Serena Williams

Serena Williams in action at U.S. Open. (Louis Lanzano/Sipa USA/TNS)

Watching Serena Williams vehemently protest her innocence when her coach was flagged for coaching in the U.S. Open final Saturday, a question comes to mind.

Coaches can’t coach in tennis? There’s really such a rule?

There is in ATP events and Grand Slams. So much as a gesture interpreted as coaching during a match, including warmups, and it’s a code violation.

Such a ridiculous rule left Williams in position of having to protest more than her innocence. It’s apparently seen as cheating, a character thing.

Because, you know, a sport where elite players have coaches, trainers and agents among their ever-present pit crew off the court demands the absurd appearance of rugged individualism.

This appearance-based absurdity conjures memories of Casey Martin having to sue the PGA Tour under the Americans With Disabilities Act for the right to use a golf cart during the third stage of Q-school. A painful circulatory condition in his right leg affected his ability to walk between shots.

No less than Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus spoke out against allowing carts in competition, not exactly a compassionate look for two hallowed figures. The PGA fought all the way to the Supreme Court and lost.

Let’s take tennis’ no-coaching rule and apply it to college football. Coaches prepare their teams, after all, and teams should function on their own on Saturdays. To the stands, Nick Saban and staff. Same for Gus Malzahn and staff. No suspicious hand gestures, and officials must monitor play-calling communication.

We have a flag from the booth!

Tennis seems more tightly wound. Players must wear white at Wimbledon. No catsuits at the French Open, and no coaching at major events. Absurd.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.

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