Serena's US Open row latest to put tennis umpires in spotlight
New York, Sept 11: Spawned by sexism or not, Serena Williams's run-in with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in a tumultuous US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka had tennis officiating in an unwanted spotlight once again.
Williams, whose bid to match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles was at least temporarily thwarted by Osaka's 6-2, 6-4 victory, made no bones about her belief that sexism played a role in the code violations handed to her by Ramos -- which added up to a point and a game deducted and a $17,000 fine.
"I've seen other men call other umpires several things," said Williams, who called Ramos a "liar" and a "thief".
"He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief'. For me it blows my mind. But I'm going to continue to fight for women."
Williams had plenty of support in her interpretation, with WTA chief executive Steve Simon saying gender bias apparently played a role in the match.
"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," he said.
"We do not believe that this was done (Saturday)."
That question, coming on the heels of questions over scheduling of women's matches at the Australian Open and widely criticized remarks by French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli suggesting the "Black Panther" catsuit Williams wore at the French Open was somehow "disrespectful", has intensified debate on gender bias in the game.
But Williams isn't the first player to take issue with Ramos's strict interpretation of the rules.
At the 2016 French Open Venus Williams was also angered to receive a code violation for supposedly communicating with her coach.
Mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios ranted at Ramos at the same tournament after he was issued a code violation for shouting at a ball boy to pass him a towel.
Andy Murray received a code violation from Ramos at the 2016 Rio Olympics after Ramos alleged the Briton called him a "stupid umpire". -AFP