Williams demands apology from umpire, after she called him a ‘thief’.
The WTA Tour has upped the ante in the Serena Williams US Open meltdown crisis, with the women’s sanctioning body going to the attack in aid of its box office golden girl with a statement slamming apparent “sexism” in tennis.
Williams and her camp are demanding an apology from chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who pegged an irate Williams with warning, point and game penalties for a rising level of various infractions during her ill-tempered 6-2, 6-4 finals loss to Japan’s rising star Naomi Osaka.
The furious Williams reaction on court was escalated post-match, with the 36-year-old charging sexism, saying chair umpires apply different standards of behaviour to men and women.
Others are already saying coaching form the stands could perhaps be made legal.
WTA boss Steve Simon quickly jumped in feet first:
“(The) US Open final resulted in the crowning of a deserving new champion, Naomi Osaka.
“(It) also brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches.
“The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same.
“We do not believe that this was done last night,” the weekend statement read.
Australian Open supremo Craig Tiley said the no-coaching rule needs to be examined.
“It all centred on coaching,” he told Australian media in Melbourne. “The sport has to really get itself sorted out on what it does with coaching.
“Are we going to have coaching? Are we not going to have coaching? What is it going to look like?
“The sport needs to get together and sort it out. Once that’s sorted out, we don’t have the issue.”
Wiilliams was fined a relatively minuscule $17,000, which hardly make a dent in her $1.85 million runner-up cheque.
The volcano of abuse towards Ramos from 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams, bidding for her seventh New York trophy, was sparked in the first game of the second set when her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was called out for sending signals from the stands.
The pro-forma warning set Williams off in an ugly row which escalated, with the former No. 1 calling the Portuguese official a thief and repeatedly demanding an apology.
Williams later said she was fighting for the rights of women, an apparently impromptu line she picked up prior to facing media after the loss.
The Williams #MeToo charge was quickly echoed by former women’s tennis heavyweights Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, among others.
One of Williams’ biggest defenders is USTA boss Kartina Adams, head of a massive federation littered with female executives and the first of the Grand Slam to pay equal prize money starting in long-ago 1973.
Adams told US television: who would have thought that Serena’s major tantrum during a changeover would be broadcast at all?
The disingenuous idea is already likely being incorporated into a defence strategy by Williams supporters.
Adams charged that ATP players “are badgering the umpire on the changeovers and nothing happens – we watch the guys do this all the time.
“There’s no equality when it comes to what the men are doing to the chair umpires and what the women are doing, and I think there has to be some consistency across the board.
“I’m all about gender equality and I think when you look at that situation these are conversations that will be imposed in the next weeks. We have to treat each other fairly and the same.”
Williams and her allies also insist that male players are almost never penalised severely for similar outbursts.
While charges of sexism pick up pace, the Sunday men’s final in New York, won in straight sets by Novak Djokovic over Juan Martin del Potro, was a model of decorum.
Not once during the battle lasting for three and a quarter hours did anyone raise a voice to British umpire Alison Hughes, only the second female to chair an Open men’s singles final.
Experienced tennis observers said she ran a “clean fight” – like a boxing referee, no gouging no biting, no swearing, no tantrums.
Djokovic didn’t bat an eyelid when she called him for shot clock violation as he was in mid-serve – he just carried on, as it should be.
There were few line-call challenges made, with most decisions from the chair accepted with grace.
So in charge was Hughes that she control the notoriously noisy and self-opinionated New York crowd: it remained deathly quiet at critical moments of play.