Serena Williams faced both warnings and fines as the umpire accused her of receiving coaching at the finals for the US Open Women’s tournament. He also took away a point from Williams for breaking her racket and accused her of verbal abuse, which has sparked a bigger debate regarding sexism in sports.
“I honestly don’t believe the umpire was being sexist when giving Williams penalties. Williams made somewhat a big deal out of it,” said Fakhre Alam, a 27 year old local tennis player and enthusiast.
Social rights activists disagree with those who criticize Williams, encouraging other female sports players to speak up against sexism in sports.
“When a woman is emotional, she's ‘hysterical’ and she's penalized for it. When a man does the same, he's ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same," Billie Jean King, a tennis legend and equal rights advocate, said via Twitter.
During the game, Williams was first warned because the umpire believed her coach was instructing her. Williams argued that he was not doing anything and that she did not cheat.
“I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right for her and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology,” Williams said.
After losing a point to Osaka, Williams broke her racket in frustration, earning a point penalty. Williams was angry at the umpire for taking away a point and judging her character, calling the umpire a thief.
“And you stole a point from me, you’re a thief, too,” Williams said.
The umpire responded by giving Williams a game penalty for verbal abuse and code violation. Williams argued after getting the penalties that it just wasn’t fair.
“For me to say ‘thief,’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief,’” Williams said in an interview for The Washington Post.
Williams repeatedly said that the umpire owed her an apology. The umpire, Carlos Ramos, stayed calm and did not apologize. Many have continued to defend him.
“Carlos is an umpire with a great reputation for being firm but fair,” Michael Morrissey, a former tennis umpire, said in an interview with Sandra Harwitt on behalf of USA Today.
“He treats players equally whether they’re a qualifier or the number one seed, whether they’re a champion or a player playing in their first Grand Slam,” Morrissey said.
Simona Halep and many other tennis players also agree with Michael Morrissey.
“The rules are the rules. I don't see any difference between the men's rules and women's rules, and I think the chair umpires are doing just their jobs. I never had any problems with him, or with any umpire,” Halep said.
Thumbnail Credit: Adam Hunger, File/AP
Header Credit: Luigi Gatto, Tennis World