Tennis Reporter Slammed for Describing Serena Williams Interview with Reporter As a ‘Heated Exchange’

AP Serena
The Associated Press

New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg took some heat after saying an interview given by champion player Serna Williams was a “heated exchange” with reporters.

On March 8, Williams sat for questions after returning to the courts upon completion of her maternity break. At one point, Williams faced a tough question about her use of prednisolone, a drug banned by tennis authorities. For the 2015 French Open, Williams was awarded an exemption and allowed to use the drug because it was prescribed by a doctor for a medical reason.

But the question obviously caught the tennis great off guard and the resulting exchange was somewhat tense, Yard Barker reported.

Indeed, Williams started off sarcastically asking the reporter to “speak up” so “everyone can hear you talking about my drugs.”

Williams went on to say that she has been “extremely honest” about her health regime and that she did nothing illegal.

While Williams kept her cool throughout the exchange, she was obviously unhappy with the whole line of questioning.

Williams’ tense response is what got the Times’ Rothenberg in hot water after he took to social media to ask why the segment did not get more coverage by reporters.

As soon as Rothenberg sent those posts, though, others in sports media began to question his characterization of the exchange:

Eventually, the reporter agreed that he might have been too harsh in his assessment.

“You’re right,” Rothenberg wrote on March 10, “heated definitely wasn’t the right word. Intense, but not heated.”

In the end, it is clear that Williams was quite unhappy with the question and was more than a little piqued when she began answering the reporter, but “heated” just might be a bit of an overstatement.

This incident over the Williams question is not the first time that Ben Rothenberg has gotten in trouble over a Williams sister. Rothenberg is the same reporter who was widely criticized in March of last year for correctly assessing that Williams plies the court with a hard-charging “guerrilla effect” style of play.

Many left-wing reporters criticized Rothenberg for using a word too close to “gorilla” and for sounding “racist” with his color commentary.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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