As a Black woman, and tennis superstar, Serena Williams has experienced racism and sexism in her profession, repeatedly. And now, umpires may collectively come against her for calling out sexism and boycott her matches.
Williams dared to question chair umpire Carlos Ramos’ issuing code violations during her US Open match on Saturday against Naomi Osaka, and accused him of sexism when given a game penalty after calling him a “thief” for taking away a point. Williams argued that male players have said worse to umpires without penalty.
Umpires are reportedly discussing a boycott because of what they feel is as a lack of support for Ramos by tennis associations.
An anonymous source told The Times of London that there was a growing consensus that the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) did not support umpires, and Ramos was “‘thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it.'”
WTA CEO Steve Simon said, in a statement, on Sunday the association “believes 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.”
This, apparently, has umpires feeling “abandoned.”
“The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,” Richard Ings, a retired elite Gold Badge umpire told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls.”
They are fearful to be the next Ramos?
The International Tennis Federation (ITF), Ramos’ employer, publicly backed him on Monday. He will return to the umpire’s chair for this weekend’s Davis Cup clash between Croatia and the U.S.
What they fear is culture change in the sport.
“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,” Williams said on Saturday.
“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.”
She incurred a total of three code violations on Saturday for alleged on-court coaching, smashing her racket, and “verbal abuse.” The US Open fined her a total of $17,000.
And she’s also been the subject of a racist cartoon and banter.
USTA has backed Williams’ claims of sexism after she was given a game penalty. The CEO of the USTA, Katrina Adams, said in a statement that she supports her, and there is a double standard in tennis.
“In my opinion, right now, yes, and it probably always has been,” Adams said on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday.
Former world No. 1 player Billie Jean King said, in a column last week, that she believes Ramos treated Williams differently than male players have been treated.
Both James Blake and Andy tweeted that they’ve said worse things to umpires, but were not penalized.