US Open 2018: A playground for sexism?

The world watched in utmost awe as Serena Williams fought back tears while standing up to the umpire for blaming her for receiving coaching. Apparently, her coach, Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou, signalled to her after she won the first game of the second set. Subsequently, a point was reduced from her score for smashing her racket in frustration and she ALSO received a pivotal penalty for giving up a game, accusing the chair umpire of lying. It resulted in her defeat to the 20-year-old Japanese player Naomi Osaka and the chance to tie the all-time record for Grand Slam singles titles slipped from her grasp.

We have seen Serena, arguably the best female player to step on the court, in various frenzies of emotion. We have witnessed her enraged. We’ve seen her absolutely fierce and fiery after a major victory. But never has the world seen her in this state; eyes full of tears, voice trembling as she furiously defends her position and honour.

Williams was fined $17,000 for the code violations which included calling the umpire a “liar” and a “thief”.

Many were quick to jump to her side, applauding her for taking a stand to defend her name and expressing disapproval at the umpire’s behaviour.

While others condemned her actions, calling them extremely inappropriate and defying the sportsman spirit.

Ramos, the umpire, has been on the receiving end of such actions from the opposite gender as well. The whole scenario quickly turned into a debate of whether the umpire’s actions were sexist. Williams argued on court claiming that she was being treated rather harshly and that a male player in the same situation would be pardoned. The Women’s Tennis Association backed up Serena, WTA chief executive saying, “Yesterday 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 v 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.”

There are several instances where men have behaved rather outrageously during a game and gotten away with it. Back in 2016 French Open, Nick Kyrgios of Austrailia blew up at Ramos after being given a warning for yelling at the ballboy. His exact words were to the officials were, “That’s bulls**t. Are you kidding?” “Bulls**t, f***ing bulls**t.” He received neither a point penalty nor a game penalty.

During a semifinals match, Andy Murray literally kicked a ball at the umpire’s head and despite the ATP rulebook stating otherwise, he simply received a stern look, NOT EVEN A WARNING!

Even Rafael Nadal has threatened Ramos previously at the 2016 French Open, saying, “Give me the warnings you can, because you will not referee me anymore,” and he too got away penalty-free.

In this very tournament, defending champion Novak Djokovic glowered at Ramos and questioned the official’s sanity after being docked a first serve for stalling. He has issued a mere warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Sue Baker, the BBC tennis commentator, defended Williams by mentioning that although Ramos was following the rules, Serena had a very valid point. She also stated that robbing the crowd of a third set was highly unfair and that sometimes the rule book needs to be rewritten.

When male players embrace the heat of the game and get fired up, it’s considered a testosterone-driven reality of the game and even appreciated on occasions. When women do it, she’s “hysterical” and “overly-emotional”…in what world is that okay?!


Mark Knight, a cartoonist, has published a piece in Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun tabloid, showing the tennis star having a tantrum on the court at the US Open after she lost to Naomi Osaka on Saturday.

It has faced immense backlash for being racist and depicting Williams as a white woman. Some even pointed out that it took the tones of previously published racist cartoons from the Jim Crow era.

Knight refused to accept the racist undertones, defending his piece by stating that he was unaware of any similarities. He argued,” I can’t undraw the cartoon. I think people have just misinterpreted. Maybe there’s a different understanding of cartooning in Australia to America … It was a cartoon based on her tantrum on the day and that’s all it was.”

He was further supported by Damon Johnston, Editor at Herald Sun, and the executive chairman of News Corp Austrailia; Micheal Miller.