In the wake of Serena Williams’ controversial outburst at the women’s US Open final, the headlines have been flooded with opinions.
From questions over whether umpire Carlos Ramos’ calls were fair to questions over double standards and sexism, there’s a lot to discuss.
But there’s one fact we’re not talking about.
While Grand Slam tournaments often end in a big pay-day for professional tennis players, like singles titles winners Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams’ opponent Naomi Osaka who each took home AUD$5.35 million, it’s incredibly different for umpires.
Despite being a gold-badged judge, which makes him one of the highest-rated officials in professional tennis, the chair umpire of Williams and Osaka’s controversial game Carlos Ramos was paid a mere AUD$633 for his time.
Umpiring is so easy from the top of the grand stand.
I can also confirm that Carlos Ramos earned his pay in that match. His pay? US$450 which is the daily rate all USTA umpires are paid. https://t.co/Uzn992GlhVAdvertisement
— Richard Ings (@ringsau) September 10, 2018
The news, which was shared on Twitter by former professional chair umpire Richard Ings, means Portugese official Ramos earned just $85 more than Williams earned for each second she was on the court yesterday.
Despite being at the centre of the controversy for his decision to penalise Williams, there’s no denying that the 47-year-old’s pay packet is considerably low for someone who is calling the big decisions in one of the most important games of the year.
Ramos is also one of the most experienced match officials in tennis, presiding over the 2012 men’s Olympic singles final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
“Carlos has been one of the top tennis umpires in the world since the mid-1990s,” former head of officiating for the International Tennis Federation Mike Morrissey said.
It's not the first time tennis officials pay rates have been in the news.
Back in 2011, the New York Times shared that many gold-badged chair umpires skipped the US Open due to it's low pay rate.
“We’ve been saying this for years and years,” Norm Chryst, a retired gold badge chair umpire, said at the time. “The U.S. Open makes more and more each year, but very little of that goes to the officials. Gold badge umpires don’t want to come here. Why? A lot of the answer is money.”
At the time, officials received just $350 – a rate which has now been almost doubled to $633.
In 2011, The Guardian also reported on the working life of tennis officials, with tennis umpire Matt Porsz sharing that the weekly pay for a chair umpire can range from AUD$450 to AUD$1,700.
While some days, Porsz' work day is over by 10:30am, other days can be spent entirely at a tournament.
What do you think? Should tennis umpires be paid more?