No matter the sport, umpires don’t want to be the ones being talked about after it’s all over.
But Carlos Ramos, the Portuguese tennis umpire at the centre of the US Open women’s singles final controversy, is receiving a lot of flack over his three penalties imposed on Serena Williams. He docked a point and then a game from the star.
Williams lost the final in straight sets to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
She was later fined US$17,000 (AU$24,000): US$10,000 for verbal abuse, US$4,000 for a coaching violation, and US$3,000 for racket abuse.
After the match, Williams accused Ramos of sexism.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things and I’m here fighting for women’s rights, women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff – and for me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark,” she said.
“He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’. I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us. The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman.”
It’s clear there are double standards in tennis – you only have to look at the recent code violation handed to French player Alize Cornet for turning her shirt around to see that.
Here are a few times male tennis players came to blows with umpires without consequence.
Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon, 2018.
Similar to Williams' at the US Open, Novak Djokovic got into an argument with Ramos after receiving a penalty for racket abuse at this year's Wimbledon.
He had a meltdown while battling his Japanese opponent Kei Nishikori in the second set, bouncing his racket on the ground.
But unlike Williams, Djokovic was not further punished when he argued with Ramos about the decision.
"You’re saying in the point if I toss my racket like this I’m ruining the court?" Djokovic argued. "You think I ruined the court by tossing the racket two metres behind the baseline? Be honest! Come on!"
Djokovic complained about a double standard as Ramos did not penalise Kei Nishikori for a similar offence.
“Double standards, my friend. Double standards,” the Serb said after approaching Ramos and pointing his finger angrily at him.
Jack Sock, French Open, 2018.
American Jack Sock embarked on a major tirade at chair umpire Vieira Sousa during his French Open clash with Jurgen Zopp.
Sock became more and more agitated as the match went on and called into question a string of calls made by Sousa.
Eventually, his temper reached its peak and he asked if we could request a new umpire, calling Sousa "atrocious".
Nick Kyrgios, Wimbledon, 2015.
Nick Kyrgios's rap sheet is... long.
During a 2015 Wimbledon match against Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, the Aussie threatened to stop playing when contesting a call in the third set. At a heated dispute with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, Kyrgios was heard calling someone "dirty scum".
He was not reprimanded on court, and also escaped a fine post-match after he claimed he was directing the abuse at himself, not the referee.
"It wouldn't bother me one bit if they fine me," he said at the post-match press conference.
Roger Federer, US Open men's final, 2009.
Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open Men's Final.
Curses multiple times at the chair umpire and tells him: "Don't f-cking talk to me." pic.twitter.com/hmiuGbrdNe
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) September 9, 2018
Roger Federer lost the 2009 US Open men's singles final to Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer complained to the umpire, Jake Garner, during the match that Del Potro was taking too long to decide if he was going to challenge a call or not.
The umpire suggested that Federer should stop complaining, but the microphones then picked up Federer telling the official: "Don’t tell me to be quiet, okay? When I want to talk, I’ll talk. I don’t give a s*** what he said... Don't f***ing talk to me."
Jimmy Connors, US Open, 1991.
Now, to be fair it'd be inexcusable for a referee to ignore this kind of abuse these days, but Jimmy Connors still escaped without punishment for one of tennis' most famous tirades.
David Littlefield, the chair umpire, sat calmly as Connors hurled more and more abuse during a match against Aaron Krickstein in 1992. He issued no penalties, letting the show go on.
Here are just a few of his lines:
- "Get out of the chair. Get your ass out of the chair! You're a bum! I'm out here playing my butt off at 39 years old and you're doing that?"
- "You are an abortion! Do you know that?"
Twitter users also had lots to say about the alleged double standard Williams called out:
I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized. And I’ve also been given a “soft warning” by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy. Sad to mar a well played final that way. https://t.co/xhBzFZX8Wq
— James Blake (@JRBlake) September 9, 2018
We all know women - ESPECIALLY women of color - are held to completely different standards pf behavior than men. Yesterday, we saw that in action. For the USTA to penalize @serenawilliams for an outburst 1/10th the size of many male outbursts is beyond unfair.
— Peter Paige (@ThePeterPaige) September 9, 2018
When you really assess the career-long racist & sexist double-standards Serena Williams has faced, the most amazing thing about her might be how LITTLE she has gone off. She deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award for Restraint
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 10, 2018
Why are people constantly saying @serenawilliams had an “outburst”? Men have passionate moments in sports and we applaud. Women have “outbursts” and it becomes a problem. Please stop! #SerenaWilliamsIsTheGoat
— Trevor McDonald (@trevor_mcdonald) September 10, 2018
I'm drunk and just want to say, if @serenawilliams left tennis all together the sport would crumble like the stock market. She made tennis what it is and the association should realize that.
— Trav (@TravOfficial_) September 10, 2018
I feel like 99.3% sure Beyoncé will remix Serena Williams saying "You owe me an apology" in either a live performance or forthcoming song/album and it will be amazing. ????❤️????
— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) September 9, 2018
Calling all expecting Mums or Mums with kiddies 5 and under. We need your help!
Plus, you get the chance to win one of THREE $100 gift vouchers. Take our quick survey now.