Reaction to Serena controversy has some umpires suggesting a boycott

by: Kamakshi Tandon | September 11, 2018

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The ITF and WTA issue respective statements on Serena-Ramos controversy:

Tennis umpires are unhappy about USTA and WTA criticism of fellow umpire Carlos Ramos, according to the Times, with some even talking about a potential boycott of Serena Williams’ matches.

An anonymous official told the newspaper that Ramos was "thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it," and that a number of umpires agreed they were "not supported" by the USTA during what was a particularly controversial US Open.

The story said that among the measures being discussed was a refusal to chair contests involving Williams unless she apologized to Ramos, though it did not suggest that this was likely.

In the women's final, Ramos issued Williams three code violations: a coaching warning, a point penalty for racquet abuse, and then verbal abuse when Williams finished extended complaints by calling him a "thief," docking her a game. 

Williams told the supervisor on court that she had received the penalty "because I'm a woman," suggesting a male player would not have been penalized for saying the same thing.

Speaking the following day to ESPN, USTA president Katrina Adams said,"We watch the guys do this all the time... They are badgering the umpire."

The WTA also issued a statement from CEO Steve Simon calling for "no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men versus women" and noting, "We do not believe this was done [in the final]."

But the next day, Ramos received backing from another tennis organization. The ITF said that Ramos had been "in accordance with the relevant rules " and "acted at all times with professionalism and integrity."

According to the Times, umpires are also not pleased about the tournament's reaction to the controversy around Alize Cornet, who was given a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct for taking off and changing her shirt on court. While the USTA issued a statement saying that all players could change their shirts at their chair, former ATP VP Richard Ings, who did not name a source, said that umpires had been specifically told before the tournament began that female players could not change attire on the court.

There were other umpiring controversies during the US Open, with umpire Mohamed Layhani giving a pep talk to Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray complaining that Fernando Verdasco was speaking to his coach against the rules in front of officials during a newly-implemented heat break.

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