Infotainment Factory: Wilkinson warned before tense Serena interview

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Sunday, 23 September 2018

Wilkinson warned before tense Serena interview


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Lisa Wilkinson has revealed she was prevented from asking Serena Williams about a cartoon of her US Open meltdown by The Herald Sun’s Mark Knight during a sometimes-tense interview with the former World No.1.

Williams spoke to Wilkson on The Project three days after her loss to Naomi Osaka in the final of the US Open’s women’s final, which was remembered more for her running battle with Carlos Ramos after being slapped with three code violations.

The American tennis star had a publicist hovering in the background to monitor questions about the US Open – Wilkinson was restricted to only four – but the Australian television personality was warned the interview would be terminated if she asked about Knight’s cartoon.

Knight caused a stir worldwide when he published a caricature of Williams losing at the US Open with the umpire quipping, ‘Can you just let her win’, with critics branding the cartoon racist while Germaine Greer believed it was sexist.

Lisa Wilkinson and Serena Williams react after the publicist steps in on the interview.

“There’s probably a few people watching who are wondering why I didn’t ask about the Mark Knight cartoon and there was a very good reason for that,” Wilkinson said.

“I was told in no uncertain terms before I sat down in that room that if I asked about the Mark Knight cartoon Serena would get up and walk.

“There would be no ifs and buts. She did not want to discuss it.

“I know that would make great tabloid TV, to have a walk-off from Serena Williams, but I was more actually more interested in her answers to the US Open questions.”

'This doesn't happen if she's not losing'

There were tense moments when the interview shifted to the US Open, with Williams still denying that she had received coaching from Patrick Mouratoglo, even though he admitted it in a television interview after the game.

Williams received her first code violation for coaching before things quickly deteriorated after that, with Ramos issuing her a second for smashing her racquet and then a third for abusing him in which she called him a ‘thief’ and accused him of treating her differently to male players.

“I just don’t understand what he was talking about because I asked him, I was like, ‘What are you talking about? You were coaching? We don’t have signals’,” Williams said.

“We’ve never had signals, and he said he made a motion. So, it was like, ‘OK, you made a motion, now you tell people that you’re coaching? That doesn’t make sense. Why would you say that?’

Lisa Wilkinson was prevented asking Serena Williams about a Herald Sun cartoon.

“I was on the other side, I didn’t see the motion. It was just a really confusing moment for him and I was like, ‘It’s OK, but don’t…”

Wilkinson asked another question in regards to whether Williams regretted smashing her racquet, prompting the publicist to step in off-camera and told her she’d asked four questions about the US Open and it was time to change topics.

Wilkinson told Williams she was ‘totally in her hands’ before changing tack and saying her outburst had divided opinion, including women’s tennis champions Billie-Jean King who supported her and Martina Navratilova who thought she had crossed the line.

“I honestly am just always supportive … and that’s how I’ve always been,” Williams said.

Serena Williams said she was standing up for women's rights at the US Open.

“I think that Billie-Jean King has done the same thing in starting the tour and creating an opportunity for me to play.

“Even a man, if you want to express yourself in a way where you’re not using profanity or you’re just being yourself and you’re at this moment where you’ve worked for since you’re three years old and you’re on the cusp of this amazing moment.

“You’re a female, you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do and I feel like right now we are not as it’s proven in that same position.

“But you know, that’s neither here or there. I’m just trying to recover from that and just move on.”  

 

Lisa Wilkinson has revealed she was prevented from asking Serena Williams about a cartoon of her US Open meltdown by The Herald Sun’s Mark Knight during a sometimes-tense interview with the former World No.1.

Williams spoke to Wilkson on The Project three days after her loss to Naomi Osaka in the final of the US Open’s women’s final, which was remembered more for her running battle with Carlos Ramos after being slapped with three code violations.

The American tennis star had a publicist hovering in the background to monitor questions about the US Open – Wilkinson was restricted to only four – but the Australian television personality was warned the interview would be terminated if she asked about Knight’s cartoon.

Knight caused a stir worldwide when he published a caricature of Williams losing at the US Open with the umpire quipping, ‘Can you just let her win’, with critics branding the cartoon racist while Germaine Greer believed it was sexist.

Lisa Wilkinson and Serena Williams react after the publicist steps in on the interview.

“There’s probably a few people watching who are wondering why I didn’t ask about the Mark Knight cartoon and there was a very good reason for that,” Wilkinson said.

“I was told in no uncertain terms before I sat down in that room that if I asked about the Mark Knight cartoon Serena would get up and walk.

“There would be no ifs and buts. She did not want to discuss it.

“I know that would make great tabloid TV, to have a walk-off from Serena Williams, but I was more actually more interested in her answers to the US Open questions.”

'This doesn't happen if she's not losing'

There were tense moments when the interview shifted to the US Open, with Williams still denying that she had received coaching from Patrick Mouratoglo, even though he admitted it in a television interview after the game.

Williams received her first code violation for coaching before things quickly deteriorated after that, with Ramos issuing her a second for smashing her racquet and then a third for abusing him in which she called him a ‘thief’ and accused him of treating her differently to male players.

“I just don’t understand what he was talking about because I asked him, I was like, ‘What are you talking about? You were coaching? We don’t have signals’,” Williams said.

“We’ve never had signals, and he said he made a motion. So, it was like, ‘OK, you made a motion, now you tell people that you’re coaching? That doesn’t make sense. Why would you say that?’

Lisa Wilkinson was prevented asking Serena Williams about a Herald Sun cartoon.

“I was on the other side, I didn’t see the motion. It was just a really confusing moment for him and I was like, ‘It’s OK, but don’t…”

Wilkinson asked another question in regards to whether Williams regretted smashing her racquet, prompting the publicist to step in off-camera and told her she’d asked four questions about the US Open and it was time to change topics.

Wilkinson told Williams she was ‘totally in her hands’ before changing tack and saying her outburst had divided opinion, including women’s tennis champions Billie-Jean King who supported her and Martina Navratilova who thought she had crossed the line.

“I honestly am just always supportive … and that’s how I’ve always been,” Williams said.

Serena Williams said she was standing up for women's rights at the US Open.

“I think that Billie-Jean King has done the same thing in starting the tour and creating an opportunity for me to play.

“Even a man, if you want to express yourself in a way where you’re not using profanity or you’re just being yourself and you’re at this moment where you’ve worked for since you’re three years old and you’re on the cusp of this amazing moment.

“You’re a female, you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do and I feel like right now we are not as it’s proven in that same position.

“But you know, that’s neither here or there. I’m just trying to recover from that and just move on.”  

 

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