Serena Williams had a really shitty week at work. She got frustrated, lost her shit, and got into trouble with the powers that be. After accusing her immediate supervisor, US Open umpire Carlos Ramos, of being a thief (for taking a point away from her) and then abusing a racket, Serena was fined $17,000 for her behavior.
Serena later defended her outburst saying that female athletes aren’t afforded the same leeway when it comes expressing their emotions as their male counterparts. Sexism? In sports? Hard to believe! But ok. The USTA (US Tennis Association) and the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) both supported Serena’s claims of sexism and decried the subjective way in which penalties are doled out. Their support has angered the umpires and they’re now threatening to boycott any matches in which Serena is playing.
According to The Times UK, umpires feel that Ramos was “thrown to the wolves” by the USTA and they are not going to sit in their high perches and get yelled at by a woman in a tutu anymore!
An anonymous official told The Times that there was a growing consensus that umpires were not supported by the USTA on several occasions, and that Ramos was thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it. Umpires are discussing whether they could take action to stand up for their profession. One suggestion being floated is to refuse any match assignments involving Williams until she apologies for vilifying Ramos and calling him a “liar” and a “thief”.
It sounds to me like the umpires using Serena as a scapegoat for their overall dissatisfaction of the USTA. The Times says that they were already “unhappy with the haphazard organization of this year’s US Open” and seeing their colleague get verbally reamed just for doing his job was the just the cherry on top. Serena undoubtedly acted a damn fool, but last time I checked, she was still one of the greatest athletes of all time who’s had to fight sexism and racism both on and off the court her entire career. I can’t really see getting too bent out of shape because she got heated at work. Sometimes she plays nice, sometimes she gets stabby. I can relate.
Tennis is so weird. On the surface, it’s such a genteel sport but then you remember all the times it’s been anything but. They’re no hissy fits more iconic than 80’s John McEnroe hissy fits. He’s probably the reason the umpire chair is higher up than it was before. Nobody wants to get rage spittle their eye at work.