Serena Williams: For Me To Say ‘Thief’ And The Umpire To Then Take A Game From Me Felt Sexist
by Tom Gainey | September 8th, 2018, 11:38 pm
  • 45 Comments

It started as a shocking one-sided US open women’s final Saturday as the 20-year-old upstart Naomi Osaka was having her way with Serena Williams, leading by a set 62. Then in the third game thigs escalated quickly after Serena as called for a coaching violation. Then losing a break lead she smashed her racquet prompting a second code violation which now brought with it a point penalty.

It all went to hell minutes later on the 4-3 changeover when chair umpire Carlos Ramos hit Serena with a verbal abuse penalty which after the first two infractions carried a game penalty. Serena was seen barking at the chair ump, calling him a thief for taking the point away earlier.

For the second time this summer Serena was trying to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slams. She fell short of that and fell into a swirl of controversy.

Serena met the media after, and tried to take avoid going deep into the incident until the very end.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What are the emotions? Obviously a difficult night for you. Talk about how you’re feeling.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know how I’m feeling yet. Haven’t had time to really process everything. But I’m just trying, like I said out there, to stay positive and to, you know, look at all the bright things and all the good things and just keep going forward with that.

Q. How did motherhood influence how you comforted Naomi today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I felt at one point bad because I’m crying and she’s crying. You know, she just won. I’m not sure if they were happy tears or they were just sad tears because of the moment. I felt like, Wow, this isn’t how I felt when I won my first Grand Slam. I was like, Wow, I definitely don’t want her to feel like that.

Yeah, maybe it was the mom in me that was like, Listen, we got to pull ourselves together here (laughter).

Q. You were very graceful at the end to not mention what happened before. Patrick Mouratoglou say that he gave you some sort of advice when you got the warning for coaching. So did you understand that? You didn’t realize?

SERENA WILLIAMS: So, I don’t know. I literally just heard that, too, when they prepped me to come in. I just texted Patrick, like, What is he talking about? Because we don’t have signals. We have never discussed signals. I don’t even call for on-court coaching.

I’m trying to figure out why he would say that. I don’t understand — I mean, maybe he said, You can do it.

I was on the far other end, so I’m not sure. I want to clarify myself what he’s talking about.

Q. The umpire had to give you the warning?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because I wasn’t being coached. If I look at my box and they say, C’mon, or, Good job, I don’t know what else to do. After that I didn’t even look at my box anymore.

Q. You talked about teachable moments. When Alexis is old enough, how will you explain to her what happened out there tonight?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don’t know if she’ll bring it up, to be honest. Is she going to be like, Mom, what happened in the 2018 US Open?

I’m going to be like…

First of all, I’m going to have to think, Okay, 2018, which one was that one?

Q. In all likelihood she’ll see it somewhere along the way.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You think?

Q. What will you say to her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I’ll tell her, first of all, if she sees it, that, you know, I stood up for what I believed in. I stood up for what was right. Sometimes things in life don’t happen the way we want them, but to always stay gracious and stay humble. I think that’s the lesson we can all learn from this, just like I did.

Q. Do you have any previous history with Carlos Ramos in the chair?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not at all. He’s always been a great umpire.

Q. You mentioned how at this tournament something always seems to come up. When that was happening out there, were you flashing back to 2009? Does it bring up more things, piling on?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think, yeah, that’s hard for me. You know, I think it’s just instantly, just like, Oh, gosh, I don’t want to go back to 2004. Forget 2009, you know. It started way back then.

So it’s always something. But that’s also kind of, like, this game mentally that you have to play with. You know, sometimes it might seem like things always happen, but I don’t know the word I’m looking for. You just kind of have to, like, try to realize that it’s coincidence. Maybe it’s coincidence, so…

Q. Under the rules, all three violations issued by Carlos were correct. So why do you believe that he’s a thief?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Because he took a point from me. He alleged that I was cheating, and I wasn’t cheating. Then I had a good conversation with him. I said, Listen, you know my character. You know me really well. Like you know that I don’t even call for on-court coach. I don’t even do that.

He’s like, You know what? I understand. I don’t know if he said, You’re right. But he understood. He’s, like, Yeah, I get what you’re saying.

Then when I sat down, I said it again. I was, like, Just to be clear, I can understand what you saw because it may have looked — just because I look at my box, it may have looked like I was getting coaching, but I’m telling you, that’s not what I do. I said, I’d rather lose than have to cheat to win. I don’t need to cheat to win. I’ve won enough. That’s never been something I’ve ever done, you know.

And he was cool. He was like, Oh, I get it. We had this great exchange. We were on the same page. We understood each other, and I felt that that was — yeah.

Q. Do you think the chair umpire played any part in any outcome of tonight’s match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think that’s a really good question. I don’t know. I feel like she was playing really well, but I feel like I really needed to do a lot to change in that match to try to come out front, to try to come out on top.

It’s hard to say because I always fight till the end and I always try to come back, no matter what. But she was also playing really, really well. It’s hard to say that I wouldn’t have got a new level, because I’ve done it so many times in my career. So it’s a tough question.

Q. What do you think the policy should be on coaching during the match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t use it. I don’t use on-court coaching. I understand they’re using it in qualifying here. They tried it out in qualifying here.

Would I use it? I don’t know. One thing I love about tennis is being out there. It’s the one time I don’t want to hear anyone tell me anything. You have to figure out. You have to problem-solve.

Honestly, I feel like it’s helped me out a lot in my life. A lot of things I go through in my life personally, and also in business, you have to be able to problem-solve.

One thing about tennis, I feel like sometimes when I’m out there, I have a split second, nanosecond, to make a decision that could change the whole match and the whole tournament. I’ve really applied that into a lot of things in my life. I know it sounds weird, but it’s my moment of peace when I’m out on the court where I don’t hear anyone, I don’t need it, I just try to problem-solve on myself.

I don’t know if I would use it if it was brought out in the future. I don’t currently use it, so I don’t know.

Q. Was there something in Naomi’s game that maybe you weren’t expecting?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel like she was really, really consistent. I think her game is always super consistent. I felt like she played really well.

Like I said, she made a lot of shots. She was so focused. I think, you know, whenever I had a breakpoint, she came up with some great serve. Honestly, there’s a lot I can learn from her from this match. I hope to learn a lot from that.

Q. Obviously it’s her first Grand Slam title. Do you think it’s a shame that all this happened, the drama happened, with all the booing and everything from the crowd? It’s a very difficult thing, isn’t it, for her to go through, as well?

SERENA WILLIAMS: That’s what I said. That’s why I was, I don’t want to answer the questions. This is her moment. Stop booing because she doesn’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. The people on the tennis court didn’t deserve it. They were all here to see tennis.

She played an amazing match. She deserved credit, she deserved to win. At the end of the day, that’s what it was.

Q. We can never really go back. If you could change one thing about what occurred, what would that be?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. You definitely can’t go back in time. I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief, because I thought he took a game from me.

But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. 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 and to fight for us to have equal — like Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous.

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 want to express themselves, and want 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.


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45 Comments for Serena Williams: For Me To Say ‘Thief’ And The Umpire To Then Take A Game From Me Felt Sexist

chofer Says:

It’s not sexist, Serena. The ump overachieved with the penalty game and YOU overreacted to the point of embarrasing yourself in front of millions.

American broadcasters may not see it this way. The rest of the world does. Just check the headlines and opinions of non-american tennis celebrities. I heard, afterwards, Evert’s and Mary Joe’s comments and I couldn’t believe the lack of critic. It’s comprehensible: Serena it’s where money goes. So true but also so pathetic.


Van Persie Says:

Calling somebody publicly a thief (by male or female), without evidence can lead to a criminal record in many countries, as defamation.
So Evert is an idiot again. For using the word “f*uck*” you cannot get a criminal record.


Van Persie Says:

So hope Ramos asks for a public apology or he can sue Serena. He did nothing ilegal.


skeezer Says:

And the hatred continues. Fellow professional tennis players who actually play tennis for a living and other professional athletes react:
https://ftw.usatoday.com/2018/09/serena-williams-naomi-osaka-us-open-tennis-players-athletes-react-chair-umpire-dispute-controversy
—-
By the way, this is the same ump that let Unc Toni on court coach all time with Rafa. Did he cheat to get Slams?


skeezer Says:

“And the hatred continues”
Here at tennis x….


Margot Says:

Whatever you feel about Serena’s behaviour, you can’t possibly deny that Ramos was heavy handed and escalated the situation. To dock someone a game in grand slam final is just beyond belief. Has it ever happened? Inconsistency with rules being applied, or not applied, between matches/tournaments/players is a real problem. Incidentally Andy has had a similar issue with Ramos getting on his high horse and Andy saying something like, “well if you want to make this all about you….”


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

The one who escalated the situation was Serena. My pov and sticking to it. Am old enough to analyse some situations. Do not need Andy or BS media for it.


Mystic - Willow Says:

Agree with Margot ….


Wog Boy Says:

Posted on the wrong thread:
No much sympathy for The Bully on the evening news, some of the words “lost with a lack of grace” “ leaving her legacy in tatters”…but I guess they are haters on Channel 9, no?
General reaction on TV and public is even worse (they are all haters), she (not Ramos) basically ruined the greatest moment in Osaka’s life by instigating crowd to boo her with her behavior, she should be ashamed.


Wog Boy Says:

Just to add, Serena was owned by Osaka until that moment, her reaction was out of frustration for being thoroughly outplayed and hopping she might disrupt Osaka’s rhythm, didn’t work.


Margot Says:

VP: Would you agree that tennis “rules” are not enforced consistently? What is OK in one match eg smashing a racquet is overlooked, in another a penalty given, coaching in one match is overlooked, a warning given in another. In the Andy example I gave, Andy was given a penalty because he dropped the ball while starting to serve and was judged to have been “too slow.” As he said, he’d “never heard of a penalty being given for that before.” This pre dates stop clocks. Umpires are as biased as the rest of us and can act more harshly with one player than another.


Daniel Says:

Agree ref umpire. Not consitant.

She could act different? Yes, but Grand Slam final, which you are alteady losing and the umoire do somethinglike that to nail tge coffin os hard to judge how to behave.

This is precsile the monents you lose your s.. conpletllely. Men have done it in tennos for way worse.

Would imagine how Fed, Nadal or Djoko would behave if they had lost a game?! Never even see tham losing point sbut when they got warning they complain.

Other head case like Kyrgios, Fognini would do way worse. Men also curse more and hard tk control. So idnerstand she also feeling patronized.

I think under what happen and where / how it happen her behavior in the heat of the monet was justified. It shadowed Osaka’s win but it would haopen regardless of she stay calm because crowd will feel he lsot due to it also. The taking of a game felt a robery for average tennis audeinces in the crowd.
The minute it happen, it already damage Osaka’s win.

If Serena was mure and lost all points visiblt mentally damage it would take away from osaka’s win.

Bottom line, bad judging and inconsitant ruling in the biggest match possible damaged the show.

Serena at least behave to control crown after. She could have done a Hingis RG 1999 and got off coirr or stay mute. She thiught of Osaka and gave full credit to her.


chofer Says:

skeezer

I’m the opposite of “hatred”. It was embarrasing to see her so mad. And I already told the ump overachieve with a rule almost nobody applies. So the fault is on both.

But I’m in the mionority here thinking the athletes are the real actors here?


Madmax Says:

This is the reporter’s view on this, he was at the match and reported on this. Even Serena’s coach admitted he was coaching her! Ooohhh, Serena was well out of order here. A real disgrace.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/sep/09/serena-williams-accuses-officials-of-sexism-and-vows-to-fight-for-women

Serena should not bring in this histrionics to the match. A really bad example. It has no place in sport, at this level, but all of our tennis players have reacted in anger, from Murray to Nadal, Novak to Fed, and so on.

And she has been here once before:

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SPORT/11/30/tennis.serena.wta.fine/index.html


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

I did read, Ramos is always harsh. He was always with Djoko, Andy and others on tour. Serena kept playing the sexist card and there was not the case.

Had she stopped raving and bullying the umpire after 2nd warning, it would have not come to this.
Same umpire took one poit from Djoko in 2017 or 2016 at FO, and Djoko did not make such a show on court because of that.

Serena knew this umpire likes to “play” by the book.


Madmax Says:

Tell me TX’rs, is it because she was a woman? Is that her argument? I would really like someone here to explain to me whether her response that she was a woman is the right angle she should have taken?


Wog Boy Says:

This is through the eyes of former chair umpire who docked MacEnroe a game and was ATP Vice President in respected The Sydney Morning Herald…but what does he know, he is just another hater:

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/amp.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/it-is-serena-williams-who-owes-an-apology-to-umpire-carlos-ramos-20180909-p502q2.html


Margot Says:

VP: I actually felt sorry for her…..*ducks hastily ;)* it was sad to see her tearful and so out of control. I think 1) its been so incredibly hard for her to come back after illness/child birth 2) she must be putting massive pressure on herself to top that grand slam record and she may be coming to terms that she never will 3) did she see the future there on that court and it wasn’t her? Ramos was a d***. There are many women and many men who would’ve made a much better job of umpiring that match. Why Mohammed would’ve been out of his chair like a shot and given her a calming hug. :)


SG1 Says:

Mouratoglou’s coaching was blatantly obvious and the umpire was on it like white on rice. We’re now going vilify the umpire for doing his job? This is all on Serena and her team. If you’re going to cheat, do a better job of cheating. I’ve never seen a video with uncle Toni or Marian vajda or Ivan ljubicic so clearly telling their charge what to do.

Here’s the other thing that bothered me even more. Mouratoglu admitted to coaching. Serena argued to the point of stupidity that she never gets coaching and never cheats. Someone is lying here. If history has taught us anything, don’t ever believe the athlete denying the accusations. To then turn it around and try to destroy destroy the reputation of the umpire is pathetic and sad. It’s you and your teams screw up. Own it!


chofer Says:

Madmax

Agree. Imagine Roger, Novak or Rafa in that situation. Shouting in a high profile final to an umpire whom I admit overblown a rule that exists but nobody pays too much attention to.

The things all partisans would be saying of them, not to mention women partisans. I’m frankly sick and tired of the sexist card.
America lives a very touchy issue with mistreatment of woman in the workplace and the things has been overblown to the point everyone mixes evrything. I think Ramos was wrong in gave her that penalty game. HE WAS WRONG, NOT SEXIST. Can’t you see the difference?

A bad behaviour has no gender. A woman umpire could have made that mistake, too. Why not? The umpire ignited this, but the one who was behaving badly was Serena. Why is that so difficult to see? And that was not the first offense for her.

On the other hand, Naomi… what an extraordinary way to manhandle the situatuion.


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

I respect your opinion and it is already admirable, that Serena played in 2 finals this year after child birth.
On the other hand, as mother, Serena should have felt a bit for Osaka’s mother, who watched her child playing the first GS final of her life and keeping a bit quiet with the umpire.
I am sure, Naomi’s mother must have been devastated to hear that booing during 2nd set. I really felt for her.


Van Persie Says:

And no, Serena is not genuinly fighting for women rights, it is about her being in the spot light! She will be as ridiculous as Court(sorry WB) with the raving. Except: Court really believes in what she says, so a bit of respect from me in that dirrection.


chofer Says:

Margot

“There are many women and many men who would’ve made a much better job of umpiring that match”

I’mk sure none of the player’s team had to say ANYTHING about him before the match started? Why? If Ramos has that stric rule code and bother some players (men and women)?

Let’s call a duck a duck, shall we? Serena lost it. She should have managed her anger differently. Call the tournament ump before you open your mouth, whatever. But NOBODY is allowe to dirispect a chair umpire, a thing I’ve been saying since the tomes of McEnroe.

NOBODY. Code of conduct on court. Even though you think there’s injustice going on. It’s sports, not the Supreme Court sending you to jail.


SG1 Says:

Taking away a game is harsh penalty but Serena just couldn’t stop berating Ramos. You’re a pro and part of your job is knowing where the line is so that you don’t cross it. I don’t think Ramos was at fault at all. He did his job and the match is officiated at his discretion. Put yourself in his shoes. There’s a person attacking you continuously. Are you going to sit there and just keep on taking it? Serena messed with the wrong umpire. He had the power and the right to do what he did.


Margot Says:

VP: And I respect yours. In fact that is one area I do agree with you. I thought Serena should’ve had a bit more care for Naomi and her family. But on the other hand, perhaps you don’t get to be a GS champ by having feelings for your opponent, on court anyway, because afterwards she clearly did have a care.


Margot Says:

chofer: fair enough but let’s have all the umpires enforce all those rules on all the players, not just the unfortunate few who get officiated by Ramos. I mean can you even imagine Mohammed behaving like that?


Mystic - Willow Says:

Never really cared for the term feminism, women have equal rights yet still complain, prefer the term equality, to be honest i think its the men in this world that get more of a raw deal alot of the time ….


chofer Says:

Margot

No. But Layanhi had other problems, it seemed. I would have undesrtand the situation on a rookie (Osaka, for example). Understand it. Not justifying. Serena has had many battles on this stage. She should knoe better. I think the pressure got on her, mainly. Everything derailed from then on.


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

Serena was smart enough at the end of the match at least to realize, she overreacted and it affected Naomi. She will not admit it, but am sure she knows it. It was too litle and too late.
Press conf was again about her fighting for women’s righta. Pathetic again.

Personally I feel more represented by women as: Kvitova, Li Na and other decent champions.


Wog Boy Says:

VP, not to worry:)
I never said Margaret Court is right or wrong in what she is preaching (I am not member of her church) but I admire her dedication and belief in what she is doing, whether it is tennis, family, religion or just speaking her mind. She has results in every of these aspects, they are speaking for themselves, she doesn’t need me to do that, besides, I am not competent to judge her, but that doesn’t stop me to admire her.


Van Persie Says:

About equality, I think we have it lately in most of the countries.
But one have to admit: women are different from men, and we should accept the idea.
I alqays prefer to watch a female ballerina over a male, as I never watch women soccer: does not exist for me. But I enjoy once in a while a male soccer match.
A male will never be able to give birth to a child, and males will always be more efficient at construcion works.


Van Persie Says:

construction*


Wog Boy Says:

^^^ and my wife will never check oil in the car nor will check tyre pressures nor will wash the car and she says we are equal, bugger that, how can we be equal when she expects me to everything?!


Wog Boy Says:

^^^ to do everything


Van Persie Says:

Yep WB:)

And as great Tolstoi says, motherhood should not e the main purpose for leaving for a woman, many women tend to get frustrated by leaving only for their children. And new mother Serena more anoying then ever, I would say. Behaves like a female bear killing everything around her, apart of her child.


J-Kath Says:

Margot@8.46am

“Why Mohammed would’ve been out of his chair like a shot and given her a calming hug. :)” Didn’t Mohammed already do that with a player (the lovely Kygrios)and reap a less than welcome reward from public opinion?

As to other TX comments – re. Serena playing the equality card.(including mention of her daughter—Again)..she fuels her anger with the memory of racism which raised its nasty head in her earlier years.”


J-Kath Says:

Is anyone else being threatened by the EU when you read a tennis article on line? It was presented in scary bold,large print.

“The EU is threatening your access to online news.

By making news headlines from certain publications pay-per-view, Article 11 of the Copyright Directive will diminish choice and limit your freedom to share online, compromising the free flow of information NewsNow is part of and democracy relies on.

MEPs vote next Wednesday. You still have time to act.”


ClareA Says:

So, the coaching penalty was over harsh, I think. But Serena said she and Ramos had a good conversation about it. Then she got the standard penalty for smashing her racquet. But then, despite what she said about that “nice conversation “ she went over to Ramos, calling him a thief. That was on her! Likely a sexist overreaction by him at that point. My point is she would not let it go, and blew up!
I thought it must bring back that other us open blow up for her, and felt bad about that. As it turned out she and the crowd made it All About Serena and disregarded what affect it had on the actual champion.
Oh, wasn’t she brave to ask the crowd to stop booing? BS.


StarvingActor Says:

Can we get one thing clear? He did not simply ‘take a game away from Serena’. He issued a 3rd code violation, that automatically results in a loss of a game. Them the rules. For everyone.


gonzalowski Says:

I think Serena is that kind of big champions like soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, who have developed an Ego bigger than Madison and pityfully they get carried away by it.
How embarrassing that she says she was defending women’s rights … shameful


lylenubbins Says:

@ skeezer – - stop throwing the word “hate” around. People have legitimate differences of opinion on this situation.


PARIS Says:

Well I know this is alittle late to state this but yes I feel that Serena has been treated unfairly with racist ,sexist comments and actions on and off the court ,,,she a been negatively bombarded and exploited to the maximum . Yes I feel that the umpire went over board with abuse of power with his backlash ruling on Serena by taking away a point like that ,,,just cause she said that you are a thief and she broke her racket omg ! And as stated by others there have been men and women tennis players doing much worse than her,,like caroline pliskova during a tennis match broke her racket ,,argued with the umpire than bashed her racket against the umpires tower until she made a hole in it,,she was quite aggressive and shocking behavior! Where was the point taken away from her ? Why are these players treated better than Serena? Cause its racist and sexistest and the umpires judge are her harder! And its not fair and shameful and she feels this every time she steps out there on the court . After all these years and her dedication to womens tennis when will she reciev respect proper credit and respect the she deserves? She’s amazing tennis career and as a african american champion who has achieved incredible greatness and taken women tennis to a higher level! Where’s her credit for this! Why? Because she a african american woman who is strong athelete , incredibly skilled at her games,, who has dominants women’s tennis! But moreover some people who run the tournaments can’t stand this! Prefer to slander her name where ever possible! They much prefer to disrespect her instead! The us open , french open the indian wells tennis tournaments are unsupportive her and have negative history they wish to show of her,,,with racist slurs thrown at her at indian wells, french and us open taking away her 1 ranking giving her a much lower ranking after her return
from having her baby and us open constantly harassing her for blood tests mulitple times more than any other player man or woman ,,yes they want blood from her,,they want to find something to put her down,,, but have found nothing! Yes I feel Serena behavior on the court was mildly interesting compared to others and taken way out contexts Now they demend for her to apolgize,,well she will apologize to this overly charged umpire who abused his power on her ,,when all of the other players male and female and players like mcenroe and jimmy connors and many others in the past have all apologize for the behavior on the court!? Yes I have issues with women players like kerber , halep and particularly woziacki who have said nothing and gave no suppurt to serena! Serena has commented and supported woziacki many times on and off the court,,her issues ! They are suppose to be best buds right? w hello where is the love from her for from her best bud?


Dan the Man Says:

It is funny to see people are still posting on this now… it is a tribute to what a spectacle it was.
I’m not going to write much, but I will point out that the media attention on this has been very different from U.S. media vs. the rest of the globe. There has been a lot of support for Serena’s claim of sexism, from U.S. sources while non U.S. media has largely condemned her for bad behavior. To me this is a partisan issue about U.S. entitlement, and the media coverage reflects this.


Dan the Man Says:

Let’s clear up one point off the bat here as well, especially for those defending Serena. We all saw Serena make a huge deal of not receiving coaching when she received the warning, but when asked afterwards, Patrick Mouratoglou ADMITTED to it. So let’s just be clear here: Serena Williams LIED and said she wasn’t a cheater in front of the whole stadium. Any further arguments she continued to make were just deflections from that initial lie.


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