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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Serena Williams

Serena Williams not blaming loss on ankle injury

Serena Williams

Serena Williams did not blame her surprising loss to Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on her ankle injury. Instead, she credited Pliskova for turning things up in key spots.

Pliskova took the first set of the match 6-4 and was up a break in the second before losing her serve and giving it right back. Williams went on to win the second set 6-4 and then was up 5-1 and serving for the match up 40-30. She was called for a foot fault on her first serve and then rolled her ankle after being wrong-footed on her second serve. After that, she lost the game and five more in a row to lose the match.

In her post-match press conference, Williams said her ankle injury was not the reason she lost.

“I just think she played lights out on match points,” Williams told reporters. “Literally, hitting lines. Just went for it, went crazy on match points. She just played unbelievable on match point. … I don’t think it had anything to do with my ankle per se. I just think she was nailing and hitting shots. Obviously I made some mistakes, but she played really well after that.”

Williams was also asked why she did not call out the trainer during the side change after she injured her ankle.

“I really hate calling the trainer out to be honest. And at that point, I didn’t feel like I needed it or like it would be a big deal, so I kept going.”

Regardless of whether or not she was being genuine about the ankle not being a factor, seeing her take responsibility for her loss and credit her opponent rather than go scorched earth blaming others is refreshing.

Serena Williams loses after suffering ankle injury on match point

Serena Williams experienced a terrible sequence late in her quarterfinals match with Karolina Pliskova at the Australian Open and ended up blowing a huge lead.

Williams rallied back from down a set and down a break in the second to win the second set and power through to a 5-1 lead in the third. She was up 40-30 and serving for the match when she was called for a foot fault on her first serve. Then on her second serve, Pliskova took control and wrong-footed Williams to send it to deuce.

Williams twisted her left ankle as she tried to abruptly change direction to chase down a shot from Pliskova. She was noticeably off after that and double faulted before losing the game. Pliskova then went on to win the next six straight games to flip the match as Williams did not seem to be at full strength. Pliskova won 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, winning six games in a row to take home the match and advance to the semis.

Report: Tennis umpires considering boycott of Serena Williams matches

Serena Williams umpire

Tennis umpires are considering a boycott of Serena Williams matches out of fear for their jobs, according to a report.

The Times of London reported that tennis umpires are feeling unsupported following the fallout from Saturday’s US Open final between Williams and Naomi Osaka. Williams was called for three violations during a four-game span, resulting in a severe game penalty with the championship on the line in the second set.

Though all three were legitimate violations and called correctly according to the rule book, some feel that umpire Carlos Ramos did not need to assess the coaching violation and/or that he could have given Williams more leeway before assessing the third violation, which resulted in the harshest penalty. Williams defended herself multiple times following the violations being called, at times yelling at Ramos and demanding an apology. She later accused him of sexism for calling the third violation, which she believes never would have been called were she a man.

In the aftermath, the USTA (which puts on the US Open), and WTA, the women’s tour on which Williams plays, both issued statements in support of Williams. The ITF backed Ramos in a statement.

Umpires apparently now fear becoming part of such a controversy — being publicly vilified for doing nothing more than their job and calling violations when they’re committed on the court. Not being supported — and worse — being blamed, undermines the officials’ abilities to enforce the rule book and stand up to abuse from players.

A retired Gold Badge umpire told ESPN that any organized action from the umpires would be unlikely, but he said several umpires nonetheless feel abandoned and unsupported.

Umpire Carlos Ramos has history of being stickler for violations

Carlos Ramos

Serena Williams may be right: a male player might get away with some things that a female player would not. Regardless of gender, the behavior she displayed during the US Open finals on Saturday merited penalties, and Williams should have known that she was especially likely to incur such penalties when dealing with umpire Carlos Ramos.

Ramos has been at the center of several violations matters the past few years. Many of the calls he made were against high-profile male players, and in most cases, the men complained about the calls. Another matter even involved Serena’s sister, Venus, who was warned over the same coaching signals issue for which Serena was called on Saturday.

Here’s a look at some of Ramos’ history:

(more…)

Patrick Mouratoglou admits to coaching Serena during finals

Patrick Mouratoglou admitted to coaching Serena Williams during the finals of the US Open, but he says it’s no different from what any other coach does.

Mouratoglou was interviewed by ESPN’s Pam Shriver after Williams lost the US Open finals to Naomi Osaka on Saturday and pointed out the selective enforcement of the coaching violation by chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

“I’m honest, I was coaching. I don’t think [Serena] looked at me, so that’s why she didn’t think I was (coaching). But I was, like 100 percent of the coaches on 100 percent of the matches. So we have to stop this hypocrite thing. “[Osaka’s coach] was coaching every point too.”

Mouratoglou then suggested tennis needs to change some of its code rules.

“Two rules are killing tennis. Not to allow a player to express their feelings is stupid. It’s not a big deal to break a racquet,” Mouratoglou said.

He pointed out how suspicious it was that he received a coaching violation, which he says was the first in his life.

“Not once in my life. Very strange to happen in a grand slam final,” he said.

Williams was hit with a first violation for Mouratoglou coaching her with a hand signal in the second set. She berated him afterwards and insisted she did not cheat. Then she was hit with a second violation for smashing a racquet after being broken. She received a penalty point for the second violation. She then yelled at the umpire and demanded an apology for the previous violation. Williams called Ramos a “thief” for stealing a point away and was hit with a third violation, this time for verbal abuse. That was the third violation, which took a game away.

She ended up losing 6-2, 6-4 to Osaka, marking the 20-year-old’s first grand slam win.

Whether or not there was selective, potentially ill-timed enforcement of rules, Williams still had the ability to control things after receiving the first warning. Rather than composing herself and playing better, she got worse, continued to blame the umpire, and dug herself a bigger hole. That is on her, not the umpire.

Serena Williams furious after being assessed game and point penalties

Serena Williams umpire

Serena Williams was furious with chair umpire Carlos Ramos after being assessed a penalty point and later game during the second set of her match against Naomi Osaka in the US Open finals on Saturday.

Williams smashed her racquet after being broken by Osaka to make it 3-2 in the second set.

The violation for smashing her racquet combined with her previous coaching violation meant that Williams was assessed a penalty point. She learned of the penalty when Osaka went to serve down 2-3 in the second set and the score was announced as 15-0. Williams was furious about being hit with a penalty point and went off on Ramos:

Williams then insisted to Ramos that she didn’t receive coaching earlier in the match and demanded an apology. Her yelling at Ramos did not help. Ramos did not change his mind, while Williams was clearly rattled and lost her focus. Osaka held serve at love and then broke Williams on her serve to take a 4-3 lead in the second set.

Serena continued to berate Ramos during the side change and was hit with a third violation for verbal abuse, which made it a game penalty and turned the score to 5-3. She called him a “thief” for stealing a point away.

Osaka went on to win the set 6-4 and capture the match for her first grand slam title. Williams meanwhile accused Ramos of sexism for penalizing her for her verbal abuse, saying male players get away with so much worse.

Serena Williams tells off chair umpire: ‘I don’t cheat to win’

Serena Williams umpire

Serena Williams told off the chair umpire during her match against Naomi Osaka in the finals of the US Open on Saturday.

Williams received a coaching violation during the second game of the second set after being given a hand signal from a member of her box. Williams was not happy with the violation and approached Carlos Ramos to set him straight.

“If he gives me a thumbs up, he’s telling me to come on,” Williams said. “We don’t have any code. I know you don’t know that. I understand why you may have thought that was coaching. But I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win; I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”

As awesome as Williams’ response was and as great as her stated attitude about cheating is, her actions are unsportsmanlike. One of the chair umpire’s jobs is to monitor for potential coaching violations. A hand signal could be a sign to tell a player about a particular strategy. Williams is trying to tell an umpire how to do his job and intimidate him into not calling anything against her in the future. That’s the sort of behavior that would result in a technical foul call in basketball or an unsportsmanlike conduct in football.