over at Sports Illustrated gets the "racism" comment a lot and he's discussed it several times (as well as authoring "Venus Envy" about a year on the women's tour.) I recommend his mailbag - a must read for tennis fans.
Concerning your argument, I see several key points. First, Serena especially is very physically dominant. She is an excellent ball striker and I think her placement and movement are underrated, but no where as talented as Henin or to pull up an older name, Hingis. Her strengths are her extreme aggression, power and stamina. Commentators failing to note that are either blind or biasing their opinions the other way. Second, Sharapova's injuries have been very bad for the commercial side of women's tennis. She is a diva in all aspects. Of course purists will hate that, but between looks, game and personality (very diva like), she gets lots of headlines. While commentators shouldn't show favoritism, having her back in the game is a plus all around just like Henin and Clisters return. Note that the same is true of Venus Williams. She's had the benefit of a lot of positive press as she's come back from injury to regain the number two spot in the world and a LOT of people are hoping for another Williams v Williams final. When all those players were injured or retired, you had Safina as a number one and everyone scratching their heads (including Serena
). That was bad for women's tennis. It's great to look at the women's draw and see five or six names with real shots at the title. Finally, S. Williams doesn't make many friends. She is notorious for backhanded compliments or outright slams to her opponents at post match interviews when she loses. She's phenomenal in Slams, but turns in lackluster performances at other top tier events if she bothers to play them at all. Let's not forget her threats aimed at a line judge
last year at the US Open:
Serena Williams wrote:
"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."
Of course, athletes have always been known to get caught up in the play, but players like McEnroe and Nastase were also blasted by the media for their antics. You'll hear the argument that Serena is held to a higher standard, but that really doesn't hold up to close observation. Once again, compare that to her sister. Venus does not generate nearly the fire in the press that Serena does and that was true even when Venus was the top dog.