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U.S. Open sponsor Moet leads Champagne toast to champion Serena Williams, a Jehovah's Witness who does not drink

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U.S. Open sponsor Moet leads Champagne toast to champion Serena Williams, a Jehovah's Witness who does not drink

Reporters on tight deadline wait for inappropriate-feeling homage before Williams can begin press conference.


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2012, 12:00 AM

Serena Williams is thrilled about winning the U.S. Open, but she will not celebrate with a champagne toast due to her religious beliefs.


There was an awkward interval Sunday night in the press interview room, when the U.S. Open sponsors, Moet, delivered a trolley of small champagne bottles to the assembled media who already had waited an hour to ask post-match questions of Serena Williams.

Before Williams could begin answering questions, USTA CEO Gordon Smith led a toast that basically called Williams’ victory the greatest match in Open history.

The event felt inappropriate for several reasons: First of all, a modicum of neutrality is expected in media venues. No cheering in the press box, and all that. The match was not that stupendous - merely good, and close.

Reporters also were on tight deadline, hardly thrilled to wait even longer to hear Smith’s homage.

Most importantly, however, Williams is a Jehovah’s Witness. Devotees of the religion do not drink alcoholic beverages, and can’t encourage their consumption.

A couple of false reports were tweeted suggesting that Williams had ordered the champagne for the press - like golfer “Champagne” Tony Lema.

Serena was gracious about Smith’s toast, but she did remind everyone that she could not share in the toast, because of her beliefs.

Article Source: New York Daily News

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Serena was gracious about Smith’s toast, but she did remind everyone that she could not share in the toast, because of her beliefs.

Article Source: New York Daily News

This was the only true statement here that has obviously got misconstrued. She may avoid partaking of alcohol at times of winning because of the chance of 'toasts' that have historic overtones of libating gods for good luck in the past and revering persons more than necessary when our reverence belongs to Jehovah - I'd be with her on this.

For the full article on this issue see Watchtower 15th February 2007 Question from readers. Here's a few excerpts:

The Bible does not mention toasting, so why do Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid sharing in toasts?

It is not because Christians do not hope that someone finds happiness and enjoys good health. In a letter to the congregations, the first-century governing body concluded with a word that can be rendered “good health to you,” “keep well,” or “fare well.” (Acts 15:29) And some true worshippers said to human kings: “Let my lord . . . live to time indefinite” or “Let the king himself live to time indefinite.”—1 Kings 1:31; Nehemiah 2:3.

What, though, is the background of the custom of toasting? ... The Encyclopædia Britannica (1910), Volume 13, page 121: “The custom of drinking ‘health’ to the living is most probably derived from the ancient religious rite of drinking to the gods and the dead. The Greeks and Romans at meals poured out libations to their gods, and at ceremonial banquets drank to them and to the dead.” The encyclopedia added: “Intimately associated with these quasi-sacrificial drinking customs must have ever been the drinking to the health of living men. The 1995 International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture says: “[Toasting] is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words ‘long life!’ or ‘to your health!...Good luck....

What about using wine in connection with religious acts? .. Baal-worshipping men of Shechem “went into the house of their god and ate and drank and called down evil upon Abimelech,” Gideon’s son. (Judges 9:22-28) Do you think one loyal to Jehovah would have shared in that drinking, perhaps calling for a divine influence against Abimelech? Describing a time when many in Israel revolted against Jehovah, Amos said: “They stretch themselves out beside every altar; and the wine of those who have been fined they drink at the house of their gods.” (Amos 2:8) Would true worshippers have shared in such, whether the wine was poured out as a libation to the gods or just drunk in that connection? (Jeremiah 7:18) Or would a true worshipper lift up a glass of wine and ask for a divine influence on someone or a blessed future for him? .... Toasting today may not be viewed by many as a religious gesture. Still, there are valid reasons why Christians do not share in toasting, which has a (non-Christian) religious background."

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