US Open: Serena Williams’ claims of sexism backed by WTA
Serena Williams’ claims of sexism in the US Open final have been backed by the governing body of women’s tennis.
WTA chief executive Steve Simon said the umpire showed Williams a different level of tolerance over Saturday’s outbursts than if she had been a man.
She got a code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “thief” in the defeat by Naomi Osaka.
The American said it was “sexist” to have been penalised a game.
“The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men versus women,” Simon said in a statement.
“We do not believe that this was done last night.”
He also called for coaching to be allowed “across the sport”. Umpire Carlos Ramos penalised Williams after seeing her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, making a hand gesture. The Frenchman later admitted he was trying to coach his player.
The head of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which organises the US Open, said men “are badgering the umpire on the changeovers and nothing happens”.
“We watch the guys do this all the time,” USTA chief Katrina Adams said.
“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.
“I’m all about gender equality and I think when you look at that situation these are conversations that will be imposed in the next weeks. We have to treat each other fairly and the same.”
BBC tennis presenter Sue Barker, who said: “I’ve sat courtside watching the men ranting at umpires and they haven’t been given a violation.”
Serena Williams, 36, was fined $17,000 (£13,100) for code violations that included calling Ramos a “liar” and “thief”. She earned $1.85m (£1.43m) in prize money for reaching the final.
British former player Andrew Castle said Simon should be “ashamed” of his comments.
“The accusation of sexism which was levelled by Serena Williams in her press conference after the woman’s final needs to be backed up,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
“Otherwise she could be accused of bringing the game into disrepute.”
Zimbabwean Cara Black, winner of winner of 10 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles, said she felt sorry for Ramos.
“He was just doing his job out there and calling Serena on what he saw. She lost control of her emotions. I don’t think sexism was a part in it,” she said.
“She had a match on her hands against Naomi. I’ve seen it happen a few times where she starts to bully the situation and try to intimidate her opponents a little bit and she comes with these outbursts.”