Novak Djokovic believes chair umpire Carlos Ramos “should not have pushed Serena Williams to the limit” during the US Open women’s final on Saturday but disagrees with WTA CEO Steve Simon, who put out a statement supporting the American’s accusations that the Portuguese official was sexist.
Williams received three code violations from Ramos during the final. The first was a coaching code violation warning because the umpire spotted her coach Patrick Mouratoglou signal her — something the French coach later admitted to doing. The second was a point penalty for racquet abuse because Williams smashed her racquet after getting broken by Osaka, and the third was a game penalty for verbal abuse, after the American called him a “liar” and a “thief”.
Williams later blasted the umpire and described his actions as “sexist” claiming she wouldn’t have received those code violations if she was a man. Simon sided with Williams’ allegations, releasing the following statement the day after the final.
“Yesterday also brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches. The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done last night,” said Simon.
Djokovic was asked to comment on the incident after he won his final against Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday and whether he agreed with Simon that officiating during the women’s title decider was sexist.
“Look, I love Serena, first of all. I really felt for her yesterday. Tough thing for a chair umpire to deal with, as well. We have to empathise with him. Everyone was in a very awkward situation yesterday. A lot of emotions. Serena was crying. Naomi was crying. It was really, really tough,” said Djokovic.
“But I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final. Just maybe changed — not maybe, but he did change the course of the match. Was, in my opinion, maybe unnecessary. We all go through our emotions, especially when you’re fighting for a Grand Slam trophy.”
The ITF has come out in defence of Ramos’ decisions, describing him as “one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis” and noted that his actions were “re-affirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams [$17,000] for the three offences”.
Djokovic has had his own run ins with Ramos, including an incident at Wimbledon this year where the Serb was given a warning for gently bouncing his racquet off of the ground. Djokovic called out Ramos for “double standards” when the Portuguese did not issue the same warning to his opponent Kei Nishikori, who also threw his racquet during the match. There was another incident between Djokovic and Ramos involving a time violation at the French Open last year.
Still Djokovic refused to describe Ramos’ officiating during the women’s final as sexist.
“I don’t see things as Mr. Simon does. I really don’t. I think men and women are treated in this way or the other way depending on the situation. It’s hard to generalise things, really. I don’t see it’s necessary really to debate that,” said Djokovic.
“I just feel like, as Serena said yesterday in the closing ceremonies, Osaka deserves to have her moment. As for Serena, she knows I love her. She really inspires everyone. To see her still being so dedicated and so committed to this sport, it’s inspiring really to me and to many tennis players, both men and women, around the world.”
Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who is a good friend of Williams’, posted a live Instagram video to discuss the issue and while she agrees that a male player wouldn’t have been treated the same way, she feels the real problem lies in the fact that rules are not being enforced by all umpires in a consistent manner.
“People are emotional, he did the right thing [regarding the third code that resulted in a game penalty] but you can’t deny there have been a lot worse situations and there hasn’t been any action to it. There’s too much grey area in some of the rules and it bothers me. I’m not trying to justify anybody’s actions,” said Azarenka.
“I’m just saying that the first thing that started it [the coaching code], in my opinion, wasn’t right.”
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