‘Disturbed’ tennis umpires consider boycotting Serena Williams matches
‘Disturbed’ tennis umpires consider boycotting Serena Williams matches and forming a union after chair ump was ‘hung out to dry’ by higher-ups
- Tennis umpires are upset at how official bodies reacted to Carlos Ramos’ calls
- Ramos called three violations against Williams at US Open final on Saturday
- Willams complained calls were ‘sexist’, a position WTA and USTA seemed to back
- Now other umpires are concerned that league officials hung Ramos out to dry
- They are considering unionizing and even boycotting future Williams matches
Professional tennis umpires have said they are ‘disturbed’ by the lack of governing body support for the chair umpire who drew the ire of Serena Williams, and may even consider unionizing and boycotting future Williams matches.
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos, 47, was ‘thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it,’ one anonymous umpire told the Times of London about the incident on Saturday at the US Open Finals.
Ramos called three violations on Williams during her loss to Naomi Osaka: receiving coaching on the court, racket abuse, and a rare game penalty for verbal abuse, after Williams berated Ramos as a ‘thief’ and a ‘liar’.
Williams immediately blamed the calls on ‘sexism’, and umpires are concerned that league officials seemed to support that claim rather than back up Ramos for doing his job.
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos, 47, (above) was ‘thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it’ another umpire has said of Saturday’s incident
Umpires are mad at governing body officials who backed up star Serena Williams (left) after her on-court tantrum and complaints that violations called against her were ‘sexist’
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USTA President Katrina Adams was among those rushing to Williams’s defense and casting aspersions on the umpire, suggesting that he would have allowed men to get away with similar behavior.
The WTA also seemed to back her claim that the penalties were sexist in a statement, although the ITF sided with Ramos two days later, ‘one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis.’
Several umpires, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Times that they were considering boycotting future Williams matches.
Though the umpires have no union to organize such a boycott, that may change.
One of the three violations Ramos called on Williams was for racket abuse, after the superstar smashed her racket (above) on the court in reaction to losing a game
Another violation landed on Williams for verbal abuse of the chair umpire during the match
‘There is a lot of unhappiness in the umpiring community because no one is standing up for officials,’ one senior umpire told the Guardian.
‘Umpires keep asking: ‘What if it was me in that chair on Saturday?’ There is a widespread feeling that Carlos was hung out to dry for nearly 48 hours and that no one is standing up for officials,’ the official said.
Several umpires are privately pushing for an officials’ union, the newspaper reported.
One source familiar with the discussions, said: ‘Umpires don’t have any independent means of representation and are employed by the governing bodies. If talking to the media is not allowed, and governing bodies are speaking out against them, what are umpires supposed to do?’
Ramos (left) has spoken out to say ‘I’ll be fine’ after two major governing bodies of the sport seemed to support Williams in her claim that his calls against her were ‘sexist’
Umpires are forbidden by contract from speaking out to the press, but one retired ump was able to voice the views of his brethren.
‘The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,’ Richard Ings, a retired, elite Gold Badge umpire told ESPN.com.
‘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.’
Ramos, who is Portuguese, broke his silence on Tuesday in a brief interview with Portuguese publication Tribuna Expresso.
While unable to comment specifically on the Williams incident, he said: ‘It’s a delicate situation. But umpiring ‘a la carte’ is something that does not exist. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine’.
How Serena’s furious confrontation with the US Open umpire unfolded
- Serena Williams was handed a code violation when her coach Patrick Mouratoglou appeared to make a gesture to her, in what the umpire said was off-court coaching.
- Serena told the umpire ‘I don’t cheat’ before the game continued.
- A few games later Williams smashed a racket after losing a game to go 4-3 behind. This led to a second code violation and her opponent was given a point. Williams then went on a bizarre rant, in which she called umpire Carlos Ramos ‘a thief’: ‘You are a liar. You will never be on a court of mine as long as you live. When are you going to give me my apology? Say you are sorry,’ she screamed.
- This resulted in another code violation and her opponent, Naomi Osaka, was awarded a game.
- Williams called for the tournament referee as she cried on court. No further action was taken and the referee left the court.
- Williams went on to lose the match 2-6, 4-6, and continued to stew on court during the prize ceremony to heckles from the crowd.
- An on-court interviewer had to order the crowd to stop booing until Williams regained her composure. She then also called for the jeering to stop and congratulated her opponent.
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