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Friday, September 20, 2019

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.

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