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  • Serena Williams of the USA argues with chair umpire in New York.

    Serena Williams of the USA argues with chair umpire in New York. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 September 2018

Williams was one of the two women punished on the court for coaching, along with Dominika Cibulkova from Slovakia, while no men were punished for the same offense.

Women’s Tennis Association, the governing body for women’s tennis, backed Serena Williams over her claims of sexism by umpire Carlos Ramos during the U.S. Open Finals on Saturday.

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Serena Williams Accuses Umpire of Sexism in US Open Finals

The 23-time grand slam singles champion was cited by Ramos for three code violations, one for being coached during the match, a second for smashing her racquet and a third for calling the umpire a liar and a thief stealing the game from her. Williams was also fined US$17,000 for the supposed code violations.

Commenting on the events taking place at the final, CEO for the WTA Steve Simon, seconding Serena’s claim, released a statement on Sunday saying, "The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done last night."

Katrina Adams, the head of United States Tennis Association (USTA) which organizes the U.S. Open also supported Williams. She said, men "are badgering the umpire on the changeovers and nothing happens. We watch the guys do this all the time. There's no equality when it comes to what the men are doing to the chair umpires and what the women are doing, and I think there has to be some consistency across the board.”

BBC tennis presenter Sue Barker expressed similar sentiments while saying, "I've sat courtside watching the men ranting at umpires and they haven't been given a violation."

Another major debate arising post-U.S. Open Finals is the issue of coaching during a game. Williams was given a code violation for coaching when Patrick Mouratoglou, her coach, signaled tactics to her from the stands. He accepted the charge later but added that he didn't think Williams looked at her.

Commenting on the coaching issue, Simon said, "We also think the issue of coaching needs to be addressed and should be allowed across the sport. The WTA supports coaching through its on-court coaching rule, but further review is needed."

Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka, commenting on the coaching issue, said it bothers her to have inconsistent rules.

"Why is there so much difference? I don't get that. There has to be a clear rule to it. If it happened in the men's match, it would not happen again. That is the problem. It is the inconsistency,” said Azarenka in a live video on her Instagram page.

Novak Djokovic while empathizing with Serena said that he does not agree with Simon’s comment on sexism. According to him, treatment towards players varies according to the situation and a blanket generalization is hard.

Though he agreed that “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. We all go through our emotions, especially when you're fighting for a grand slam trophy.”

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