Serena Williams accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism after the Portuguese issued her three code violations during the US Open final that resulted in her receiving a game penalty.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion called Ramos a “liar” and a “thief” for giving her a coaching code violation, another one for racquet abuse, before eventually issuing her a third for verbal abuse, during her straight-sets defeat to Naomi Osaka on Saturday.
Williams’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou admitted he did illegally coach her in the second set but added that everyone does it, including Sascha Bajin, Osaka’s coach, during the final.
Still, Williams insists she didn’t deserve the coaching code and says she didn’t even see Mouratoglou’s signals.
“I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief, because I thought he took a game from me,” said Williams of Ramos.
“But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. 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. But I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal — like [Alize] Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous.
“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. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”
American ex-world No. 4 James Blake later said on Twitter that he did indeed get away with worse behaviour during his playing days.
“I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalised. And I’ve also been given a ‘soft warning’ by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy. Sad to mar a well played final that way,” tweeted Blake.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King applauded Williams for calling out the “double standard” in the sport, while Victoria Azarenka echoed her peer’s sentiments, describing Ramos’ actions as “BS” and saying: “If it was a men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t.”
Williams was asked in her press conference about the fact that Mouratoglou admitted to coaching her and she insisted she was unaware of any of it, and insists she wasn’t coached during the match.
The 36-year-old mentioned her child Olympia while arguing with Ramos on court, telling him she has a daughter and would never cheat, defending her integrity.
Asked what she would tell her daughter if she ever asked her about the 2018 US Open final, Williams said: “I’ll tell her, if she sees it, that I stood up for what I believed in. I stood up for what was right. Sometimes things in life don’t happen the way we want them, but to always stay gracious and stay humble. I think that’s the lesson we can all learn from this, just like I did.”
Osaka went through a difficult trophy ceremony as the US Open crowd booed her, voicing their discontent at the umpire’s actions towards Williams.
It drove Williams to ask them to stop booing Osaka, as she hugged and comforted the 20-year-old maiden Grand Slam champion.
“That’s why I was, I don’t want to answer the questions. This is her moment. Stop booing because she doesn’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. The people on the tennis court didn’t deserve it. They were all here to see tennis. She played an amazing match. She deserved credit, she deserved to win. At the end of the day, that’s what it was,” Williams explained.
“I feel like she was really, really consistent. I think her game is always super consistent. I felt like she played really well. Like I said, she made a lot of shots. She was so focused. I think, you know, whenever I had a break point, she came up with some great serve. Honestly, there’s a lot I can learn from her from this match. I hope to learn a lot from that.”