KatherineGray, Staff Reporter
More Than Just A Bad Day
Anger and confusion are natural responses to stress, whether they come from having a bad day or being judged unfairly. The question for Serena Williams, world-renowned tennis star, is which one caused her to go ballistic when she lost the U.S. Open?
She claims the referee, Carlos Ramos, was sexist for calling her out for several offenses that ultimately cost her the game. These infractions include obtaining help from her coaches during the game, breaking her racket and verbally assaulting an official. All three of these offenses are faux-pas in the world of tennis. She claims that if she were a man and had done the same things, she would not have been penalized, and therefore, what he did was unfair. The question then becomes, should Mr. Ramos just have let her violations slide? The answer: no.
Tennis is unique in the sports world as it is one of, if not the only, sport where you cannot get help from coaches during a match. The sport as a whole is rather special, especially in terms of how “proper” everything has to be. Even though this can be a source of stress for athletes, it is what makes tennis so enjoyable for some. This need for order can also affect the coaches, as seen in Mr. Ramos, who is known to keep in line with the rules of tennis and administers justice accordingly. While he arguably should have given her a verbal warning first, she was breaking the rules regardless.
As a woman myself, I agree with him. This was not an act of sexism, especially as Mr. Ramos is known to consistently point out any rule-breaking regardless of the athlete’s gender. To say that male tennis players are never called out for the aforementioned infractions is factually incorrect. Even if it is uncommon, they are still frequently called out for their wrongdoings, such as when Benoit Paire was penalized for racket breaking in Aug. Ultimately, violating the rules is not admissible, and unfortunately for Ms. Williams, she simply was not in the clear.
Regardless of the validity and justification for his call, her reaction was unacceptable. Of course she was likely stressed after losing such an important match, but fussing at the referee rather than respectfully asking for why he called her out is just not good sportsmanship. Ms. Williams is very talented and has a large fan base, and thus carries great clout in the tennis community. However, that is exactly why seeing her so irate is upsetting. Most people expect more from their role models, and thus, hope for more from Ms. Williams.
Thankfully, there is always a chance for redemption, and I certainly hope that after reflecting on all of the events and backlash, she learns something and it helps to make her an even better example for young people across the globe.
Act of Sexism
On Sept. 8, Serena Williams lost to Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open Women’s Championship, ending one of the most controversial tennis matches in recent history. Williams caused a great uproar on the court after she was penalized three times throughout the match. The first penalty was for being coached during the match, the second was for smashing her racket on the court and the third was for calling the referee a “thief.” Williams was penalized a whole game for these infractions.
After the match, Williams commented on how this was “an act of sexism” because male tennis players would not be penalized if they acted the way she did. Serena Williams’s actions are perfectly logical because she is taking a stand against sexism and fighting for all female tennis players.
Right after she was penalized for the first time, the atmosphere in the stadium shifted as the fans noticed Williams started to become extremely unhappy and frustrated. Though Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admitted he did advise her, he believed she was not aware he was and stated that it is a regular occurence. Even though this happens in every match, referees have never penalized a male tennis player for this.
Williams was left in disbelief because of this inequality and this led her to smash her racket on the court, her second penalty. Male tennis players break rackets very often during matches though they are never penalized for it. For example, Novak Djokovic is notorious for breaking rackets in frustration, but he has never faced any consequences for it. This took Williams over her tipping point.
She went ballistic on the referee saying that his calls are not fair at all and tried to seek justice. She demanded an apology and screamed at him about how this is an act of sexism, leading to her third penalty. She began to realize that there was nothing she could do to change the calls and decided to continue the game and express her opinions after.
Williams explained that she was frustrated not because she believed she did not commit penalties, but because those actions have no consequences in a men’s match. Williams is a social warrior and is using her popularity to speak about the unknown inequality that takes place in tennis. She is fighting for all women and will not give up until equality is achieved.