Serena v Ramos, Will The Umpires Strike Back?
by Sean Randall | September 12th, 2018, 11:52 am

In light of the US Open women’s final kerfuffle, news has come out that the top umpires might boycott upcoming Serena Williams matches.

While that sounds interesting, it probably won’t amount to much, because like the NFL years ago, there will always be lower-tiered umpires ready and willing to step in. So who’s going to even notice?

And do we know when Serena will return to tennis? Melbourne?

But a more important point is raised. With the ITF defending Carlos Ramos, does that open the door for umpires to become more “by the book”?

One of the criticisms of umpires has been their lack of consistency. And with Mohammed Lahyani coaching-up Nick Kyrgios and now with Ramos, maybe going forward the best way to officiate a match is to go exactly by what the rulebook says.

No more leniency, no more “soft warnings”, no more giving players a break. Just call it by the book. And if there’s any sort of controversy, you can always cite that you were just following the rules.

Clearly, the umpires are not happy that the tournament and the WTA didn’t side with them. But let’s be honest, no one pays money to see Carlos Ramos in the chair, they pay to see Serena, so promoters and the women’s organization will back the money-making star. They have to cater to Serena, they have no choice. They can lose Carlos Ramos, but they can’t afford to lose the biggest draw in women’s sports and one of the biggest in the game.

And I think the umpires know that. They also know the only real way for them to collectively come together and send a message – again a boycott won’t work – is to tighten up their officiating.

It’s their call, let’s see if they make it.

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42 Comments for Serena v Ramos, Will The Umpires Strike Back?

Django Says:

Yes, they should tighten up but WHO will ever challenge narcissist Serena again?

tfouto Says:

If they can’t handle Serena or anyone else, they shouldn’t be umpires. The fear cannot control an umpire.

skeezer Says:

Right on Sean! Clarity and sanity once again👍

batlord Says:

Continuing to focus on how horrible Serena Williams acted only continues to keep her in the spotlight. It is a fact: Serena losing in a Slam causes infantile behavior. Carlos Ramos WAS right, and I would pay more money to see him officiate than I would EVER pay to see Serena play. The WTA needs to grow a backbone and enforce rules, not cater to adult-sized babies.

lylenubbins Says:

Good take, Sean. FWIW vast majority of comments to online articles are anti-Serena.

kriket Says:

Margot, the proposals in that article aren’t realistic at all. That coaching should be fined instead of penalised? So, the player with more money could get as much coaching as they want?
Second tier refereeing on big decisions like game penalty? So, a second referee could what, overrule the umpire? I mean come on, there’s gotta be one person who makes the ultimate decisions, and that’s gotta be the ump, not some clerk sitting in the back. What’s next, an appointed comitee for Serena? That would be just silly, and with those kind of proposals, you can’t really take the article seriously.

skeezer Says:

Professor of Law’s point of view. He is Aussie! …….and doesn’t draw cartoons LOL;

Wog Boy Says:

He is not an Aussie, he just took position (very well paid position) at Deakin University (not really top of the range Uni), never lived before here, I doubt he has citizenship, he is more American (and British) than Aussie, he worked on Wall street and was solicitor in America, bottom line he is Indian. Check his biography before you make fool of yourself.

He is probably looking for a job back in America and sucking up to new employers.

fred stone Says:

Here’s Lendl getting a game penalty against Mcenroe:

My 2 cents, Serena got what she deserved. (she’s a repeat offender, nothing needs to be added)

Truth Seeker Says:

Speaking to CNN, Richard Ings,former top-level umpire, said: “Carlos Ramos has been a professional umpire for four decades. There’s no one more experienced, no one more knowledgeable, no one more capable as an umpire than Carlos Ramos.
“If governing bodies can throw him under a bus then umpires everywhere are seething … They’ve lost their safety factor of knowing that these governing bodies will support them.”

Granted Serena fetches more money but for how long? Should ITF bow and rewrite or apply rules selectively to favor one player who has only a couple of years left in her career? How do you resolve the contradiction between equal pay and unequal coaching between men’s and women’s tennis? It is already unequal when women play only 3 sets at Grand Slams, and you want to add on-court coaching only for women? How does that help mitigate sexism? Are these questions relevant?
If I could go back in time and if I were Ramos, I would have an option to pretend the coaching did not happen. On the other hand, if I were ITF/ USTA authority, I would assign a less rigid referee in anticipation that there would come an occasion to make a call that would favor Serena. But as an ethical person, I would do neither.
If I were to pen an article, in the aftermath, fully aware that we cannot go back in time, I would detail all 4 instances where Serena caused uproar irrationally, between 2004-2018.
Most importantly, I would highlight the fact that each time it happened in America, US Open in particular. Should not one wonder why only in America? I would definitely pay close attention to what Serena said to the 2011 finals referee Eva Asderaki:
“We were in America last time I checked. Don’t look at me… You’re a hater and you’re unattractive inside. What a loser.”
I would underline the most significant fact of Serena’s claim of having more rights than others in America due to her subconscious sense of Nativity and xenophobia.In my opinion, it is Serena’s sense of entitlement that provokes her into the type of behavior that has made the women’s US Open finals look really bad, 4 unexcusable times now.
First incident occured back in 2004 when Chair Umpire Mariana Alves overruled a line judge’s call, Serena argued with Alves: “I don’t need to see the replay. I know my shots. Not only was it in, it wasn’t even near the line.” This one was in the quarter finals. If Serena had been disciplined properly the first time, she probably wouldn’t be emboldened to get worse in the finals of 2009, 2011, and 2018.
In 2009, facing match point against Clijster, line judge Tsurubuchi correctly called a foot fault, making it a double-fault. Serena threatened to shove a racket or ball into the line judge’s throat and choke her (reportedly, she said, “I swear to God I’ll fu *king take the ball and shove it down your fu *king throat.” Serena was fined $10,500, and most tennis experts agreed she should have been suspended at least for a few months. How can we unethically argue that Serena brings more money, therefore the line judge should just hoodwink the foot fault? If it is all about money, why not turn sports of tennis into WWE/WWF or some match-fixing circus. But I doubt that. US Open brings more money to the city of New York in a fortnight than 4 major leagues combined because fans believe tennis is a fair, rule-bound sports. If you were to institutionalize favoritism, I am not sure what future tennis will have. The
Third was in the finals against Stosur in 2011 when Serena yelled “come on” while the ball was still in play and chair umpire Eva Asderaki ruled the point wasn’t over and so awarded it to Stosur, as Serena, according to the rule book, hindered her opponent’s ability to complete the exchange. Serena abused the umpire calling her hater and implied that the umpire had less rights because of her national origin. Serena was fined $2000. It should have been much more for repeat offense.
You all saw Serena not only called Ramos a thief (Ramos is known around ATP/ ITF as the man with utmost ethical integrity) but also threatened his job as if he were her employee. She berated and insulted Ramos for half an hour. The $1700 fine would only encourage her to do worse in the future especially if she reaches the finals at the US Open or elsewhere in America.

How can we unethically argue that Serena brings more money, therefore the line judge or a chair Umpire should just hoodwink foot fault, coaching from stand, equipment demolition, incessant profanity laden insult, or any other rule violation? Why even have a referee? Let the two players sort out problems between themselves or AI-equipped robot decide in the future? If it is all about money, why not turn tennis into faux sports like WWE/WWF or some match-fixing circus. But I doubt that would produce more revenues. US Open brings more money to the city of New York and USTA in a fortnight than 4 major leagues combined in the same span because fans believe tennis is a fair, rule-bound sports.
If you were to institutionalize favoritism in applying rules to help one player over the other, I am not sure what future tennis will have.

1) Videos of Serena’s abuses in the past:'Always-something‘:-Serena-Williams’-past-US-Open-episodes

2) Navratilova’s New York Times article:

3) Guardian article on the 3rd incident (2011):

4) CNN article:

Margot Says:

This has been done to death now. We aren’t going to agree. Let’s have an article on the lovely Naomi and her potential. I think she has a brilliant career ahead of her.

skeezer Says:

What consititutes being an Aussie? He and his wife been living and working there for 5 years(which you dubiously left out). Long enough to get citizenship, no?
Besides all that…. his credentials are probably better than most here, and to have a law professor chime in on an opinion of all this is noteworthy.

Mystic - Willow Says:

Margot i agree, as you were a Mac fan i put this up for you lol

Van Persie Says:


The guy is most likely a resident in Australia, if he does not have the citizenship. Like Nole is a resident in Monte Carlo, as example. Nole is also leaving in Monte Carlo with wife and children.

Van Persie Says:

Lendl, Monica Seles and others are also Americans having the American citizenship.

Van Persie Says:

P.S. American Martina Navratilova explained very well, that Serena Williams was the one to blame. Chofer and I posted already her point of view.

Wog Boy Says:

VP, he is smarter than that but didn’t have anything else to come back with at me.
I am citizen of Australia for the last 30 years and I don’t consider myself Aussie like nobody else that I know who came here as adult or even child regardless of background.
It would be preposterous and embarrassing if I am in the pub with John Millman or late Steve Irwin and I say “We Aussies”, I would laugh at myself.
Rupert Murdoch is an American, isn’t he, well he denounced Aussie citizenship in order to get American and run his empire from America?!
As for this dude, he came on work visa, was contracted, like sports people playing all over the world, he maybe later applied for permanent residenship after four years he can apply for citizenship which I doubt since he is from India living in UK, Amerika and Ireland and probably got some of those citizenship which by US or UK law he would have to denounce in order to get Aussie one.
That’s not the point, he probably needs exposure, tell me which law profesor will bother with Serena?

Van Persie Says:

Yes J-K,

And it will be still discussed for days, if not for weeks. PC world, USTA and chief of WTA want to win “this war”, which started as Serena Williams was surprised by Naomi. She did not expect to lose that match, so she had to win something else.

Katrina Adams was embarasing. If I remember well, at the trophy ceremony, she had to tell first “This is not the outcome, that we wanted” or something like that. It was understood by Naomi: we wanted Serena to win. After Katrina told this, Naomi had her eyes on the ground. It was a disgrace.
Ok, we can tell, “outcome” has several meanings.

Wog Boy Says:

JK, thanks, I liked it, great read.
So Fognini was fined $97K and Serena $17K, where is equality? Plus he ended up with good behaviour bond, what about Serena and she is repeat offender?

chico Says:

The more you turn this around the more I think you come to respect Osakas performance during the tumult.

Wonder what motivation this law professor had to write something like this:

He refers the rules:
..the purpose of the rules is to provide “fair and reasonable rules for the orderly conduct and operation of the four Grand Slam Tournaments in as uniform a manner as possible.”
Then the professor ads: “Ramos’s penalties were neither fair nor reasonable.”

I mean he has just stated that “uniform manner” is what the rules try to preserve. Does that mean that it should be free for anybody to throw a tantrum without being penalized? I mean uniform manner in this case would have any player at any time shouting at the umpire when the player feels that the umpire has done a wrong decision?
The writing also cites via link that Ramos is a repeat offender(my words) by citing incidents with Nadal and Murray. Last I checked, those guys where.. yeah, guys.

Or as the professor starts:
Serena Williams was robbed. Not by sexism or racism – although she and her sister Venus have endured plenty of both during their careers – but by an umpire’s incompetence in interpreting the rules. To employ Hanlon’s razor, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

So in order to explain Serena’s behavior as stupidity, that would mean for example that her skill set is so superior that she has forgot that a tennis final is also a mental bout, and throwing a tantrum might disrupt the other players rhytm. But still even if it were so, can you continue disrupting the other players focus? I mean, it was NOT about the umpire, I’d say it was Serena’s rant that made it about the umpire.

There where other stuff too that made me ponder if this law professor has seen more than the occasional tennis match but he finishes off with:

“With 39 major titles, Serena Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles among active players. The World Tennis Association ranked her No. 1 in singles eight times. And since her professional debut in 1995, she has endured much racism and sexism in her career. But in this instance, she and the public were defeated by a lesser foe: incompetence.”

There is a “but” there but why is Serena’s accolades highlighted here when we are talking about a single incident? If she has endured sexism and racism in the past should she be given a more lenient a ruling? That’s no uniform manner.

Serena, you don’t need to prove anything, but there would be a high road to show here.

Why do I bother? Don’t know but maybe this professor thingy smells of nepotism big way, in order of artificially protecting a golden eggs laying goose. It weakens the sport.

Go Osaka!

skeezer Says:

Thanks for reading that and commenting intelligently👍

J-Kath Says:

Exactly, WogBoy.

chris ford1 Says:

I thought at the time that Serena was way out of line but Ramos might in 20-20 hindsight have have given her a warning that he would give a game penalty if she didn’t knock off her tirade, because at the time with that score a game penalty would be the same as ejecting her.
What made me almost vomit though was the press conference and interviews later where she would not admit error but how it was a sign of sexism and she had to be strong to get where she was today in the face of all the racism and sexism she has endured and how men don’t understand the work it takes for a mother to come back..The more she talked, the more esteem and pride in herself surfaced. Though Serena went through the motions of praising this year’s wonderkund, (Stevens was last year’s tennis “it” girl), it was mostly about Serena, her coach, her baby, and how the umpire was a problem. Then of course as the dry heave phase – the WTA, USTA, various female ex-players rallied to her.

Mystic - Willow Says:

I Feel alot more sorry for men these days, they cant seem to say or do anything without been accused of sexism or racism, blown up all out of all proportion, Naomi Osakas win has been sadly overshadowed by Serenas out bust, agree with Margot time to let this go, no thread from the TX staff on Naomi and how she won her first GS title, all talk pftt ….

Mystic - Willow Says:

^ meant all Serena talk ^

Humble Rafa Says:

no thread from the TX staff on Naomi and how she won her first GS title

Who is Naomi? Serena’s maid?

Margot Says:

Happy to help you out HR:
Accompanied by a lovely picture of her, so you’ll recognise her next time.

Mystic - Willow Says:

Margot did you see my link ?

Humble Rafa Says:

Happy to help you out HR:
Accompanied by a lovely picture of her, so you’ll recognise her next time.

Oh..I remember her now. Side show artist at the USO.

Wog Boy Says:

Nicely explained..for the slow people…sequence by sequence:

skeezer Says:

^then you must have gotten it.

sieezer Says:

You think you’re slow? I don’t. Look how quick you responded. Bullying tactics and spouting out “stupid” doesn’t win an discussion. Later.

skeezer Says:

You think you’re slow? I don’t. Look how quick you responded. Bullying tactics and spouting out “stupid” doesn’t win an discussion.

Humble Rafa Says:

Any idea who the Big Lady might fight with this Saturday to stand up for her daughter? And ensure that women are treated no differently than men?

Wog Boy Says:

@ September 13th, 2018 at 1:34 am

Great, factual and objective post, worth reading.

SG1 Says:

skeezer Says:

Professor of Law’s point of view. He is Aussie! …….and doesn’t draw cartoons LOL;


Sorry…but this Professor of Law is clueless about tennis (and probably sport in general).

Let’s debunk the theory that Serena didn’t see the gesture so it wasn’t cheating. How does this Law Professor know that Serena doesn’t have other parts of her entourage in the stands that relay Mouratoglu’s signs when Serena and Mourataglu cannot make direct eye contact?

Answer: He doesn’t and neither does the umpire. The umpire saw intent to cheat. Athletes go to extraordinary measures to get an advantage over their peers. If Mouratoglu and Serena have a non-verbal communication systems it’s because they intend to use it and cheat. Cheating is cheating.

Let’s debunk the claim that Serena calling him a thief was rhetorical. Anyone mad enough to blow a game after already being penalized a point in her own National Championship clearly isn’t thinking on all cylinders.

Answer: It’s not up to the umpire to determine if her statements were meant sincerely or rhetorically. How can anyone possibly know what’s going on in someone else’s head? She called an umpire with an exemplary reputation a thief in front of thousands of fans and millions of people watching on TV after berating the poor guy. He made his call and good on him for doing it. It takes courage to stand your ground against a bully. That’s what gets lost in all of this. Serena is trying to play the victim but she does it so damned poorly. The victims were Osaka and Ramos. After she received the point penalty it was time to shut up and play but oh no…let’s make a scene so embarrassing it will be remembered for decades. There’s actually some reverse sexism going on here because if this kind of ongoing rant was done by a man, people would be livid that he wasn’t punished. She even threatened that he would not ref another one of her matches. Does that sound rhetorical?

And of course this Professor of Law has managed to side step the fact that Serena is a repeat offender. Last I checked, courts (lawyers etc.) look at past behaviour when assessing punishment. Serena’s track record is appalling so she didn’t earn the benefit of the doubt in this instance.

kiedas Says:

well… she played the naked card again… so… it will forgotten soon and she will be doing serena things again soon enough

nice to see a new black usa player doing serena things (Sloane Stephens calling cheater and bitch another tennis player and walking without from that without any penalty, in fact the umpire defended her) i guess she is just following the example of the serena

what an example is serena to everyone

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