The ITF, which oversees the Grand Slams, just put out a press release in support of chair umpire Carlos Ramos for his actions in the hot-button topic of the US Open women’s in which Serena Williams got hit with three second-set violations during a loss to Naomi Osaka.
The statement reads, “Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr. Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offences.
“It is understandable that this high profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr. Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”
So the ITF is backing Ramos.
The WTA isn’t. “Matters that need to be looked into that took place during the match,” they wrote Saturday. Then last night following the men’s final, WTA head Steve Simon had this to say:
“Yesterday’s US Open final resulted in the crowning of a deserving new champion, Naomi Osaka. The WTA applauds Naomi for her tremendous accomplishment.
“Yesterday also brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches. 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.
“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.
“Yesterday’s match showcased one of tennis’s new stars as well as one of the greatest players of the game. We look forward to more thrilling matches between these great athletes and hope that what we all witnessed yesterday never happens again.”
So let’s back up. This isn’t a men v women thing as Serena and the WTA seems to think. Men’s get penalized all the time for breaking racquet, coaching etc. However, you don’t see the top guys like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic take it so far because they know better, and especially not in a Slam final! Serena has taken that far in the past as we saw in 2011 and in 2009 at the US Open. She’s a champion, she should know better. And now the WTA (and the USTA), which owes so much to Serena, almost has to back her here. She’s their main attraction.
Serena also has to accept her actions. Her coach admitted to coaching which is against the rules. Maybe everyone does do it – like speeding – but DON’T GET CAUGHT. Her coach did, end of story, and she rightly got hit with a warning.
Yeah but Sean, it was so minor. True, but perhaps Ramos saw him coaching earlier in the match or earlier in the tournament and at that moment in the second set he felt he had had enough. We don’t know.
And while it was a ticky-tacky call, the result ONLY A WARNING. Just like a getting a serve clock time WARNING. You accept it and move on. And afterward it did seem to fire up Serena who broke Osaka’s serve to go up 3-1.
Then, after she lost her lead, Serena destroyed her racquet. Clear as day, that’s a violation, and since she had already been hit with a warning, by rule that led to a point penalty.
And then 10 minutes later it was complete chaos as Ramos hit her with a game penalty for verbal abuse. Watching what was going on, I knew Serena was getting a little overboard with her attack, but I never thought Ramos would actually take it that far. But he did, and per the rules (it’s a judgment call), he’s well within his right to do so. Hence, why the ITF backs him up. Ramos went by the book.
But as we see in Super Bowls and NBA Finals, and in the biggest sporting moments the umpires/referees wisely take a step back and let the players determine the outcome. This wasn’t the first round, this was for one of the biggest titles in the world, and Ramos should have let it slide, at least a little longer.
Then again, I don’t know – nor does anyone but Ramos and Serena – the real history between the two or what was said earlier. As ESPN stated in their audio playback, they couldn’t hear all the words that were exchanged.
As for Serena, nobody made her coach make those signals and nobody made her smash her racquet and nobody made her continue to berate Ramos. That’s all 100% on her. She has to keep calm, recognize the situation (Osaka was going to beat her anyway). And if she wants her coach not to coach her during matches, then she should have told him. She’s freaking Serena, he would listen! (And maybe he will be out of the job, we’ll see.)
And no, her being a mother, her being African-American, her going for a record, her being a champion, all that is irrelevant.
What is, is that 1) she broke the rules and 2) Ramos failed to recognize he was in a massive event that didn’t need his direct involvement unless it was egregious. And this was not egregious.
So I’m guessing if both could do this over, Ramos would not have called that verbal abuse penalty (or waited longer) and Serena would have kept her cool.
The only person who did in this whole mess was Osaka who calmly put the hammer down on Serena and the tennis world and somehow served it out.
I also wonder what would have happened if Osaka was called for the coaching violation (remember her coach Sascha Bajin was a long time member of Serena’a camp)? That crowd would have reigned fire down upon that 20-year-old. And there would have been no statements and no calls for making coaching legal. Well… That is unless Serena lost, and isn’t that what this whole thing is really about anyway?
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