answers in the face of them.

This latest may have been the stupidest question yet — stupider even than folks asking her whether she’d return to tennis after her baby was born.

Inside Tennis reporter Bill Simons interviewed Williams in Paris over the weekend and asked her whether she’s intimidated by Maria Sharapova’s “supermodel good looks.”

“I have been waiting about 14 years to ask you this question,” Simons said to Williams. “After the 2004 Wimbledon match with Maria, I had the opportunity to interview Donald Trump on his LA golf course, and he said that Maria’s shoulders were incredibly alluring, and then he came up with his incredible analysis: that you were intimidated by her supermodel good looks. My question is: Have you ever been intimidated by anyone on a tennis court, and what are your thoughts about that occurrence?”

Brief pause while we imagine a reporter asking Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper whether he’s intimidated by Kris Bryant’s supermodel (Express model, anyway) good looks.

… OK. Back to Williams. She is, by many accounts, the best tennis player ever. (Even Roger Federer says so.) At age 35, she has 23 Grand Slam singles titles. She’s won the French Open, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.

There are probably things that intimidate her. (The slow rise of our oceans due to climate change. The looming Social Security crisis. I’m just guessing here.)

But Maria Sharapova’s looks? Seriously? You waited 14 years to run that one by her?

Simons apologized on Twitter for his “awkward” question. Fine. I’m sure Williams has moved on. We all should.

But not without taking a moment to admire and internalize her perfect response to the question.

“I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that,” Williams said to Simons. “I can’t say I have been intimated by anyone. That’s all. That’s it.”

I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that.

How utterly perfect. How succinctly stated. How eminently repeatable.

Every time a neighbor tries to draw you into a debate you have no interest in joining; every time a colleague tries to goad you into gossiping about another colleague; every time someone attempts to tap your limited reserves of patience and waste it on a bunch of nonsense …

I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that.

“Why did Sue get that promotion? Everyone knows she can’t handle the pressure.”

“I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that.”

“Did you see (fill in celebrity’s name) at the (fill in celebrity event)? Holy plastic surgery!”

“I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that.”

“Can you believe that woman is feeding her toddler Funyuns?”

“I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that.”

I haven’t been this excited about a phrase since “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Thank you, Serena Williams. You have, as ever, comported yourself with enviable strength and grace and poise in the face of tomfoolery.

I will try to live up to your example.

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Heidi Stevens

Guest Columnist

Heidi Stevens is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

Heidi Stevens is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.