‘There’s sexism in tennis but that doesn’t excuse Serena Williams’ behaviour’
Serena Williams has been the victim of misogyny and racism throughout her life, but that does not make her immune from sanction when she steps out of line.
Williams was fined a total of $17,000 (£13,100) for the three code violations she was issued in the US Open final she lost to Naomi Osaka – a tiny fraction of her winnings, admittedly, but a significant fine nonetheless in the context of the sport.
The accusation of sexism she levelled at umpire Carlos Ramos for docking her a game for verbal abuse – she had called him a “liar” and a “thief” – ensured the story would command headlines for days. The stakes then became even higher when two of the most senior administrators in the sport endorsed Williams’ comments and laid the blame squarely at the umpire’s door.
The chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, issued a statement to say he did not feel Ramos was as tolerant to Williams as he would have been to a man. Earlier in the day, the US Tennis Association president Katrina Adams also accused Ramos, and other umpires, of gender bias in a television interview.
“We watch the guys do this all the time,” she said on the ESPN set at Flushing Meadows.
“They are badgering the umpire on the changeovers, and nothing happens. There’s no equality.”
These comments are made without a moment’s thought for all the umpires who are in the chair this week in Chicago, Quebec City and Hiroshima, and in the weeks and months to come. Their authority is instantly undermined.