Serena is right. I was there. And worse, he was baiting her. https://t.co/CinW6AJJNo
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) September 8, 2018
I may not know much about tennis, but there’s few women lucky enough to have avoided the “Smile, Bitch, or Else” moment when some petty little pocket tyrant gets to hold our job / career / life hostage. I’m gonna assume it’s even worse for Black women, because the combination of racism and sexism usually is. And it wasn’t just Serena Williams the pismire was punishing for his own failures, either. Sally Jenkins, in the Washington Post:
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos managed to rob not one but two players in the women’s U.S. Open final. Nobody has ever seen anything like it: An umpire so wrecked a big occasion that both players, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams alike, wound up distraught with tears streaming down their faces during the trophy presentation and an incensed crowd screamed boos at the court. Ramos took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him…
When Williams, still seething, busted her racket over losing a crucial game, Ramos docked her a point. Breaking equipment is a violation, and because Ramos already had hit her with the coaching violation, it was a second offense and so ratcheted up the penalty.
The controversy should have ended there. At that moment, it was up to Ramos to de-escalate the situation, to stop inserting himself into the match and to let things play out on the court. In front of him were two players in a sweltering state, who were giving their everything, while he sat at a lordly height above them. Below him, Williams vented, “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief.”
… Ramos has put up with worse from a man. At the French Open in 2017, Ramos leveled Rafael Nadal with a ticky-tacky penalty over a time delay, and Nadal told him he would see to it that Ramos never refereed one of his matches again.
But he wasn’t going to take it from a woman pointing a finger at him and speaking in a tone of aggression. So he gave Williams that third violation for “verbal abuse” and a whole game penalty, and now it was 5-3, and we will never know whether young Osaka really won the 2018 U.S. Open or had it handed to her by a man who was going to make Serena Williams feel his power. It was an offense far worse than any that Williams committed. Chris Evert spoke for the entire crowd and television audience when she said, “I’ve been in tennis a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”…
Ramos had rescued his ego and, in the act, taken something from Williams and Osaka that they can never get back. Perhaps the most important job of all for an umpire is to respect the ephemeral nature of the competitors and the contest. Osaka can never, ever recover this moment. It’s gone. Williams can never, ever recover this night. It’s gone. And so Williams was entirely right in calling him a “thief.”
Naomi Osaka talking about playing against her idol.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) September 10, 2018
Last night wasn't just about humiliating Serena Williams.
It was about sending a message to her likely successor: Don't be uppity like your hero, or we'll teach you lesson, too. https://t.co/ExX9uVwv7n pic.twitter.com/7c35NT0XyA
— Soraya Nadia McDonald (@SorayaMcDonald) September 9, 2018
Rebecca Traister, at NYMag, on “What Rage Costs A Woman”:
… [I]n making the coaching call, in the midst of a match she was playing against a newcomer who looked likely to beat her fair and square, the umpire insinuated that Serena was herself not playing fair and square. That made her livid. And one thing black women are never allowed to be without consequence is livid.
Of course she was mad! She was enraged by being called a cheater, furious at the suggestion that her stature, in this sport that has made her feel so unwelcome even as she has dominated and redefined it, has in any way been anything other than earned. And so, breathless with rage, she said, “I don’t cheat to win; I’d rather lose.” Over and over, she repeated, sometimes pointing her finger at him, “You owe me an apology. You owe me an apology.”…
Perhaps the most heartbreaking moment on Saturday night was watching Serena Williams work to clean up the mess. After losing to Osaka — 16 years her junior, Haitian-Japanese, looking traumatized at having beaten her childhood idol to win her first Grand Slam in such a perverted fashion — Williams stood beside her as the stadium erupted in boos. Williams spoke to the crowd, asked them to stop booing. “I just want to tell you guys she played well and this is her first Grand Slam. Let’s not boo anymore. We will get through this. No more booing. Congratulations, Naomi.” Williams was working to ensure that young Osaka was getting what some in tennis have had such a hard time offering her: respect, pure admiration, and the acknowledgment that her remarkable achievement was earned and legitimate. Both women were crying.
This has been the ask of women, and most especially, of nonwhite women, since the beginning of time: Take the diminution and injustice and don’t get mad about it; if you get mad, you will get punished for it, and then you will be expected to fix it, to make sure everyone is comfortable again.
In her press conference, Williams said, her voice again breaking, “I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that wants to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman and they’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s gonna work out for the next person.”…
"The WTA believes there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men v women & is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done." https://t.co/Wg0jooOFB5
— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) September 10, 2018
I wrote about Serena.
“That her comments were perceived by Ramos as abusive is a result of who Serena is. Black women are often seen as “abusive” when we are simply stating an opinion, pointing something out, or advocating for equal treatment.” https://t.co/y1Inf5sDzn
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) September 10, 2018
Here’s something I wrote for ?@washingtonpost?. I hope you’ll take a read. https://t.co/2sVDwtlDBu
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 9, 2018
One of my least favorite things about the patriarchy is partly what Serena Williams talked about: there is this fiction that women are emotional and irrational, compared to rational, cool-as-a-cucumber men. Except when women get upset, we don’t shoot up schools and churches.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) September 9, 2018
Send it in pennies @serenawilliams https://t.co/LwookBAuef
— i talk music & Falcons football (@Its_Tribblez) September 9, 2018
I hope Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams will agree to just not participate in tournaments that this nasty little sexist is invited to judge.
Boycott the S.O.B.
In some ways sex role stereotyping has lightened up since I researched this subject for my master’s MA way back in the seventies. A few women are CEOs of major corps (or is that just one woman?). Women’s Sports – really not all that much has improved comparing men’s to women’s basketball – using comparative salaries.
Then there is Tennis – Billy Jean King, bless her! And what happened yesterday – a black woman – well how dare she? (snark) After all, she is superior to that male sexist pig who turned the event into something all about him. That piece of trash humanoid will never accomplish what either of those disrespected women have in their careers and lives.
Worse for a black woman? Of course it is.
Sigh, white women in tennis, yeah, hey we’ve got Billie Jean who sort of proved a point. Well, she beat whatever his ass name was. No really I don’t remember, and I’m fine to keep it that way. But I smile, and picture Serena not just beating him, but wiping the court up with whozit. Oh fuck, Bobby Riggs. I hate remembering trivial shit like that. Waste of brain cells.
@Barb 2: You want Wrong, try soccer. US women, world champs. US men, not even in the next World Cup. Guess which team’s salaries are immensely higher?
Osaka really won the US Open. It insults her achievement to suggest that a man handed her the victory.
If it takes an all female officiating crew to be fair to women players, do it. Do they need to change the rules so that every player can vent, break their rackets, etc? Do they need to change the rules so that active coaching is always permitted?
Serena’s coach admitted that he was coaching her. It was not clear that she saw his hand signal. Why not remove the coach and fine him?
For Serena, this comes after her weird treatment by the French. That seemed to be at least in part sexist and racist.
You are making this about something that it is not.
Serina received coaching on court. This is against the rules.
Serena smashed her racquet. This is against the rules.
Serena called the umpire a “”thief”. This is against the rules.
The umpire enforced the rules. Serena threw a tantrum.
You are doing the causes of both racial equality and feminism a disservice by trying to attach them to this tawdry event.
Yeah …send that phucking fine in pennies.??
Mrs. D. Ranged in AZ
@Viva BrisVegas: Male tennis players have done just as bad, if not worse and have not received the same kind of penalties. Until they are treated the same, it is at the very least about sexism.
@Viva BrisVegas: You want tantrums? Can we start with John McEnroe? Most of Serena’s behavior was stuff he got away with back in the day. It was his bad boy thing.
I’ll stop because I srsly don’t follow tennis that much, but no, the double standard is still so with us.
WTA backs up the sexism charges. So yeah, AL is the one doing a ‘disservice’ by posting about it.
@Mrs. D. Ranged in AZ:
From this umpire? Because it is this umpire who is being excoriated. Just look at the comments above. If you are going top accuse someone of wrongdoing, there should really be evidence of it.
Serena is a person, not just some sort of symbol and as a person she lost her shit that day on the court and it wasn’t the fault of the umpire. It was her own ill discipline.
Somebody asked above why Serena gets the blame for her coaces actions. It’s because that is how the rules are written, the player is responsible for the actions of their entourage. Which includes the coach. It might be a stupid rule, but a player of Serena’s experience knows it better than anybody else.
@Viva BrisVegas: James Blake and Andy Roddick went on Twitter and admitting to saying worse things with no penalties. Roddick mentioned an official who went out of his way to try to get Roddick to calm down so he would not have to give a penalty.
Yeah, there are rules. But they are not evenly applied. That’s a problem.
Just from a common sense and box office point of view, officials in tennis and every competition should try to let the competing champions do their thing and decide the match.
1990 Australian Open disqualification.
I don’t know the incidents involved, buit I suspect there is a difference between insulting the umpire and accusing the umpire of dishonesty.
Allowing the “Greats” to get away with stuff like this just sends out the message that they are bigger than the game and the game needs to accommodate them. This is not good for any sport.
Inconsistent umpiring and refereeing is a problem in all sports. Nobody is perfect. The answer is more consistent umpiring, not to excuse the misbehaviour of the big players.
@Viva BrisVegas: People go to sporting matches to see the players. They are not interested in messages or in “the game” as an abstraction. In football and basketball, it is common for the refs to back off from calling fouls that they would level during the regular season.
It’s not just about being inconsistent, it’s about recognizing that the competitors have earned the right to let things play out on the bigger stage.
Golf, tennis and cricket, along with a few other sports, owe some of their rules to an old (and sometimes hypocritical) world of elite clubbiness which is meaningless to a larger audience.
Also, your link of the McEnroe DQ is instructive. Since 1990, tennis officials have tried to better accommodate the temperaments of players while keeping the rules on the books.
Keeping a sport pure is pointless if fans begin abandoning you because officials insist on living in the 19th century.
Well I suppose we have to differ. To me the game is the thing and it has its own integrity. If you start compromising it to satisfy the big players then you are inevitably going to end up with some bastardised version of the game.
You may even end up with a situation in which major stars get to abuse the little people in the game such as linesmen and ballboys, because it suits the dynamic of their game.
That’s not a game I want to watch, but I understand there are other points of view.
@Viva BrisVegas: yes from this specific umpire. It’s already been pointed out the same umpire just last year, did not penalize a man for the same actions.
This case is unusual in that the sexism is surprisingly provable. There have already been quite a few times when it was highly suggestive, but not quite probable, this time, the evidence is pretty clear.
Sometimes the umpire really is wrong.
I haven’t seen that, it would interesting to see if the situations actually are comparable.
In any case, I was always taught that two wrongs do not make a right. That misbehaviour by others does not excuse misbehaviour by me.
Serena knew the rules and flouted them. Smashing a racquet is not only childish, it is also quite dangerous to those on the court. Calling the umpire a cheat and a liar and not expecting a response is bewildering.
@Viva BrisVegas: “From this umpire?”
“I don’t know the incidents involved”
“I haven’t seen that”
This is like watching somebody try to claim a poker pot by confidently laying down three pawns and a bishop.
I think you might have been referring to the Nadal incident. I didn’t make the connection because I didn’t see the events as very comparable. Nadal was penalised, but he did not then call the umpire a liar or a cheat, he made a pointless comment about not letting him umpire any of his matches. Which is not something in Nadal’s power.
You really want to mark me down for not chasing up vague references to twitter feeds?
If they really were that important I assume we have a link for them, or at least a quote.
But yes, I do tend not to speak in absolutes. Such as claiming a tennis umpire is the embodiment of evil for enforcing the rules of the game.
Who made the WTA God? And who in the article that the quote comes from agrees with them?
What part of women in WTA do you not understand? By your own admission, you know jacksquat about what exactly happened and yet spew forth knee-jerk judgements on Serena and others. Fuck that mansplaining white noise.
Go and reread the comments about Ramos above and get back to me about knee-jerk judgements.
The whole fucking thing was televised, that is how I know what happened.
The WTA is not the whole of tennis. It’s one opinion among many.
You guys can argue the toss with Martina.
@Brachiator: I generally agree with you in this line of argument but
That’s the only reason why people watch sports. The players are noteworthy because of their ability to perform well in the abstract game, with its abstract rules. Fans might chafe at the enforcement of those rules, but that’s a different story.
My take is that the uneven enforcement should be remedied by harsher rules enforcement on the men. It will never happen, though.
@SectionH:In fact, the current set of rules were put into place to deal with Johnny Mac’s BS & used to bounce him from a Slam semifinal.
@Viva BrisVegas: Can’t argue with dumb shits.
Maybe Mayhew should weigh in here as well, but I am a soccer referee with 100 professional (mainly minor league, but also some MLS and international) matches and over 1000 college games. I think anyone defending Serena doesn’t understand the huge line she crossed. Throwing a tantrum is one thing, but calling a referee a cheat is literally the n-word of refereeing, at least for me.
Tell me on the field that my call is fucking shit, or open my fucking eyes, etc., I may have a little chat with you. Maybe a yellow card depending on how the day is going.
Tell me on the field that I am a cheat or ask how much the other team is paying me, I will immediately stop the game, minimum yellow card, probable red card.
The first insult, even with the foul language to intensify it, is only telling me that the player thinks I made a mistake. Fair enough. I make plenty of those every game.
The second insult is accusing me of being intentionally corrupt and cheating for one team. I never do this.
Serena lost her shit because she thought that the referee was unfairly accusing her of cheating (when it probably was only her coach who was cheating) and then turns around and accuses the umpire of the same thing. The umpire didn’t lose his mind and start throwing rackets when being accused.
Not sure it was good refereeing, but it was appalling behavior by Serena.
Cheryl from Maryland
A referee’s job is not just to enforce the rules, it is to ensure a good game. Here’s the first rule of the Code of Ethics for football (soccer) referees: That I shall always maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer. Mr. Ramos showed his major concern is respect for himself. He had discretion (note Mr. Roddick’s comments about how a referee let him cool down). He didn’t use it — insulting Ms. Osaka, a Grand Slam final, Ms. Williams, and tennis fans like me who aren’t seeing enough articles on Ms. Osaka’s fabulous play.
Most of the clips from have heard from the men arguing have been profanity laced tirades about particular calls. For me that is inappropriate, but doesn’t really upset me as a referee much.
I find serena’s comments to the referee far more abusive and insulting even though they didn’t include profanity.
Another viewpoint, Serena’s coach was obviously and blatantly signaling her, and it sure looks like he was satisfied that she got the message. Imo that is beyond the usual more subtle coaching and will get called every time.
Serena is responsible for her coache’s actions courtside so the warning is her responsibility. The umpire did not lie and did not cheat. What happened after that is 100% on her.
What if Serena had received this coaching and gone on to win the match? Would that be fair to Osaka?
@Victor Matheson: In other words, it’s personal?
There’s been a lot of frustratingly bad analysis on this topic.
For instance, you’ve had multiple writers in national publications claim that players rarely lose a point for racket abuse…which misses the point entirely. Players don’t usually lose a point for it, because they usually don’t have a code violation when they vent their frustration by destroying their racket. They are almost always penalized, but the first code violation is a warning. After receiving a warning, players (especially the best players) almost always hold it together and avoid further code violations entirely to avoid taking a point penalty. So the analysis keeps missing the point and fueling the fire that Serena was treated unfairly.
I didn’t care for Serena declaring that she was treated unfairly because of sexism in this case because a) her argument delegitimized Osaka’s win, and b) let herself off the hook for her own behavior. While I think there is sexism in women’s tennis, I also don’t think Serena was unfairly punished here.
Her coach admitted to coaching; her argument during and after the match was she didn’t see it so it shouldn’t count. But that’s not the rule.
No one is arguing the racket abuse penalty; Serena was arguing during and after that they should have rescinded the earlier violation so she could have a free one. But that’s not how the rules work.
Regarding her haranguing of the umpire, she’s arguing that men say worse things and don’t get penalized, but that’s not really the issue here. She got the code violation for impugning the integrity of umpire and refusing the stop arguing about the call. Remember, she chewed the umpire out on a change over once without penalty…and then went back and revisited again and was already derailing the match. For those claiming she should have gotten a “soft warning” before taking the game penalty…what do you think allowing the first diatribe was? The umpire let her vent once (which is pretty normal if you don’t go crazy), and hit her with the penalty when she came back for more (notably after she’d dropped games).
I generally agree with Martina Navratilova, who knows a few things about bias and bias in women’s tennis.
You can’t argue at all.
Particularly when your argument consists of calling someone a “dumb shit”.
Seriously, go read Martina Navratilova in the NYT. You might learn something.
@SectionH: Exactly. All I could think about with this whole thing was McEnroe. His tantrums were legendary, did he ever suffer similar treatment? It seems to me it was quasi-celebrated.
There are more than a few comparable cases of what started this all where Ramos didn’t go down this route.
If you choose to ignore them, then that is in you.
For anyone else, search “has the empire been fired yet” on twitter. You’ll see a long string of tennis players verbally abusing, attacking the umpire chair, amongst other things with no code violations or game penalties in the harshest cases. But people will say “I’m just a stickler for the rules and so is Ramos” except those times he and other umpires weren’t. So ummm yeah. Totally fair and not inconsistent application of the rules.
Friends of mine were at the Open. The husband (white cisgender male FWIW) tweeted during the match that the Ramos was making the final all about himself.
In the era of the Internet, where references are literally a click or two away, you blatantly ignore any piece of information that doesn’t already support the narrative you started with. There are only so many times someone can respond with some version of “I don’t know”, while continuing to argue, before they get dismissed as not worth engaging with.
You may have a point with your argument but you’ve done jack-all to convince anyone.
@different-church-lady: Yes, Serena definitely made it personal.
But to be less sacartistic, anytime you have a rule that protects referees from insults, the interpretation of that rule is essentially by definition personal. I and most of the other soccer referees I know don’t take most of the arguing of calls personally and therefore don’t impose the harshest sanctions available to us. Calling us cheats is definitely personal.
And Serena went crazy after being called for a warning that literally carries no penalty at all. It was an official warning but carried no points, no games, nothing. It was only after she threw her racket to earn the second warning that she lost a point. Then she lost the game penalty after continuing with the verbal abuse.
And Victor? The game isn’t about you. If a player thinks you cheated if damn well want them to call you out on it in any game I watched. If there’s one thing I can’t stand in sports it’s refs who act like their ego is law. The game isn’t about you, and unless their comment escalates it’s on you to ig ore it and continue your job. Don’t make it personal, especially if you think you’re above criticism.
Should be “has the umpire been fired yet”
That coaching call at the US Open demonstrates the value that having rules against a behavior that nearly everyone participates in handy for those who like to target certain types of people.
It has given plenty of white guys the ability to say “well those are the rules” and to question whether women and black people are just making up their experiences of being unfairly targeted.
She called the umpire a liar and a thief. She questioned the umpire’s integrity. There are certain no-nos in sport, and one of them is questioning a ref’s integrity. In the NBA you can yell at a ref and say how can that be a foul, how can you make that call in this situation, etc. Unless you do it almost continually, you won’t get run. Try calling a ref a cheat, and you are gone immediately. At any level, no matter who you are.
And the bit about Carlos Ramos having a problem with a strong black woman, implying some sort of racial or gender bias? I think there is as much evidence for that as saying that Serena Williams has a problem with Hispanic males. Maybe we should look into her history.
Occams’s Razor here. Serena Williams has had some issues in the US Open before when faced with adversity. In 2009, she said this to a lineswoman after a foot fault call:
“I swear to God I’ll fucking take this ball and shove it down your fucking throat! Do you hear me? I swear to God.
You better be glad–you better be fucking glad that I’m not, I swear.”
In the 2011 US Open she said this to the umpire:
“If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way,” she said.
“Because you’re out of control. You’re out of control. Totally out of control. You’re a hater and you’re just … unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow. What a loser. You give a code violation because I expressed who I am? We’re in America last I checked.”
NO excuse for a professional to behave this way, doesn’t matter if she is GOAT. Try acting like an adult.
@Edmund dantes: I don’t have time to go through all of them but the ones I saw showed upset players whoDid not accuse the umpire of being a chest and a liar..
And others that made a big deal the the player received a violation But no point or game penalty.
Folks, the point/game penalty had nothing whatsoever to do with the specific violation. It is automatic depending on how many warnings a player receives.
Every player knows that – witness Dimitrov deliberately (and childishly) breaking a racquet to end a match because he knew it was his last offence.
Want a discussion about coaching? About sexism and disproportionate treatment by umpires? Fine.
Just don’t use this as an example.
That’s great that you don’t. There’s plenty of evidence that it happens in soccer (former collegiate player btw). Here’s one of the last major scandals in a major sport: 2007 NBA betting scandal. And he admitted to match fixing from approx 1994-2007. Hell, here’s an even bigger list about match fixing incidents with soccer having it’s own larger dedicated subsection of match fixing incidents.
The fact that you would potentially red card a player for mouthing off is fucking mind boggling.
No, it wasn’t. If you want appalling behavior go review when Luis Suárez bites Giorgio Chiellini. That’s fucking appalling behavior. The fact that he’s allowed to continue to play is appalling. Calling you a name is childish, but your reaction to it is a bigger indicator. The fact you wouldn’t pull aside the captains to tell them to get their shit under control means that you’re injecting yourself into the game. It also means you’ve typically lost control of the match.
It fits a pattern. Is it limited to refs? No, but you’re not immune.
You do realise that a woman of colour won the game.
Had Ramos ignored Serena’s infringments, how fair would that have been to Osaka?
Heck, go and look at that video capture in Twitter I posted. Even Venus is looking at the coach with a “dude, WTF” expression.
I feel like a lot of people have invested more in Serena Williams than she can support as an athlete. I remember being surprised to learn that she was a Jehovah’s Witness who puts a lot of emphasis on her faith as the reason she is successful. I read an article in which she told someone she never voted because her religion encouraged disengagement. I think that she has probably changed this view, but still, I just highlight that maybe we don’t really “know” Serena Williams.
Anyhow, I watched the match from start to ugly finish, and my view is that the original call was an eye roller, that she complained vigorously and the ump did listen to her without getting upset. Then she seemed to get motivated and broke Osaka’s serve. And then Osaka broke her back and Williams smashed the racket. It was after the racket smashing and the loss of the point that she took up the original coaching call again with the ump, and she seemed unable to let it go. Yes, he probably should have said something like, “I am giving you five more seconds and then you are going to lose the next game.” He didn’t. So for me, the bottom line is that Ramos made a silly call in line apparently with similar calls he has made against the giants of the game (Djokovic accused him of applying a double standard to him when he was playing Kei Nishikori), and Serena took it mostly in stride until she didn’t. I don’t think she would have been as upset as she was if she had been winning.
I don’t view her as a feminist icon and I hate it when people cite motherhood (her, myself, or fundamentalist preachers) as a reason or an excuse for anything. The crowd also irked me — all those celebrities who seemed to believe that they were attending a coronation and not a tennis match. Women’s tennis desperately needs players who can match Serena Williams’ caliber.
Lol at Venus catching what the coach’s signals with a perfect “WTF, dude, I hope you know what you’re doing” look.
Women’s sport in general has problems with the both race and gender, and their combination with issues of — not sure exactly how to put this — class or standards of behavior. The longer women have been participating in a sport, the worse this pattern is.
Both tennis and ice skating have standards that clearly show expectations that sportswomen will look and act in what society used to regard as “ladylike” ways, e.g. like Chris Evert back in the day. Ladies’ social purpose was to be decorations (attractive and useless): they demonstrated their men’s wealth and status, and were hence heterosexual (see accusations that successful sportswomen were/are lesbians). Ladies were also: white by definition, slim, pretty, graceful, soft-spoken and amateurish (never looked like they were working for a living). Billie Jean King was looked down on for class/wealth reasons and getting “angry”, for example, and Althea Gibson was despised for her color, and tried hard to look “right” for the sport.
If you look at ice skating, a lot of the criticism you hear of Serena in tennis was applied to another athlete of color: Suraya (sp?) Bonaly. She, too, was called ape-like, too strong, the wrong (unfeminine) body shape, ungraceful. She developed a back-flip move that seems to have been banned because she was the only woman who could do it (men do it). Like Serena, Bonaly didn’t look or act like a “lady”.
Serena’s a lightning rod for not only persisting misogynoir but because she is not now, and never will be, a lady. She is a woman, earning her living and living her life in her way.
This does not mean, of course, that she can’t lose her temper, like any human. An awful lot of comments above take Serena’s behavior very personally – as if your view of the issue says something about your quality as a person. Serena has enough to cope with already.
@BretH: Serena’s coach did her no favors by admitting that he had been coaching but that everyone does it — after Serena had said that she was not being coached. In fact, the Williams sisters have declined on court coaching even when it is permitted.
Jesus Christ. The excuses are mind-bending here. Well, at least it’s given me a good list of people whose opinions I can ignore on any topic.
1. Men don’t do back flips in ice skating competition. Surya Bonaly had other issues (it was well-known that she simply made up her routine on the ice, and people hated her mother, who was white), but yes, of course, race was in the mix of things that were held against her. They were not held against Debi Thomas, but the point is, it’s the combination of being black and flouting expectations of femininity.
2. Lindsay Davenport and Aurelie Mauresmo (to name two women) were criticized relentlessly for their body shape and appearance — in this, at least, the issue is with the number of people who feel they have a right to criticize the appearance of women, and not so much race.
Mostly, I think Williams should have used her clout as the best women’s tennis player in some other setting than a live match to go after what seems like — at best — inconsistent application of standards and rules for coaching and venting at the ump and — less charitably — reinforcing unfair and inegalitarian views on gender, class and race in the sport of tennis.
@Emma: Why don’t you say something that actually expresses a point of view about the subject?
@Barbara: so where are the threads and outrage over her sexist coach who insisted on sending her clear and obvious coaching when he knows she doesn’t want it and doesn’t need it?
@Barbara: I thought it was perfectly clear but let me try again. As a woman in her sixties who has held a job in one form or another since she was seventeen I am sick and tired of watching people, male and female, insist with a mealymouthed righteousness that, well, if the woman had just held her temper, everything would have been fine. Take the insults and the offenses with your head down. Make sure that no matter how much a man can get away with, you don’t put a toe out f line or we’ll punish you. No matter how good you are, we’ll take your accomplishments and maybe even your job away. And most of all I despise women who try to avoid the issue by colluding with the enemy.
@Barbara: I think this comment got eaten so may at some point show multiple times, but where is the outrage and anger directed at the sexist behavior of her coach, who insisted on sending clear and obvious coaching signals to Serena despite him knowing she does not use coaching and in any case doesn’t need it?
@BretH: Yeah, I agree, the coach was out of line both for coaching and then for acknowledging that he was coaching (after his employer said she didn’t see it) and then basically excusing himself by saying everybody does it when, hello, Serena Williams and her sister don’t use coaching even when they are allowed to. I don’t know what he was thinking.
@rachel: I understand what you’re saying, but it shouldn’t be on Serena and Naomi to sit it out.
Because apparently, having an opinion on a heated sports topic automatically validates our invalidates a commenters entire knowledge base?
@Emma: Yes, that’s clear. Just for the record, I am almost as old as you, and I did watch the match, and the thing is, Serena did complain pretty vociferously at the time of the call and the ump took it without imposing further penalty. In other words, he did let her vent, and that seemed to do her some good as she won the next game. So I would never say that it’s up to her or any other woman to just take something that seems unfair or wrong without pushing back. It’s what happened two games later that is really harder to defend, not because she was still mad at the original call, but that she got mad all over again because she lost the momentum she had gained by breaking Osaka. That’s where I find it harder to say that I would hope anyone would do what she did in response to the original call. The ump also should have maintained better control. There is no glory here for anyone IMO.
@Barbara: so it all happened because she lost her temper. Gotcha.
@Emma: What I am saying is that she dealt with the original call with the kind of forcefulness you would expect from a successful athlete who knows she has been pwned by the ump. I thought that was exactly what she should have done, and I agreed with her that the call was questionable. I just think that what happened later had more to do with the pressure of the moment, and the looming disappointment of not having something she really wanted, and that could have been handled better by both Williams and Ramos. I don’t see it as an all-important issue of inequality in the larger world.
Sorry for the appearance of piling on. Accident of timing.
1. You’re right, men do the back flip in exhibitions, not competition. I’ve seen it.
2. Glad we agree that Serena routinely gets criticized for not being/looking like what some authorities, sports writers and fans would prefer. I would call this a pretty little white lady, and you will call it what you prefer.
I think we part company there, however. I simultaneously regret that Serena lost her temper (because I’ve never been in a work situation where that helped) and feel unable to discount racism/sexism as a cause (and effect!) of the situation simply because Serena has been subjected to so much of it/them. If that muddies the moral waters, it was not Serena who threw the dirt in. Finally, Serena is a human, as well as the GOAT (intentional pun), which means that she will mess up from time to time, as humans do. Three(?) outbursts in a couple of decades doesn’t seem like a large enough number to be a defining characteristic. And the certainty that racists and sexists will use such outbursts to stoke their prejudices is on them, not her.
My personal take is that Ramos and Serena combined unfortunately to make a mess, which helped neither of them and detracted from Osaka’s excellent playing. Sad for everyone, really.
@msb: I concur totally in your last comment. She is GOAT in my view in women’s tennis, for the high caliber she has played for so long relative to other players. Graf was perhaps second GOAT, but retired earlier. I think what happened was really unfortunate, I don’t blame Williams because, duh, she’s human.
Since the USTA and the WTA seem to disagree with you, as do Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, I think I’m going with them.
(And when’s the last time a coaching violation was called in a Grand Slam final, men’s or women’s?)
@Viva BrisVegas: You seem to be deliberately missing the point here. I’m guessing you’re a man.
Please fuck the hell right off with this “she broke the rules, so it was OK to treat her like that” BS. Because *that particular ref* has a history of taking verbal abuse from men what he explicitly would not allow from a woman. Because this is part of a pattern of abuse that Serena Williams in particular, and women athletes in general, suffer from ALL THE DAMN TIME. Stop being the “voice of reason” excusing inexcusably petty, vengeful, sexist behavior. It’s not nearly as cute a look as you seem to think it is.
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I will say.
* I do refr works in a game and toss players for a lot less than what Willaims did. Breaking your own equipment, seriously? That’s the behavior of a nine year old boy and she is supposed to be a professional…
That being said.
* This childish tantrum crap is normally what guys do, women typically are passive aggressive when they are called. So it does make me wonder what else is going on with Williams; does she have a history with this Ref harassing her? Are people calling her thief off the court? Or is she doping testosterone to be more competitive and thus the guy like outburst?
The more I read about this, the more it’s clear that this was an inconsistent application of rules, something that the umpire of a championship match is paid to protect against. You had one job, dude.
Umpire should be fired and disbarred.
@Gex: Carlos Ramos also gave warnings to Djokovich and Nadal. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/sports/tennis/serena-williams-umpire-carlos-ramos-us-open.html
“Grand Slam tournaments have a penalty procedure in place for any violations of the coaching rules. A first offence is followed by a warning, a second offence by the deduction of a point and all subsequent offences by the deduction of a game. Ultimately, a player could be defaulted.
In the last five years 24 fines have been issued to male players at Grand Slam events for on-court coaching. Djokovic has been fined twice – at the 2011 Australian Open and 2013 US Open – but both occasions were before Becker joined his coaching team.
Rafael Nadal has also been fined twice for coaching over the same period. The Spaniard received the biggest coaching fine to be issued since 2010 when he was penalised $4,000 at last year’s Australian Open. Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet are among those who have also fallen foul of the rules.”
Yeah, this. This is a decent take.
I’ve watched a decent amount of tennis the last few years while working at home. Saw a lot of Serena’s matches two years ago when she almost won the slam. So I feel fine with saying this: Serena was getting a beatdown, lost her shit and cheapened the whole event.
At the same time, the umpire was an asshole. But, as a player, when you know the umpire is an asshole you check your shit accordingly. See Joe West and MLB.
All of these things can be true at the same time. It’s just a bit funny watching people focus SO much on the asshole umpire to the exclusion of the first point.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques: No one is talking about what you do when you ref your games. We are talking about the same umpire accepting certain behavior from men (see info about Nadal threatening him in the WaPo excerpt Anne Laurie posted) that he wouldn’t accept from Serena. Inconsistency in the same referee which the WTA suspects is due to sexism.
As I posted a few days ago, Serena is the most drug-tested tennis athlete (which is interesting to me because the implication to my mind is that there’s an assumption that she’s cheating). She knows this. I will ignore your testosterone doping comment for the obvious trolling attempt that it is.
Naomi has beaten Serena before (at the Miami Open earlier this year). There was no weird refereeing and the reason most don’t know that their previous match-up ended up with Naomi Osaka winning was no Carlos Ramos to mess things up with his ego.
@khead: Why didn’t Serena Williams have a meltdown when Naomi Ōsaka beat her in March 2018 at the Miami Open? Take your time.
@BretH: And yet the WTA disagrees with you that the rules are applied consistently and fairly.
Lol. Because it was the Miami Open. Thank you, I’ll be here all day.
@khead: Yeah, that’s just a dumb take by Felanius. I thought that your basic idea that there is clearly a lot of fault to be spread around here is absolutely correct.
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@Felanius Kootea:If you and the rest of you can’t see the problem with someone engaging in violent destructive behavior over a disagreement, then you all just utterly hopeless and not worth a decent person’s time.
@Felanius Kootea: That’s easy. It wasn’t a tournament that would make her tied for the most grand slams ever won by a person in the modern era. She is allowed to be a human being who REALLY WANTS something and to get majorly disappointed when she sees it slipping away. Not Serena the icon but Serena the intense competitor that she has to be to be as successful as she is. Which doesn’t mean that Ramos didn’t screw up.
J R in WV
Carlos shows his misogyny (combined with racism) in front of a world-wide audience, and should never umpire/referee another tennis match. I don’t play or watch much tennis, nearly as boring as golf to watch, but this was so, so obvious.
The WTA should just ask all members to respectfully decline to play in front of the SOB — see how that works for him.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
Do your panties get into this much of a twist every time a male tennis player smashes his racket?
I cut the actual players a little more slack for their behavior than the guy sitting on a chair watching them play since the actual players are full of adrenaline. This referee acted like a typical cop — once his fee-fees were hurt, he wanted revenge for being “disrespected.”
You have to take into account how Serena has been treated for a very long time. She’s dope texted more often then any other tennis player. And has me weed failed a test. People, because of her apparence constantly say she’s cheating. She’s been fighting the cheater label for forever.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques: Seriously? IS SHE DOPING?!! She gets tested constantly. She has to deal with racist, sexist comments on every fucking thing since she hit womanhood. God, fuck you
And the rest of you talking about how childish she is, yeah, you’re disappointing too.
My husband is a tennis EXPERT (or so he claims) and he says Serena was treated unfairly.
It isn’t the rules. It’s the inequitable and inconsistent application of the rules. Have to be consistent or it’s not fair, and that raises the issue of bias. Simple as that.
He played the tape for me of the end of the incident and Serena says (I think) “you know my character”
I was interested in that- why she said it, what it means.
@Kay: My take based on what I have learned about Ramos is that he is someone who bends over backwards to show players that he is not playing favorites just because someone is an elite champion but that in doing so he actually applies the rules inconsistently to those same champions. That’s what Djokovic basically accused him of when he was playing Kei Nishikori. I don’t think umps should consciously apply the rules asymmetrically regardless of who is playing. He got caught doing this to Serena Williams on the coaching call, and everything else flowed from that. My understanding on the racket smashing is that the penalty is virtually automatic if the racket cannot be used again. The way out of it is to use the racket again and then switch. I don’t think that was an option for Williams if you saw the condition of the racket after she smashed it.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques: Yes, ignoring sexism and unfairness in the same umpire makes you the moral arbiter of who a decent person is. Get out of here with that bullshit. You don’t have the credibility for me to take that statement seriously.
This entire mess runs the gamut of professional sports bullshit. By that I mean that the ref is very unprofessional and that led to a participant doing something that she shouldn’t have done, but which is easily understood, given the ref. At his level their is no room for this type of bullshit. But of course he’s going to man up and make it worse, which is exactly what he did. Someone up thread made the point that he had to make it all about him. The number one rule in sports as an official, is that the sport is never ever about the officials. Never, fucking ever.
This was one of the very first and last things I learned, working in pro sports. The competitors are the sport, the officials though, make it or break it. And breaking it is not an option.
@jml: “a) her argument delegitimized Osaka’s win”
Only if you can’t hold two thoughts in your head at once. Let me help:
– Serena Williams has received an absolute ocean of racist and sexist about over her entire career, and has had her behavior on and off the court policed to a degree never before seen in the sport. While Ramos’ behavior on Saturday was far from the most egregious slight, she is demonstrably correct that the men receive far less consequential penalties for similar or worse conduct; it is nearly impossible to imagine, say, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray receiving a game penalty in a grand slam championship match, despite their lengthy record of going hard at refs on the biggest stages and in profane fashion. For the nearest there exists as a comp, look no further than Federer’s coarse and protracted meltdown during the same match (US Open championship stage) in 2009. [Note also: Federer’s beef in that moment was that Del Potro was receiving coaching from his box, which he clearly was! Despite this, nether Fed NOR Delpo was sanctioned, never mind being penalized an entire game in the decisive set. Hmm.]
2. Osaka is the undisputed 2019 US Open champion.
Done and done!
@Ruckus: That particular ref has a reputation as a stickler for the rules. He has made the same calls when refereeing men’s matches as well. He called her coach for coaching and her coach admits that he was doing that. Calling a coach for coaching is not in any way impugning the player’s honesty because it’s on the coach. Some refs are stricter than others which leads to uneven application of the rules, but which is normal in every sport. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the stricter ref is a racist/sexist POS, as long as he applies the rules equally. Because there were no rules to govern John McEnroe’s behavior in the 80s, it doesn’t necessarily follow that women get a pass to behave the same way in the 2010s to even things up. Life doesn’t work that way.
I’m a women. I’ve been the victim of sexism my whole life. I’ve also been chewed out for my real mistakes. The two things are not the same. Honestly, there have been times that I’ve gotten away with stuff because I am a woman which was neither right nor evened things out.
@Viva BrisVegas: Every sports pro knows that the officials are part of the game. You don’t get to over-rule them and you don’t abuse or try to intimidate them. They sometimes make mistakes or calls you would prefer they didn’t, but you have to accept that and play on. Unless you know with certainty that they’re corrupt, you accept that they are acting honestly and in good faith, even when they’re mistaken on a factual matter.
I see no mistakes being made by the umpire, just the enforcement of rules that Serena Williams didn’t want enforced. The fact that she dragged her child into it strongly suggests to me that she was trying to manipulate him.
@Viva BrisVegas: Sure. You have no idea what you’re talking about, as you have admitted, but the condemnations of Ramos by the WTA and USTA are not enough for you to accept that the judge was selectively enforcing the rules. The first call had nothing to do with gameplay or on-court activity. The other calls were quite obviously the judge trying to assert his authority over the (black, female) player. The same judge has been lenient with (white, male) players in the past over similar infractions. The violations that incurred point and game penalties would likely never have happened had the judge not unreasonably inserted himself into the match. The game penalty was particularly egregious given the circumstances. Ramos should not be allowed to judge a championship again. You should learn the facts before you make yourself look like a racist and/or misogynistic tool.
@John: The only reason Viva could have a different perspective is if he/she is a bigot: is that about the size of it?
Thanks for sharing your knowledge of the sport. I really appreciate it.
@khead: Thanks to both you and Barbara for the posts here. I co-sign each of them. I’m not sure why but it seems difficult for some to characterize what happened in this match as being more nuanced than one side was totally in the right and the other side is a worthless p.o.s. subhuman. Or to look at this one incident as one incident, informed by our knowledge of the past and precedence, but not a continuation of the dumb French Open officials’ stance on Serena’s post-maternity outfit or the entire history of everything. Not enough lawyers on here today, maybe. :^) Or more likely some are coming at this with some baggage.
We can believe both that Ramos may have some regrettably old school, not totally enlightened, sexist thought that drove his behavior Saturday, and that the particular circumstances as they played out somewhat tied his hands after the ball got rolling. That does not make him history’s greatest monster. Nor does it excuse Serena’s outburst. I still had to discuss with my young tennis player kids that petulantly smashing your racquet and accusing an official of having it in for you right there on the court is not appropriate behavior. To say that, yeah, Ramos could have done better but let’s not call for his head does not equal dismissing every incident of uneven treatment ever and make one a staunch defender of the patriarchy or something.
Similarly, criticizing Serena for not acting like an adult in the moment does not mean that we think either (a) she’s history’s greatest monster, or (b) that Ramos is totally blameless. She’s overcome a lot to get where she is, but she’s also not some outcast met only with unrelenting resentment and resistance from the powers that be. Her return to the top after giving birth has been widely celebrated and awed at.
I saw ads featuring Serena at least 50 times during this Open. Her popularity as a sports icon and marketing asset eclipses that of any prior woman in tennis, by a long shot. On the other hand, she did once threaten to shove a tennis ball down a ref’s throat. She’s no angel. She’s a human being, on the correct side of the ledger when it’s all added up, but that doesn’t mean she can’t occasionally be deemed the party in the wrong.
I agree with Martina Navratilova’s measured take on this: both sides could and should have acted differently, the things Serena’s had to deal with throughout her life doesn’t excuse her actions, differing standards or expectations for women and men throughout tennis history won’t be erased overnight, and in any event it’s not the end of the fucking world either way. No one was covered in glory here, but they’re not Hitler, either.
@John: Not sure why, but I’ll bite.
“The first call had nothing to do with gameplay or on-court activity.”
I’m not sure what the point of that statement is. Most code violations don’t involve gameplay, and changeover tirades are not on-court activity. The rulebook’s pretty clear that a player is responsible for their coach/entourage box’s behavior, and warnings for coaching are called all the time, on men and women of all races.
“The other calls were quite obviously the judge trying to assert his authority over the (black, female) player.”
I’d suggest you may be reading a touch too much into this. Serena herself was quoted after the match saying that she’s never had any issue with Ramos, at all, in the past. And “quite obviously?” Did he holler and puff out his chest like a threatened silverback? Yell out racial epithets or tell her she should know her place? No. She was making a spectacle of the U.S. Open Final, he miscalculated on how to de-escalate it before it got out of hand, which backfired as he became part of the spectacle himself. Based on human nature and people’s desire to keep their jobs, I doubt very much that coming off as the heavy is what he actually wanted to occur.
“The same judge has been lenient with (white, male) players in the past over similar infractions.”
This appears, on further inspection, to be somewhat inaccurate, at least with regard to the sexism charge, as Barbara and others (and Chris Evert) have pointed out. Check the FTFNYT article from Sunday. If anything, he’s shown a pattern of overcompensating by bearing down on highly ranked players more than others. Usually, they’ve not already been docked a point or even a first code violation warning when they go off verbally, so the fact that they’re not getting game penalties is not really analogous.
“The violations that incurred point and game penalties would likely never have happened had the judge not unreasonably inserted himself into the match.”
Arguably so, if the point is that the (in my not so humble opinion) egregious coaching violation shouldn’t have been noted. Nevertheless, who committed those other violations? Were they accidents? Side note – you are aware of the sex and racial identity of the coach in the box who was singled out here, I assume.
“The game penalty was particularly egregious given the circumstances.”
Is not doing that what you’re claiming to be “particularly egregious,” or is it the severity of the game penalty? Because the severity’s not discretionary – third violation is a one game penalty, period. As others have noted, yes, he probably should have said “Hey, Serena, you need to chill because you’re sitting on 2 violations already and I really don’t want to have to dock you a full game. I’d be happy to discuss my integrity or lack thereof in a more appropriate forum.” I think reasonable minds can differ, however, on whether that’s egregious or not.
“You should learn the facts before you make yourself look like a racist and/or misogynistic tool.”
Insert chin stroking emoji.
@MCA1: We’ll just have to agree to disagree agreeably :). That about cover it?
An athlete who questions the integrity of an official in any sport is in for a world of problems. As far as sexism, I’m seeing a player go after an Hispanic official. Maybe there was some racism going on there on her part.
Maybe Ramos wanted to nip this in the bud before she started threatening officials as she has done twice in past US Opens, including threatening to shove a ball down a lineswoman’s throat in 2009.
BTW, why stop at accusing Ramos of sexism, why not go all in and say he was racist too, since apparently you can read his fucking mind.
I have an 8 year old granddaughter and she plays soccer. She would catch hell from her parents if she ever accused a referee of being a thief and a liar. Why is it okay for a grown woman to do it
@smintheus: Apparently if you don’t take the side of Serena William. you are a bigot. Could Ramos have done more to de-escalate the situation? Probably, but maybe he he didn’t remember Williams’ past history of abusing US Open officials (her tovert threats in 2009 and 2011). The playing of the sexism and racism card is bs; Ramos is Hispanic and has probably faced racism of his own.
@J R in WV: Carlos shows his misogyny (combined with racism) in front of a world-wide audience, and should never umpire/referee another tennis match.
Are you fucking serious? You actually believe that match shows Carlos Ramos to be a racist and a sexist. Based on what? Your observations over the years of his abhorrent behavior to women and people of color. You might as well accuse Williams of attacking Ramos’ integrity because he is Hispanic. Racism/sexism is horrible, so are unfounded accusations of racism/sexism, and people who knowingly make such accusations are garbage.
@SenyorDave: She berated the ump publicly for being crooked (“thief”). There’s the scandal. There’s no scandal whatever in the fact that an official responded within the rules to penalize such an accusation.
It is disappointing but not surprising how many commenters (many of whom have clearly male handles) who are willing to hold up Martina’s OpEd as clear evidence they are right while ignoring the massive body of evidence provided in the OP (including from famous tennis players, if that is your thing) that argues they are very wrong. Also, too, this “Serena is racist” bs is just gross.
I have been watching professional tennis for more than 50 years. It is without a doubt the most sexist sport played. While Billy Jean got the prize money equalled, it was done very begrudgingly and still retains its sexism everywhere else in the sport. INHO, Ramos should never do a championship for a women’s title again–or maybe any women’s games. The referee/umpire should never insert him/herself into the game. But, Ramos made sure it was all about him. I don’t really care if I ever see him officiating another game.
This is fascinating: apparently the officials have at least considered boycotting her matches. Have the officials boycott on the one hand and the players who stand with her boycott in the other. I have my suspicions about who would win that fight.
@Bonnie: I don’t think tennis is the most sexist sport, but the gender bias is more obvious because it is the only sport I can think of in which women have successfully managed to compete professionally in the same venue and at the same time as men, often using the same umpires and referees. They even have mixed doubles brackets. No other sport — soccer or basketball — that is played by both genders at a professional level gives someone such an obvious basis for comparing how an ump treats men and women differently.