Unseeded tennis pro Roberta Vinci beat Serena Williams at the 2015 US Open Semifinal in a stunning defeat. Williams' goal to earn a Grand Slam was cut short by someone whom everyone underestimated. When Vinci won, she declared: "But today is my day - sorry guys."
Why offer an apology?
What a monumental feat! Termed "aging" by the press, Vinci beat Williams in 3 sets. Previously, Vinci had never won against Williams, one of the best tennis players of all time. After winning, exactly what Vinci set out to do, she needn't have offered an apology.
Why this apology?
The match was held in New York, attended primarily by US fans. One could imagine that most fans were rooting for their fellow American Williams, not the Italian Vinci. A Williams victory would generate enormous buzz; but now the excitement will shift. With this apology, Vinci defused fan disappointment - is that her responsibility?
Why any apology?
Does Vinci not deserve this win because:
- she has never won a set vs. Williams?
- at 32, she is an older than average player?
- she was surrounded by Williams' fans?
- Williams did not play her best?
- ticket or media sales will now decrease?
Or is apologizing simply a female habit? Women have historically been collaborators, moving families and other teams ahead by praising and empowering them, smoothing ruffled feathers in times of conflict to keep emotions and tears in check.
When my children were young, I joined a Mommy and Me group. One of my fellow moms was rear-ended, with the other driver clearly at fault. When she stepped out of the car, she could tell the other driver was emotionally charged, so she apologized to diffuse the situation. The other driver's insurance firm used her apology to argue that she was at fault. She fought the case, which ultimately resulted in a series of "I'm Sorry" laws, which stipulate that an apology is not an admission of guilt.
Many times an apology works and matters. However, too often women give away their power.
Roberta Vinci: You EARNED your day - Claim it!
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