Caroline Wozniacki admits the issue of possible gender bias in tennis officiating never crossed her mind before Serena Williams accused umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism during the US Open final, but believes the Portuguese official could have handled the situation differently.
Speaking ahead of her participation at the Wuhan Open on Sunday, Wozniacki discussed the incident that saw Williams receive three code violations from Ramos that led to a game penalty in the final she lost to Naomi Osaka earlier this month.
Williams was infuriated when Ramos issued her a coaching code violation when he saw her coach Patrick Mouratoglou signal her during the second set. Wozniacki did not necessarily back Williams’ sexism claims but believes the Ramos should have given the American a soft warning before issuing a direct coaching violation.
“I never really thought about it ‘till that happened because to me, I’m so focused on just myself and our tour. I never really tried to compare us to the men,” said Wozniacki when asked if she ever felt she was being treated differently by an umpire compared to a male player.
“But I think Serena has a point. I think she has a point in some of what she’s saying. I think everyone has the right to their own opinion.
“I think that when you’re going into a Grand Slam final, you’re fighting for your 24th Slam, you’re fighting to be, on paper, the best player to ever have played the game – in my opinion I think she already is – I think there will be emotions involved. I think there will be some feelings there when you go onto the court.”
The WTA allows on-court coaching while Grand Slams do not and Wozniacki noted how Williams never requests Mouratoglou for coaching visits during any of her tour matches.
“If someone knows Serena, if someone has followed her career, she never gets coaching, and she never asks for the coach on court,” continued the Australian Open champion.
“I think as an umpire, as a great umpire, you obviously have to be a good umpire to be in the finals, you should also be aware that this is the situation. I think you should be aware that Serena is not one of those people that really looks up to the box or communicates with the box. That’s really what I can say in this situation.
“In my opinion I think that in the situation he probably should have given her a soft warning, and if he felt this is the way it was, said that ‘Your team is making signs, you need to make them stop’. That’s, in my opinion, the way that the umpires usually do it.
“If you were to be strict on this and say, ‘Any signs, anything’, then you should have taken both players and the coaches before the match and said, ‘Hey, I’m really strict today. I tolerate nothing. It’s the way it is’. That’s also okay.
“I think there should be some strict rules, and I think those rules are kind of a grey zone. I think every match should be the same.”
Some of the people who have come to Williams’ defence have pointed out the fact that not all umpires give coaching violations when a coach is spotted making signals from the stands. Mouratoglou admitted on camera that he was coaching during the final –which is strictly against the rules – but quickly mentioned that all coaches do it and never get called on it.
“I think there should just be maybe some clear rules. Either it’s allowed or it’s not allowed. If it’s not allowed, then it should be very strict. If it’s allowed, we are allowed coaching on the court, it’s allowed to have a little bit of encouragement or whatever, then it’s allowed,” said Wozniacki.
“I just think either way there should be some clearer guidelines. That’s really it. I think in general the umpires are very good with that.
“I think as a player you just kind of want to know. If you get a soft warning before, even if you think there’s nothing going on and you get a soft warning, at least you’re aware of it. That’s fair. But, you know, I think sometimes the player feels a different way than the umpire. Sometimes the umpire’s right, sometimes the player’s right.
“At the end of the day I think if you had clearer rules it would just be easier for everyone.”
Wozniacki, who is seeded No. 2 in Wuhan, opens her campaign against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson, who beat Timea Babos on Sunday via retirement 6-7 (0), 6-4, 4-1.
It’s only its second year but Laver Cup is already creating some fun new traditions like the team-mate introductions made by the players during opening night.
This year in Chicago, the 1.7m Diego Schwartzman stole the show when he introduced his fellow Team World member John Isner to the stage by describing the 2.08m American as his “twin”.
Tournament debutant Novak Djokovic introduced his team-mate Federer by saying: “I am the player that I am today because of him. We played some thrilling matches over the last decade. Please give him a big hand: Roger Federer”.
Watch more highlights from the gala in the video above.
Last year, the inaugural edition of the Laver Cup gave the tennis world an unforgettable moment when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played doubles together for the first time, en route to Team Europe’s victory over Team World at the O2 Arena in Prague.
This weekend in Chicago, another dream team could potentially materialise for the first time with Federer not ruling out a doubles match-up with team-mate Novak Djokovic.
Making his tournament debut, Djokovic joins Federer, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and Kyle Edmund on the Team Europe squad (Jeremy Chardy is the alternate), captained by Bjorn Borg.
They take on John McEnroe’s Team World that includes Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, Kevin Anderson, Diego Schwartzman, Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, who was a last-minute replacement for Juan Martin del Potro (Nicolas Jarry is the alternate).
The teams were presented on Wednesday at Pritzker Pavilion in the heart of downtown Chicago and Friday’s lineup will be announced on Thursday when Borg and McEnroe reveal their picks.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 19, 2018
Asked about the possibility of playing doubles with Djokovic, Federer said: “I would like to play with Novak, I hope he feels the same way. We are figuring it out as we speak. Internally what the best teams? Because we have a lot of singles guys on the team, last year also Rafa he did play more doubles than us sometimes in the past. I haven’t played doubles since last year, so I’m firing, I won my match last year, so I feel like I’m really confident from that match still.
“All kidding aside, we will be practicing our doubles this afternoon, John in case you want to come watch that,” Federer told McEnroe.
“The doubles is going to be really crucial as we saw last year. I think they are unfortunately the favourites for all three matches in the doubles and this is where we have to come up with a couple of super teams ourselves.
“Having Novak on the team with his momentum winning the US Open for singles is key I think down the stretch maybe, but also in doubles it’s going to help because he is struggling a lot with the return lately,” joked the Swiss.
McEnroe interrupted saying: “Don’t believe a word he’s saying, he’s trying to get sympathy, that’s incredible.”
Djokovic, who has won the US Open and Wimbledon in the last three months, was sidelined with an elbow injury last year when the Laver Cup was staged for the first time.
“This is event is very unique in many ways,” said Djokovic on Wednesday.
“Obviously it’s my debut this year but I was watching it on TV last year and it was very exciting to see a new concept. To see many of the guys that shared rivalries throughout their careers, like Roger and Rafa for example, played on the same side of the court, supported each other. It’s a great team spirit. That’s something we’re missing a little bit [in tennis] because we play mostly for ourselves and our team but it’s mostly individual tournaments.
“Aside from this, Davis Cup is the only team competition that really counts, historically, so it’s great to see a concept like this, and this format working well. I wanted to be a part of it and have this great experience.”
HOW THE LAVER CUP WORKS
Founded by Federer’s management company Team8, in collaboration with Tennis Australia, USTA and Brazilian billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, the Laver Cup is a team event inspired by golf’s Ryder Cup, and it carries the name of tennis legend Rod Laver.
It pits two six-player teams against each other, one representing the best players from Europe, and one comprising of the best players from the rest of the world.
This year’s Laver Cup takes place at the United Center in Chicago from September 21 to 23.
There are three singles and one doubles on each day of the event, over five sessions. A one-set doubles match will determine the winner if points are level on Sunday.
Both singles and doubles are best-of-three sets with ad scoring. In the event of split sets, the third set is a 10-point match tiebreaker.
Each match win will be worth one point on Friday, two points on Saturday, and three points on Sunday. If points are 12-all on Day 3, a doubles set with a tiebreaker will decide the Laver Cup champion. The winning team must reach 13 points. An exhibition match will be played after the trophy ceremony if the overall winner is decided after Match 9.
Each player will play at least one singles match during the first two days. No player will play singles more than twice during the event. At least four of the six players must play doubles. No doubles combination can be played more than once, unless for the doubles decider on Day 3, if points are tied at 12-all. Match-ups will be determined one after the end of each day’s play through the exchange of lineup cards by the captains.