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Serena Williams at center of tennis controversy after clashing with umpire during loss in US Open final

A lot of people are still talking about the US Open women’s final between eventual winner Naomi Osaka and runner-up Serena Williams.

I think Osaka is a bright new star who handled herself with a lot of dignity and class throughout the chaos surrounding her first grand slam title. Chair umpire Carlos Ramos decided to penalize Serena because of coaching he saw coming from her box. Serena didn’t see it and was upset because she took it as Ramos accusing her of cheating.

Things escalated from there. Serena broke a racket and got penalized a point then called Ramos a “thief” which led to a verbal abuse call and the loss of a game. This is all during a grand slam final with history on the line.

Men’s champion Novak Djokovic made a comment in his post-match press conference that sums up my feelings pretty well: “I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final. He did change the course of the match. It was, in my opinion, maybe unnecessary. We all go through our emotions, especially when you’re fighting for a Grand Slam trophy.”

Former US Open champions Billie Jean King (in Washington Post) and Martina Navratilova (in The New York Times) have written Op-Eds about the controversy. Both make excellent points but I think BJK makes the best points.

As a longtime tennis fan, I was deeply upset that this umpire ruined the final for the winner, the loser, and the crowd. But if discussions about sexism and the stupid coaching rule (good grief, just drop the damned rule) can come out of this, great.

There are those who will say there is no excuse for Serena’s behavior. I understand it and hope she can come back and at least tie the record of 24 grand slam singles titles currently held by homophobic bigot Margaret Court (Serena has 23).


FILE UNDER: Controversy, Tennis

Comments

(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

3 Remarks

  1. September 11th, 2018 at 10:48 am
    James Dwight Williamson says:

    Well stated, by Djokovic, even though my favorite is Federer. The men of tennis know they have all done worse with no consequences. Also the warning to Cornet for turning her shirt around when the men sit around half dressed.

  2. You know, all games have rules, and tennis has to deal with rule-breakers. Serena is a money-maker for professional tennis, so, naturally they will take her side over villain umpires, who try to enforce the RULES. Women’s tennis was forever changed with the rise of the Williams sisters and their style of play. It was successful for them and they made millions and remained in the spotlight over the years. Well, now the spotlight may just be fading a bit, and this can be a difficult pill to swallow. Many successfully retire from the sport on a high level. Others keep playing and expect to keep dominating. When the results are not up to their expectations, they are not prepared to accept this, and want to blame it on everything else. Sometimes people that have spent so much of their time in sports are not able to mature as rapidly as others. Overall, this was a reaction of lack of maturity and the fact that loss was approaching, something her ego was not prepared for. She took it out on the umpire, who certainly doesn’t make a fraction of her paycheck. His bad treatment by a money-loving tennis association has led fellow umpires ready to refuse to umpire any future Serena matches. I think it’s time she retired while she can still do so gracefully and at a high level. She got the marriage and child she wanted, so relax and enjoy it all.

  3. You are off the mark in so many ways Bill. Serena is not blameless but neither is the umpire, in my opinion. And for a new mom make the Wimbledon and US Open finals is amazing. She should play for as long as she wants to play.

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