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Meltdown mania

09.16.09 at 9:00 am ET

Even with NFL kickoff weekend looming large in the minds of sports fans across the nation, a little-known tennis tournament held in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., managed to garner some attention on Saturday. Two points from being upset by Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams was called for a foot fault, the line judge claiming her foot went over the baseline on her serve.

Williams had not been playing her best tennis, and the ensuing fit she pitched is on par with some of the best athlete meltdowns.

The best part is when she yells out, “Are you serious?!” It’s the perfect homage to another well-known outburst by a tennis player.

The rest of this entry could be filled with John McEnroe outbursts ‘€” please believe the idea was debated. However, that would be unfair to other athletes, coaches and personalities who have lost their cool in the heat of the moment. Take, for example, Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy.

At least we are now clear on whether or not Gundy is a man.

When your meltdown involves defending your players, that’s OK, but the blowups are much more memorable when your team has just lost a game it should have won.

The beauty of that meltdown is the person saying, “Thanks coach.” How do you continue with a press conference after that? More importantly, what more could you possibly want in a sound bite? Maybe this:

To be fair, not all of the best meltdowns happen in sports. Celebrities and personalities have the ability to command the meltdown spotlight, such as Ellen DeGeneres over a puppy.

Wow, so that was a bit emotional. Let’s lighten the mood.

As fans ‘€” of sports stars or celebrities ‘€” we often hold those we follow to a higher standard of excellence. We yearn to get closer to them, to see them as regular people. However, the meltdown is what we really look for. It shows, if ever so briefly, a crack in the made-for-TV image that we are fed on a daily basis. It lets us know that these people are, in fact, human and, like the rest of us, have bad days.

Read More: Dennis Green, Ellen Degeneres, John McEnroe, Mike Gundy