So, what really happened during the RG semis? Trying to look objectively..
OK, lets look at it, trying to be more or less objective..
In Miami, Serena was stupid enough to follow the Anti-French wave of those days and said something stupid and offensive to the French. Did it
happen? Yes. She did apologise for that later. Could those words of her be partly a reason for what happened? I think, they might.
Some American media explain it as a backlash for booing French players in Miami. Could it be the case? I don't think so. In all other matches of Americans that I saw, there was nothing like that. Even in Rubin-Henin or Venus-Zvonareva. In both matches crowd was cheering against Americans but still well within tennis etiquette.
Strange thing, in this kind of incidents, it's always Serena. In Indian Wells, it was her. Here it was her. I think there is something in her look, maybe some agressiveness and arrogance, that helps getting crowd started.
Could we say that she is at least partly provoked what happened by her actions ( including actions past). Perhaps, yes, and she has to blame herself for that. But was this reaction an appropriate? By no means.
What we have now? We hear people saying that - lets call it "environment" of the match was the main reason of Serena's loss.
Is it true? After watching the tape again, I must say that I am in at least partly in agreement with this sentiment.
That point at 4:2, 30:0.. Was that point critical? Serena lost that point. She had to hit the second serve. her winning percentage on the first serve was significantly higher than winning on the second serve. She won less than 50% on second serve, she won more than 50% on the first serve. If she'd won that point, what would have happened? I think, she would not have lost that game from 40:0, and having 5:2, she would most likely have won the match. So, it is a valid thing to assume that that point alone might have costed her a match.
Was she right to ask for the first serve? I have to give her the benefit of the doubt. I can imagine, that if, while already swinging, I would note by my peripheral vision that my opponent raised the hand, I probably would not be able to hold my hand and I would hit the ball. But would the quality of my serve be affected by the fact that I noticed the raised hand fraction of a second before hitting the ball? Very possibly, yes.
Was Henin wrong not giving Serena the first serve? I think she was.
So, what we have? We have crowd booing Serena at any opportunity, cheering her mistakes, an opponent not behaving sportsman-like, and umpire and linesmen being clearly biased against her - how else can you interpret his consistent unwillingness to check the marks by Serena's request, and after she insisted - her being correct at every singles time, on a couple of occasions by few inches? I am not saying that linesmen were intentionally robbing her of points- but there is every reason to think that they also wanted Henin to win and they followed their wishful thinking in making calls. Was this altogether enough to swing the outcome of an extremely close match? More than enough.
Lets face it, Henin's clay game is probably superior to Serena's clay game, but Serena's champion's mind is superior to anyone's else, and that's what should have won her this match. The "environment" robbed her of that advantage, it rattled her mind. It didn't affect her mechanics - her shots were OK till the very end. What was clearly not OK - was her decisions at shot selection. I've never seen her failing to put away so many very easy balls by playing strange, *strange* shots. Only within last few games she failed to put away a lot of balls hitting them from inside of service line. Each of them could have costed her a match. And those dropshots..
Why they did it in this match, not in a Mauresmo match? Simple, crowd behaviour matters only when it is a very close match.
Was it worse than in IW? Probably not, but again, that time she was on her best surface against much inferior opponent, unlike today.
She has my sympathies today.
"..just knowing that as long as i choose life, there is hope."
Je ne suis pas charlie