Male tennis players have historically been congratulated for snapping back at umpires for their bad calls or blind eyes. Yet, Serena Williams, one of the most honorable and sportsmanlike woman in the game, was severely punished for such an offense.
The U.S. Open was the scene. Naomi Osaka was the opponent. Chair umpire Carlos Ramos was the “villain” in Serena Williams’ eyes. After a disruptive moment of coaching, a demolished racket, and Williams’ sharp tongue proclaiming Ramos to be a “thief,” three code violations were procured by Mrs. Williams. A triple-combo that cost her $17,000 in fines. However, Williams’ frustration was not rooted in the harsh penalties that cost her the Grand Slam final win. On the contrary, Ramos’ manner in issuing the penalties is what spurred all the media attention, debate, and ultimately a controversial cartoon that depicted Williams rather crudely.
All the debate had the media honing in on tennis officiating and its potential sexist undertones. According to a passionate Williams, “To lose a game for saying [that Ramos is a thief] is not fair. There’s a lot of men out there that have said a lot of things, and because they are men, that doesn’t happen.” Just look at famous tennis hotheads such as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Men who were celebrated for their unwillingness to yield to tennis umpires. Men who said, did, and expressed a lot worse than Serena Williams had that day.
Therefore, in a show of concern for the equality of the game, not anger, Serena took to the tabloids and expressed her distaste for the double standard that female athletes are subjected to. The penalties that Ramos issued, in Williams’ and her supporters’ opinions, did not reflect the tolerance he has shown in the past for male players. Even tennis Hall-of-Famer Billie Jean King weighed in on the issue: “When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” & and there are no repercussions.”
All in all, the drama has started to simmer down, but will the double standard prevail? Or, is there even anything to protest? Was Serena over-sensitive and exaggerating the whole ordeal? Was Ramos in the wrong? That decision is for every individual to make for themselves. But, we sure do know how Serena feels, and justly so!