Former leading umpire Richard Ings has backed Carlos Ramos against allegations of sexism and other improprieties in the wake of Serena Williams‘ US Open final defeat.
Williams was docked a game in the crucial second set of her match against Naomi Osaka for calling the experienced Ramos a “thief” – and she used her subsequent post-match press conference to call her penalty “sexist”.
Her stance was swiftly backed by the WTA Tour’s chief executive Steve Simon, and US great Billie-Jean King, both of whom also questioned the initial code violation handed to Williams for on-court coaching.
But Ings, who penalised John McEnroe a game during a match against Boris Becker in 1987, hailed Ramos for his decisions and said he umpired the match “absolutely perfectly”.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four‘s Today programme, Ings said: “Carlos Ramos is an umpire with 40 years of experience.
“He handled that match absolutely perfectly. He saw violations and he had the courage of his convictions to call them when he saw them.
“I support him 110 per cent. It was one of the best officiating jobs that I’ve seen in years.”
Former British tennis number one Annabel Croft said that, while she had sympathy for Williams, her claim that she had been treated differently because she is a woman was wide of the mark.
“I definitely feel sympathy for her because I was actually commentating on the match and I witnessed the whole thing unfolding and it was incredibly dramatic,” Croft told ITV‘s Good Morning Britain.
“But Carlos Ramos is not, I don’t believe, sexist. He’s a very strict, very decisive umpire, who takes nothing from any opponent whether they’re male or female.
“I’ve seen him giving time violations to Rafael Nadal out there on the court many, many times, but he’s someone who just plays it by the rule book.
“It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net, what icon they are, what status they are in the game, he will just play it by the rules.”
Great Britain Fed Cup captain Anne Keathvong also suggested Williams was in the wrong, tweeting: “Sexism is a problem in the wider picture of tennis but I don’t believe the decisions Carlos Ramos made that night had anything to do with it.”
Novak Djokovic moved into joint third on the all-time list of male grand slam singles champions by beating Juan Martin del Potro to win the US Open.
Djokovic is now level with Pete Sampras on 14 titles and, after following up his Wimbledon triumph by making it back-to-back slam successes, is closing in once more on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
With his two-year physical and mental dip apparently firmly behind him, questions will again be posed as to whether he can catch Nadal on 17 or even Federer’s 20.
After all the drama this tournament has created, capped by Saturday’s extraordinary women’s final, the headlines here were all made for the right reasons as Djokovic triumphed 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 6-3.
Del Potro was the sentimental favourite as he attempted to win a second slam title nine years after his first, having suffered two serious wrist injuries, the second of which he feared would end his career.
But Del Potro needed more than just goodwill to beat Djokovic at his best, he needed his mighty forehand to be flawless and the rest of his game to back it up.
This was not that day, although even at his absolute best he would have struggled to hold off Djokovic on this form.
The Serbian, who had won 14 of their previous 18 meetings, looked to be in total control at a set and 3-1 up but Del Potro began to really unleash on his forehand and the match came alive.
Had Del Potro managed to get across the line in the 20-minute Djokovic service game that followed to lead 5-3, things might have played out differently, but Djokovic hung on.
The protagonists seemed a little spent when it finally ended and settled for the tie-break, where Del Potro led 3-1 but paid for missed forehands as Djokovic claimed six of the next seven points to end a 95-minute set.
Djokovic had only won two of his previous seven finals at Flushing Meadows, losing to four different players, but his sole loss from two sets up at a grand slam came eight years ago so Del Potro’s chances of mounting a miracle recovery appeared slim.
Even more so when Djokovic broke to lead 3-1 in the third set, only for his poise to desert him a little again and allow Del Potro to hit straight back. On break point, Hughes awarded a time violation against Djokovic, much to the Serbian’s annoyance.
But he took the argument no further, and promptly broke Del Potro again before clinching victory with a smash and dropping to the court in celebration.
Djokovic will climb above his opponent to third in the rankings and has a chance to finish the year back at number one – a remarkable feat considering the manner in which he began the season.
Serena Williams has been fined a total of $17,000 for her offences during the US Open final.
The 23-time grand slam champion lost her cool after being given a warning for coaching from the stands early in the second set against Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
She was penalised a point for a second offence, smashing her racket, and then a game after she verbally abused umpire Carlos Ramos, calling him a liar and a thief. That put Williams 5-3 down in the second set and she went on to lose 6-2 6-4.
The verbal abuse offence was the most serious and for that Williams has been docked $10,000. The remainder of the fine is made up of $4,000 for coaching and $3,000 for racket abuse.
She earned $1.85million in prize money for reaching the final.
This was supposed to be the day when Williams finally equalled the all-time record of 24 grand slam singles titles won by Margaret Court and more than 23,000 fans packed into Arthur Ashe Stadium eager to be a part of her moment.
But instead the final descended into rancour as Williams and Ramos, a very experienced Portuguese official, took centre stage, overshadowing a remarkably composed performance from 20-year-old Osaka in her first grand slam final.
Williams was furious when she was given a coaching violation after Ramos spotted a hand gesture from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, telling the umpire she would rather lose than cheat.
Mouratoglou later admitted to ESPN that he had been coaching, but Williams insisted she had not seen the signal and that they had never discussed such communication.
Mouratoglou, who has worked with Williams since 2012, alleged Osaka’s coach Sascaha Bajin was also coaching, and it is an open secret that such conduct is commonplace.
On-court coaching is allowed on the WTA Tour, but Williams is one of the few players who never uses it.
After dropping serve in the fifth game of the second set and smashing her racket, Williams was given an automatic second violation, resulting in a point penalty, something of which she initially seemed unaware.
She continued her argument with Ramos at the next change of ends and accused him of being a thief for taking a point away from her. Ramos gave her a third violation, which resulted in a game penalty.
A tearful Williams argued her case with tournament referee Brian Earley and grand slam supervisor Donna Kelso, claiming a male player would not have been punished in such a situation, but a tournament statement later confirmed the umpire’s decisions were final.
Asked in her press conference what she would have done differently in hindsight, Williams became increasingly emotional as she said: “I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief, because I thought he took a game from me.
“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’. It blows my mind.”
It is not the first time Williams has run into trouble with officials at Flushing Meadows. In a semi-final against Kim Clijsters in 2009, she was penalised for threatening a line judge and put on a two-year probation.
Two years later, during a final loss to Sam Stosur, Williams called umpire Eva Asderaki “a hater” and “unattractive inside” for calling a hindrance penalty against her and was fined.