The Williams debacle
by Katrina Allen
A huge number of fans, (in particular, Americans, since she is, of course, virtually royalty there), seem to agree with Serena Williams that the game docked from her in the US Open Final was about sexism.
To me that’s crazy; the umpire gave a legitimate warning for coaching and she then harangued him at every changeover thereafter, stabbing her finger at him: “apologise", “you owe me an apology", “announce to the crowd that I didn't cheat” (the umpire didn't say she had cheated - he said she had received coaching, which the coach later admitted to and for which many players receive warnings since that is the rule).
The tirade continued at every changeover after the warning; she was clearly not going to let it go and it was bound to end in tears. She then she called him a “cheater, a liar and a thief” in front of 20,000 people and a tv audience of millions and expected to get away with it. "He stole a point from me”. How did she figure that one out? She smashed her racket which is always an automatic point loss after an initial code violation.
And for the final warning, for which she was penalised a game? Well, the rule book makes it absolutely clear: “verbal abuse is defined as a statement about an official that implies dishonesty or is derogatory, insulting, or otherwise abusive.”
Umpire Carlos Ramos is famously a stickler, goes strictly by the rules. He has had equally-confrontational incidents with male players. There is no way he would have let a male player get away with what she said.
Sexism in tennis is a problem area in the game, but that’s a whole other issue and has nothing to do with what happened in this match.
No Serena, you are obfuscating the whole issue and, sadly, a lot of people are falling for it.
And fans call her a great role model even after that outburst. Nice role-model eh?
Williams received the paltry fine of US$17,000 (considering her runner’s up prize money of US$1.85 million) for her outburst when she should be given a lengthy suspension. It might have made her think twice in future about her behaviour.
She was, of course, chasing the magic number of 24 Grand Slam singles titles to equal those of Margaret Court, and her excessive behaviour was maybe due to the fact that she saw the match slipping away from her to a mere 20 yr old who simply outplayed her.
But spare a thought for the poor umpire Carlos Ramos who had to be escorted off the court by security and was prevented from receiving his umpire’s medal at the prize ceremony. I expect he is already getting death threats on Twitter. Actually, I just checked - he isn’t on Twitter or maybe he’s closed his account. By the way, his earnings for umpiring the match, in what I viewed as a thoroughly professional manner, were US$600.00.
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