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News > Sport

Serena Williams Accuses Umpire of Sexism in US Open Finals

  • Serena Williams of the USA argues with tournament referee Brian Earley while playing Naomi Osaka of Japan in the women’s final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open.

    Serena Williams of the USA argues with tournament referee Brian Earley while playing Naomi Osaka of Japan in the women’s final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 September 2018

The tennis star accused an umpire of sexism and treating her more harshly than men during the 2018 US Open finals.

The 23-times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, during the finals on Saturday, received three code violations from official Carlos Ramos during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka. She received a code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “liar” and a “thief” which cost her a game.


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“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” Williams said at a media conference post-match. “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 take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. 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.”

Victoria Azarenka, two times Australia Open Champion and two times US Open runner-up seconded William and wrote on Twitter that if it was a man’s match, the penalties would not have happened.

During the game, Willaims pleaded her case on the court with tournament referee Brian Earley calling the penalties unfair. She said, “Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?”

The issues began when Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou made a hand gesture towards her in the second set. The player denied that she was receiving any kind of coaching, saying that she would "never cheat to win and would rather lose", and demanded an apology from the umpire Carlos Ramos. Mouratoglou later admitted to coaching but added, “I don’t think she looked at me.”

When Williams received another code violation for smashing her racquet due to which Osaka was awarded a point, she became furious and described Ramos as a liar and thief for awarding Osaka a point.

Williams later commented, "I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, that wants to express themselves and wants to be a strong woman. They're going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn't work out for me, but it's going to work out for the next person."

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the United States Tennis Association said it was fining Serena Williams US$17,000 for the alleged code violations she received during the U.S. Open final.

The tournament referee's office fined the former world number one US$10,000 for the "verbal abuse" of Ramos, $4,000 for being warned for coaching and $3,000 for smashing her racket.

But support continued pouring in as Billie Jean King, who won 12 grand slam singles title and helped found women's tennis court and campaigned for equal prize money in the sport also supported Williams.

King wrote on Twitter, “Several things went very wrong during the US Open women’s finals today. Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.”

She also commented on Williams emotional outburst and wrote that when a woman shows emotion, she is called “hysterical” but for men, the term changes to “outspoken” and the men get away without any repercussions.

The accusations by Williams brought forth various recent examples of how tennis has treated women differently.

For example, prior to US Open, the French tennis federation president said the black catsuit worn by Williams in this year’s French Open would not be allowed at the tournament in future.

Alize Cornet, a female player was incorrectly penalized by an umpire for changing her shirt during a match in the US Open. Change of shirt is allowed during a match and men do it all the time. 

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