Search icon

Women in Sport

09th Sep 2018

Serena Williams accuses umpire of sexism after receiving three code violations

The 23-time Grand Slam champion felt she was unfairly treated during her US Open final defeat to Japan's Naomi Osaka last night

Reuben Pinder

Serena Williams lost the US Open final to Naomi Osaka

The 23-time Grand Slam winner has accused umpire Carlos Ramos of treating men less harshly for their on-court conduct, demanding an apology from the umpire after she received a coaching violation.

Williams was penalised by Ramos for three code violations during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to the 20-year-old Osaka on Saturday: one for getting coaching signals; one for breaking her racket, which cost her a point; and one for calling the chair umpire a thief, which cost her a game.

But the match penalties did not prevent her from doubling down on her on-court accusations in the post-match press conference.

“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” she said.

“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,” Williams said. “But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”

While on court, Williams pleaded with the tournament referee, Brian Earley, saying: “Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?”

Two-time Australian Open champion and two-time US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka sympathised with Williams’ grievances, stating on Twitter that: “If it was men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t.”

Billie Jean King, who won 12 Grand Slam singles titles and helped found the women’s tennis tour and pave the way for equal prize money in the sport, also expressed sympathy towards Williams, explaining that players should not be punished for the actions of their coaches.

“Several things went very wrong during the US Open women’s finals today,” King wrote. “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.”

In a second tweet, King said: “When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalised for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ & and there are no repercussions. Thank you (Serena Williams) for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

Williams went on to state that she hopes this whole situation will be a breakthrough for future female tennis players who show their emotions on court.

“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,” Williams said. “Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”