The penalties continued for Serena Williams a day after her outburst, while a deeper dive into her target, umpire Carlos Ramos, revealed he is more of a stickler than sexist.
Williams was fined $17,000 on Sunday for the three code violations in her loss to Naomi Osaka, breaking down as follows: $10,000 for verbally abusing the umpire (Ramos), $4,000 for being warned for coaching, and $3,000 for breaking her racket.
The fines come out of Williams’ $1.85 million prize money as the U.S. Open runner-up. At the time of the violations, Williams accused Ramos of holding a double standard because he penalized her for calling him “a thief.”
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to (penalize me a game for the third code violation), it made me feel like it was a sexist remark,” Williams said. “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.”
Although there’s no evidence that another tennis player ever called Ramos a “thief,” he has, in fact, punished four top males in major tournaments in just the last two years.
As Rafa Nadal said last season about the longtime Portuguese umpire, “I say it with sadness, but (Ramos) is an umpire who scrutinizes me more and who fixates on me more. …There are some who like to take part in the matches more and who like to put more pressure on you than others. If you want to see good tennis, you have to let the players breathe a little.”
** At the 2016 Olympics, Ramos called Andy Murray for a code violation for verbally abusing the umpire. Ramos allegedly accused Murray of calling him “stupid,” but then Murray told him, “I didn’t say, ‘Stupid umpire.’ I said, ‘Stupid umpiring.’ If you want to be the star, then fine.”
** In the 2016 French Open, Nick Kyrgios accused Ramos of “unbelievable bias” after he was hit with a code violation for yelling at a towel boy.
** At the 2017 French Open, Rafa Nadal was docked a first-serve after being hit with two timing violations. Nadal claimed he was unfairly targeted by Ramos. “This umpire is trying, in a certain way, to look for my faults, my errors,” Nadal said.
** Just two months ago at Wimbledon, Ramos hit Novak Djokovic with a code violation for throwing his racket on the grass court. However, Djokovic also argued with Ramos — albeit not on the level of Williams — and was not further penalized. Here’s what Djokovic told Ramos after the violation for throwing his racket: “You’re saying in the point if I toss my racket like this I’m ruining the court? You think I ruined the court by tossing the racket two meters behind the baseline? Be honest! Come on!”
None of the above male players were docked a game, let alone a point, like Williams, who was hit with three separate violations Saturday. But by definition of the rules, Williams was guilty of all of them. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admitted he illegally gave her instructions from the stands (whether Williams saw them or not doesn’t matter); Williams definitely smashed her racket on the court, an automatic violation; Williams definitely insulted Ramos by calling him a “liar” and a “thief,” a criteria for umpire abuse.
The big debate is whether Ramos should’ve bothered with the coaching violation since it is commonplace in tennis, and whether Williams deserved more leeway during her tantrum. What can’t be questioned is Williams’ status as the biggest draw in women’s tennis.
According to ESPN PR, the Williams-Osaka match posted a 2.4 rating for the three-hour telecast. It tied for ESPN’s second-highest rating on any match — men or women — in the station’s U.S. Open history (starting in 2009). Viewership was also 32 percent higher than during last year’s final between two Americans, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens.
In other words, Williams still sells and so does drama.
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