He wasn’t going to let a woman talk to him that way.
September 9, 2018 4:05 AM   Subscribe

Ramos had rescued his ego and, in the act, taken something from Williams and Osaka that they can never get back. Perhaps the most important job of all for an umpire is to respect the ephemeral nature of the competitors and the contest. Osaka can never, ever recover this moment. It’s gone. Williams can never, ever recover this night. It’s gone. And so Williams was entirely right in calling him a “thief.”
Sally Jenkins for the Washington Post on how the umpire at the US Open Final robbed Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams of their match.
posted by MartinWisse (134 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a clip of all the exchanges between Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos, who handed her three violations, including a game penalty.
• Serena Williams' dispute overshadows Naomi Osaka's final win [YouTube][ESPN]
posted by Fizz at 4:36 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


The most important job for an umpire is to enforce the rules. That's their only job, it's why they're there.

This article is complete bullshit. Watching Fizz's linked video, Williams repeatedly berates the umpire, it wasn't one outburst.

Meanwhile, the umpire's initial penalty was correct - her coach admitted that he was coaching her from the stands.
posted by Spacelegoman at 4:51 AM on September 9 [37 favorites]


The most important job for an umpire is to enforce the rules. That's their only job, it's why they're there.

The thing is though, there are so many other instances of men behaving in this same way (and routinely worse) and they never get called on their shit, but with Serena being a woman and a black woman at that, there's all this extra bullshit that gets brought to her matches.

When men behave this way, they're passionate or intense. When women behave this way, they are unprofessional or emotional. It's the double-standard at the heart of this entire situation that has rightfully pissed off a good portion of the Internet.
posted by Fizz at 5:00 AM on September 9 [215 favorites]


Perhaps the answer here is that umpires should be enforcing the rules against the men, which they clearly don't, rather than applying the same relaxed approach to the rules more widely. OTH I confess I don't know what rules explicitly govern issuing a game penalty. There is obviously a massive difference in the way umpires behave towards female tennis players though and that needs to be fixed. Still congratulations to Osaka on her first Grand Slam, 6-2 in the first set is an achievement against a player of William's caliber.
posted by diziet at 5:11 AM on September 9 [8 favorites]


For some context:
• John McEnroe’s angry outbursts [YouTube]
• Chicago 1982 Michelob - Connors vs McEnroe flare-up [YouTube]
• Jimmy Connors calls Ivan Lendl gay slur [YouTube]
• Worst Tennis Player Tantrums in History [YouTube]
posted by Fizz at 5:13 AM on September 9 [26 favorites]


Which men, when? Not a challenge, a genuine question. I don’t watch much tennis.
posted by Segundus at 5:13 AM on September 9


Perhaps the answer here is that umpires should be enforcing the rules against the men, which they clearly don't, rather than applying the same relaxed approach to the rules more widely.

The wider issue is that rules requiring courtesy--like the "verbal abuse" rule here--are routinely, in multiple contexts, interpreted differently in their application to white men vs everyone else. Nadal is considered forceful and passionate in situations where Williams is considered abusive for exactly the same reason that women are routinely considered as more abrasive than men for exactly the same behaviours in other professional contexts. It's not a problem mysteriously limited to tennis that can be solved by better training for tennis umpires.
posted by Aravis76 at 5:17 AM on September 9 [113 favorites]


There is obviously a massive difference in the way umpires behave towards female tennis players though and that needs to be fixed.

For example, from just a few days ago.

• US Open apologises after Alizé Cornet penalised for briefly removing shirt [The Guardian]
“Like many people getting ready for work in a hurry, the French -tennis player Alizé Cornet mistakenly put her top on back-to-front. The 28-year-old quickly realised her error after returning from a 10-minute heat break during a match at the US Open in New York, where players have been -sizzling in temperatures of up to 35 degrees.

What she didn’t expect was that by walking to the back of the court and swiftly switching the pink-striped top the right way round, briefly flashing a black and red sports bra, tennis would be plunged into a new sexism row. According to an interpretation of the rules, female players are not allowed to remove their shirts on court, despite the fact their male counterparts do so freely. The chair umpire presiding over the match wasted no time issuing the world No 31 with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. Cornet’s facial expression suggested she was confused and angered by Christian Rask’s decision but he was unmoved.”
But the rules don't seem to apply to the men.
“Prominent figures in tennis rushed to highlight an apparent gender divide in how the rules are applied. Rafael Nadal, the men’s world No 1, has a habit of removing his shirt at the end of every match because he sweated so much and felt that taking it off would prevent him from developing a cold. Novak Djokovic and other male players took their shirts off between games on Tuesday in New York to cool themselves with ice and towels in the sweltering conditions.”
posted by Fizz at 5:20 AM on September 9 [65 favorites]


Sorry if I'm posting a lot, but I have a lot of feelings on this. I'm a life long Tennis fan (playing and watching) and it is some bullshit with how women are treated on the court compared to the men. There's lots of evidence for this kind of double-standard. I hope this draws some attention and pushes for some real change in the sport. I'll step away now.
posted by Fizz at 5:22 AM on September 9 [91 favorites]


The wider issue is that rules requiring courtesy--like the "verbal abuse" rule here--are routinely, in multiple contexts, interpreted differently in their application to white men vs everyone else

Exactly the point I was hoping to make.
posted by diziet at 5:23 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


The fact that some media calls this a "shocking meltdown" is illustrative of the problem. A shocking meltdown would be to fire a bunch of expletives at or near the ref - you know, like the men used to do. "Shocking meltdown" my ass. She handled it really well imho (esp at awards ceremony).

The shirt reversing incident is completely insane.
posted by parki at 5:35 AM on September 9 [43 favorites]


Williams has been dealing with this kind of thing for a long time (NYT link). I quit watching tennis a couple of years after that, because of bullshit calls, poor sportsmanship by various people, and blatant racism and class prejudice in the sport.

This is not to say that we should cut Williams slack based on history. No, she's right and history makes that painfully clear.
posted by BibiRose at 5:54 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


"shocking meltdown" is just another way of dismissing her as an angry black woman.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:00 AM on September 9 [138 favorites]


Ramos behaved shamefully and I hope he's wracked with guilt over what he did to Williams and Osaka for the rest of his life. None of us--the players or the spectators--got a women's final and a men's final. We got two men's finals.

Osaka spent her life looking up to Williams, and to face off against her idol in a major must have seemed like a dazzling, bewildering dream. Williams is a fucking legend and Osaka played beautifully--she very likely would have won even if that man hadn't inserted himself into the competition. But Ramos stole that moment from her. Fuck him completely.
posted by duffell at 6:15 AM on September 9 [65 favorites]


I think the anger of the crowd tells us everything we need to know about where we are now, and where we’re going. Sports are entertainment, and you get nowhere by pissing off your audience.

The moment can never be recovered, no. But it won’t be forgotten, and it won’t happen again.
posted by panglos at 6:22 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


I'm not a big tennis fan. When I do tune in to tennis it's to watch Serena Williams. I'd guess that a good chunk of the tennis audience is like me. I'm not that interested in men's tennis. I'm mildly interested in women's tennis. I'm mostly interested in Serena Williams playing tennis. It's amazing to me that the people running tennis can't control their sexism long enough to exploit their star attraction.
posted by rdr at 6:23 AM on September 9 [22 favorites]


The crowd was also angry because they couldn't hear the reasoning/"fight" behind the penalty game. Osaka was unclear on what happened.

Watch Venus' face when her eyes briefly fall on the "coaching" -- this was not anything unusual (for anyone). I'm frustrated that people fall back to McEnroe as example of players yelling at umpire; it's commonplace in contemporary players.

Serena's grace during the award ceremony and post interview was amazing.
posted by armacy at 6:45 AM on September 9 [6 favorites]


I'm sympathetic that she felt wronged by the coaching violation, which resulted in a warning because it was the first violation. However, the umpire did not force her to destroy her racquet after she lost a point to Osaka, which was a second violation, the penalty for which is losing a point.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:05 AM on September 9 [9 favorites]


Why are men allowed to referee/umpire women's sports?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:06 AM on September 9 [50 favorites]


For some context: John McEnroe

Ha! I immediately thought of him. The ESPN video is the most tennis I've watched since the 1980's so I don't really know what's going on, but I am not surprised that Williams "but I'm a woman!" defense, and her coach's "but the rules are stupid!" didn't win the day. True there's obviously sexism in the sport generally, and I'd agree that those particular rules are bad, but those are both things you should probably stop saying in this situation after having 30 seconds to think about it.
posted by sfenders at 7:18 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Serena cheated. She got caught. She lied about it to the umpire. The fact that she said that "he was giving me a "thumbs up"" indicates that she was looking at her coach, who was giving her illegal advice. He admitted as much after the match. This was not sexism, racism, or any other "ism". He was a hard ass that called her on her bullshit, and the situation blew up from there. This is entirely on Serena, and she owes Ramos, the public, and especially Naomi Osaka the very apology that she was demanding of Ramos.
posted by Optamystic at 7:21 AM on September 9 [17 favorites]


I'm sympathetic that she felt wronged by the coaching violation, which resulted in a warning because it was the first violation. However, the umpire did not force her to destroy her racquet after she lost a point to Osaka, which was a second violation, the penalty for which is losing a point.

She was wronged by that call. And the racket violation would have garnered only a warning but for the (incredibly improbable) "coaching" violation.

Rebecca Traister puts it well here: "So during a naturally supercharged Grand Slam final between veteran superstar and the young woman trying to unseat her, a male umpire prodded Serena Williams to anger and then punished her for expressing it. In doing so, he took from her not just the point, not just the game, but ultimately the tournament, even if—and this seems likely—she would have lost it anyway. She was punished for showing emotion, for defiance, for being the player she has always been—driven, passionate, proud and fully human."
posted by BibiRose at 7:25 AM on September 9 [43 favorites]


John Mcenroe has been profiting from his outbursts for decades.
posted by steamynachos at 7:27 AM on September 9 [11 favorites]


I don't think she cheated, but her coach wasn't doing her any favors with his talk after the match. Ramos is a known stickler for the rules and players like Nadal and Djokovic have also had run-ins with him.

This article has the most nuanced take of the many I've read.

The only person I feel bad for in this whole thing is Naomi Osaka.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:29 AM on September 9 [26 favorites]


Congrats to Osaka! She played an outstanding tournament.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:33 AM on September 9 [11 favorites]


The only person I feel bad for in this whole thing is Naomi Osaka.

I'm with you there.
posted by Urtylug at 7:34 AM on September 9 [10 favorites]


"her coach admitted that he was coaching her from the stands."

"Serena cheated. She got caught."


OH PLEASE.

The reason a lot of tennis fans are incensed are that EVERYBODY IS COACHED, ALL THE TIME, from the box/stands. It is ALWAYS a bullshit call that umpires only call on players they don't like. Here's a fuckin' chair umpire that GOT DOWN FROM HIS CHAIR AND COACHED THE MALE PLAYER HIMSELF at this same tournament a week ago!

Tennis needs to EITHER remove the coaching penalty, since as it is currently used, favored players are allowed infinite coaching and disfavored players are penalized at the whim of the umpire; OR not allow coaches to watch from the stands if coaching is that big of a deal.

Finally, Serena actually didn't cheat (if we think coaching is cheating) -- her coach cheated, and she was penalized for her coach's behavior. Which is also some bullshit, punishing someone for another person's actions. The appropriate sanction would be to eject the coach.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for athletes who lose their tempers on the court/field, since that should be coached out of you in high school (if nothing else, you will eventually sabotage your own game by losing your temper). But while Serena's temper is a problem, it's also true that she's been subjected to sexism and racism about it for her entire career, being penalized for tantrums that male players and white players get away with, and that initial penalty was a bullshit penalty any way you slice it.

And the US Open needs to get its umpiring house in order, since the entire tournament has been marred by very poor and capricious refereeing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:48 AM on September 9 [175 favorites]


Thank you for the video link. I loved listening to Williams stand up for herself early on, "I'm not a cheat". I have so much sympathy for her in that moment.

People here arguing "rules are rules and they are enforced" are some naive bullshit. Rules are always enforced with discretion and judgment. Particularly in sports. Ramos made decisions, he was not a robot executing a program. He made the wrong decisions in this scenario and ruined the finals of the US Open. As folks say above Osaka is also a victim of his bad umpiring.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on September 9 [44 favorites]


Thank you for the video link. I loved listening to Williams stand up for herself early on, "I'm not a cheat". I have so much sympathy for her in that moment.


Also when those officials came out. She was standing there with her hand on her heart, speaking passionately. She was civil. I'm surprised that people think she was over the top in any of that, honestly.
posted by BibiRose at 8:10 AM on September 9 [11 favorites]


Those who don't watch much tennis may not appreciate the exceptional nature of Ramos' penalty calls. Awarding a full game penalty in a Grand Slam final is something that's possibly never happened before in the entire history of tennis.

It's not good enough that Ramos was technically correct to call that coaching violation-- he had an important responsibility to exercise discretion, and consistency, in calling the rules. Given that the most knowledgeable people in the world of tennis agree the no-coaching rule is routinely violated but rarely enforced, his decision to invoke it at that moment, in that context -- in the championship match of a Grand Slam, against a 23-time Grand Slam winner and arguably the greatest champion in the history of the sport, male or female -- is just breathtakingly insulting. He displayed exceptionally poor judgment and I think he absolutely does owe Serena an apology.

Having handed out a first violation, the point penalty after Serena smashed her racquet was not in Ramos' discretion, but his decision to hand out a full game penalty -- once again, in the context of a championship final -- was absolutely, no question, 100% at his discretion, and profoundly offensive. He let his own ego influence his calling of the match, and I actually think he deserves some kind of sanction for it.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 8:11 AM on September 9 [143 favorites]


I can't believe what a bunch of entitled jerks the spectators were, jeering and booing during the trophy presentation. They had no self awareness until Williams set them straight, pointing out how awful they were behaving. I think it's totally fine and appropriate for the crowd to express displeasure with bad officiating during the match itself, but to see them take away that moment from Osaka was heartbreaking.
posted by theory at 8:46 AM on September 9 [12 favorites]


Yeah, that was some disgraceful work by that umpire (and the officials who came out and backed him up). I have so much sympathy for Osaka as well as for Williams in this, they both deserved better.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:59 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


[Folks, there is a lot of nuance and thought in this thread and the various linked articles. Please skip the sententious pronouncements if you're not going to engage with them.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:20 AM on September 9 [16 favorites]


I think both that male players are often allowed some pretty egregious behavior under the “temperamental genius” nonsense, and ALSO that the rules of civility in sport are actually pretty important and we shouldn’t be trying to downplay bad behavior with “being passionate”. These rules should absolutely be enforced evenly. But that means holding male players to the same standard, not letting female players behave badly because male players do.

Also this stuff about how it shouldn’t be enforced against her because she’s such a good player or because it’s a championship match is exactly the problem with the sport. Rules should be enforced against novices and champions equally, at small and high levels - otherwise it’s rewarding bad behavior if you’re good enough to get away with it.
posted by corb at 9:45 AM on September 9 [9 favorites]


One thing I noticed when I watched a video of Serena trying to communicate with Ramos and then with the 2 officials who came onto the court was that it made me very uncomfortable and seemed to go on forever.

Then I checked the time, and it was less like 4 minutes or less. And I'm a Serena fan!

We are all socialized to believe deep down that women should not stand up for themselves, and that women of color in particular have no right to do so. And even though I think and right about this stuff all the time, I still feel these stupid feelings the first time I see Serena Williams trying to stand up for herself.

So then I wonder why other people, especially white folks, feel so confident in their ability to judge whether Serena Williams was behaving egregiously. Don't do it, fellow white folks, is what I want to say.

Just don't do it.
posted by allthinky at 9:53 AM on September 9 [25 favorites]


People here arguing "rules are rules and they are enforced" are some naive bullshit.


Naive might be the generous interpretation.

White woman here. Tennis fan since the 70s.

We all bring our own experiences and rigid expectations to this. This uncomfortable moment seemed symbolic, so penetrating into other issues. (For ex., as someone who's also a fan of say, Sharapova's, how glad I was she wasn't the opponent. What the optics would be THEN.)

I have swallowed gallons of bile in my own career, and suffered for both speaking up and remaining passive. IOW I'm quite familiar with "can't seem to win no matter what you do." A position a prominent black woman can certainly seem to be in.

I remember the time Serena excoriated a lineswoman and how terrible and shameful I thought that was. And while admiring what Serena said in her first remarks to this ump, I reached the point of wishing she'd just refocus on the match.

BUT I also remember that the Williams sisters didn't play Indian Wells for a number of years because of white fans calling out the N-word. And I remember just last week, and the USOpen treating another female player differently than a male player WRT needing an outfit change.

And I also remember the 1000 loathesome POS actions of white male players. Jimmy Connors in the pre-internet days yelling, 'Why do you have a WOMAN (lines person)," with no penalty for such a horrible remark, and not a peep in the media about his misogyny.

Lleyton Hewitt (who I liked as a player) making a racially charged comment about a linesperson's bias.

Fucking John McEnroe year after year making me embarrassed to be an American.

Djokovic, who's given me a vague but bad vibe at times.

Andy Murray (who I now like) and his spoiled-child mannerisms.

And if someone else can't look at this bigger picture and question discrepancies between white men versus others' experiences, please try harder to step outside your own skin.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:14 AM on September 9 [30 favorites]


"Also this stuff about how it shouldn’t be enforced against her because she’s such a good player or because it’s a championship match is exactly the problem with the sport."

I think Dixon's point was that referees at the top level of the sport, especially in championships, should be EXTRA reluctant to put their thumb on the scale and should, as much as possible, allow the athletes to decide the game and not the refs. You see it a lot in football and basketball, where in the last few minutes of a close game, refs are reluctant to call minor penalties unless absolutely necessary. Because when a game is won or lost based on the referee's calls, nobody feels good about it, and the refereeing should never be the determining factor in a championship.

I think Osaka would have won anyway, but Ramos has taken that away from her by forcefully and repeatedly injecting himself into the match in ways that are NOT customary and were clearly not necessary. He made the match about him, rather than the players or the game, and he had other choices equally within the rules. But he close to taint Osaka's victory, and he chose to aggressively punish a black woman player. He could have exercised discretion. He chose to take the game away from the players and make it about the reffing. That's not the definition of "fair," it's the definition of unfair and unsportsmanlike.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:21 AM on September 9 [47 favorites]


A twitter thread of several occurrences where Ramos did not dock points:

* Djokovic Gets Into Argument With Same Umpire Carlos Ramos at French Open, multiple violations did not result in docked point or game.

* Djokovic again accusing Carlos Ramos of "double standards", appearing to feign throwing a ball at him, resulting in multiple verbal warnings and zero point or game loss penalty.

*
Nick Kyrgios telling Ramos his umping is ‘fucking bullshit’ after being given a violation. No game penalty, no point penalty.

* Nick Kyrgios screaming at Carlos Ramos for a foot fault, no point or game penalty.

* Andy Murray and Ramos, a violation resulting in Andy shouting "stupid umpiring" which does not result in a point loss or a game penalty.

* Rafael Nadal threatens Ramos here, after receiving a time violation. No point or game penalty followed.

* Andy Murray literally kicking a ball at an umpire. Does not receive a a warning, a violation penalty, a point penalty or a game penalty.

* CoCo Vandewegh tells umpire calls are baloney and asks how can you be that wrong? Does not receive violation, point penalty or game penalty.

* CoCo Vandewegh with two code violations after calling her opponent a fucking bitch. No point or game penalty.

* Victoria Azeranka telling a chair off. No point penalty, no game penalty.

* Another Azeranka meltdown: two violations and loses her shit. No game penalty. "Victoria Azarenka goes all John McEnroe on a tennis umpire in Madrid: 'You've got to be kidding me!'"

"Adding this here today to say thx to everyone who reached out with something positive to say about this. The point is not to say this didn’t happen to McEnroe once 35 years ago (thx white dudes!) but does point out the insane inconsistencies in calls & why ppl are mad."

"I also am not saying she didn’t have a complete meltdown on court. She did. It sucked to watch. I wouldn’t have wanted to see any player combust like that. But the facts of inconsistencies stand."
posted by AlSweigart at 10:27 AM on September 9 [96 favorites]


Here's video of Federer yelling at the chair ump... and Roger is considered one of the best behaved men on the tour. There's never recrimations or outrage when the men do this stuff. Think about Kyrgios, who's a trainwreck half the time he plays (and that's before we even get into the "chair up gets down to give him a FUCKING PEP TALK mid-match!) and while he gets some racist comments for sure, there's more overwhelming support along the lines of oh, the poor tortured genius, I hope he settles down so we can appreciate his genius. Never, HE HAS BESMIRCHED THE GAME FOREVER like we see whenever Serena does pretty much anything.
posted by TwoStride at 10:30 AM on September 9 [10 favorites]


Yup, Serena has been putting up with bullshit her entire life. I don't blame her for her "outburst," and it's absolutely correct that those same words coming from a white man or even a white woman would not register the same way. Serena was firm and clearly upset but she was controlled. "Civility" in tennis has always been code for some racist and classist bullshit. It's 2018 and the French Open has decided that Serena's covered-up and medically necessary (and badass) catsuit is no longer appropriate. The culture--in tennis and the world at large--is built so that a black woman who dares to speak out or stand up for herself is seen as nothing more than an angry black woman, beaten down and written off. Yes, players should respect each other and the game, but white men and even white women have been pushing the bounds of sportsmanlike conduct for years without getting docked points for it.

And Naomi Osaka! She's so young, and played so well, and has become the first Japanese player to ever win a grand slam. Fucking historic, and what should have been a joyful celebration is wrapped up in what Ramos did. Her win will always have a virtual asterisk and with the way things were going, she likely wouldn't have needed those extra five points to win and now they're stuck there forever.
posted by j.r at 10:31 AM on September 9 [21 favorites]


Also this stuff about how it shouldn’t be enforced against her because she’s such a good player or because it’s a championship match is exactly the problem with the sport. Rules should be enforced against novices and champions equally, at small and high levels - otherwise it’s rewarding bad behavior if you’re good enough to get away with it.

I would agree with this only if Ramos' call was consistent with how the rule had been enforced, for everyone, throughout the tournament. But since that was apparently not the case, then given the significance of the match, and yes, given the benefit of the doubt I believe this particular player has earned, for Ramos to decide that this penalty needed to be called, at this moment, against this player, he needed to have a very strong case that Patrick Mouratoglou's hand signals were truly giving Serena too much of an unfair advantage to let it go. Given the video evidence, I don't think he had that very strong case.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 10:31 AM on September 9 [10 favorites]


Was Patrick Mouratoglou giving her the ol' thumbs up, or is there more to it? Like, what kind of hand signal would give her an advantage - it seems like a weird rule? Is it to prevent him from signalling that she should serve up a low-breaking knuckle-ball via some elaborate sign language? Can someone who knows tennis (which I do not) explain the ' no coaching' rule a bit?
posted by parki at 10:47 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


How about everyone was wrong?

Jesus. Just typing that feels like saying there was bad people on both sides.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:05 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


According to CNN, she's been fined $17,000. "US Open tournament referee Brian Earley administered fines of $4,000 for the coaching violation, $3,000 for racket abuse and $10,000 for the verbal abuse, the USTA said. "
posted by parki at 11:13 AM on September 9


Former tennis pro James Blake on Twitter:

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.
posted by TwoStride at 11:20 AM on September 9 [27 favorites]


So women and people of colour are yet again policed for their thoughts/actions being punished for daring to push back against those in power and draw attention to the fact that what is happening is not right and not normal. It seems, there's no limit, it just keeps going in some form or another. I'm off to the fucking fuck thread.
posted by Fizz at 11:20 AM on September 9 [28 favorites]


I haven't been able to find a video clip, but during the ESPN broadcast the announcers showed a replay of his gesture-- both hands in front of him at about chest level, palms toward him, thumbs up, as though holding open an imaginary paperback book, and moving his hands toward and away from his chest. The commentators interpreted this as possibly signaling that Serena should come into the net. This ESPN story (arguing that the rule needs to be changed) quotes a portion of the rule:
Section L in "Article III -- Player On-Site Offense" in the Grand Slam Rulebook, begins: "Players shall not receive coaching during a match (including the warm-up). Communications of any kind, audible or visible, between a player and a coach may be construed as coaching."
That same story includes video clips (ads at the start, sorry) of Patrick admitting he was coaching but saying he's never once been called for a violation, and of Chris Evert explaining that coaches gesturing from the stands is routine.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:20 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]




Meanwhile, in Serena's semi-final match, the commentators mentioned repeatedly that they were surprised her opponent wasn't looking over to her coach's box for tips and support. It was treated as completely normal and expected and necessary when the player is white and blonde...
posted by TwoStride at 11:23 AM on September 9 [27 favorites]


Legend Pam Shriver on Twitter:
Why was there no responsive leadership earlier in match given Serena’s past emotions on this @usopen court? The referee & supervisor should have helped defused the conflict sooner. 2 of the 3 code violations were poor judgements. A match for history deserved better leadership.
posted by TwoStride at 11:30 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]


I come from this in a bunch of directions. Like, I have reffed recreational sports matches. If I had a player lose their rag over a decision and starting breaking things and abusing/threatening me, I wouldn't have much sympathy.

On the other hand, it does sound like the umpire was departing from the usual norms of the sport and harshly penalising things that usually slide. So there does seem to be something to Serena's complaint.

Osaka was winning anyway. It's a real shame that her achievement has become lost in this mess.
posted by Urtylug at 11:41 AM on September 9


If I had a player lose their rag over a decision and starting breaking things and abusing/threatening me, I wouldn't have much sympathy.

Except that a huge--in fact, the central--part of this is that when men do it, it's not seen as abusing/threatening. Implicit bias is real, and it matters in refereeing as in every other aspect of life.
posted by TwoStride at 11:47 AM on September 9 [7 favorites]


Those who have chosen to view this article, and this matter concerning Serena Williams, as a simple matter of, "Them's the rules, he enforced the rules" are making a conscious choice to view this in a vacuum.

So I'm going to post some information here for those who may be interested in stepping outside of the vacuum, with the hope that this information may help them to appreciate the context not only of this article and its arguments, but the greater reality to which it speaks.

The required and unavoidable context here is not just gender, but the intersection of race and gender.

This is not the first time it has happened to Serena Williams. Or black female athletes. Or black women in general. Journalist Anne Helen Peterson wrote in her 2017 book "Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman":
"Bad sportsman," in this case, was code for choosing to play the sport her way - a critique rarely levied on her white, male counterparts.

The most vivid example came in 2009, when, angry with a foot fault, Williams yelled at a line judge, threatening to "stuff this racket down your throat." The profanity-ridden exchanged was called "graceless," a "tantrum" and "a disgrace" - sentiments that amplified when, in an appearance at the MTV Music Awards the next day, she treated it as a joke. A letter to The New York Times crystallized much of the public reaction: '"The disrespect that Serena Williams showed the world of tennis - the professionals who spend their time and energy playing and administering this sport and the fans who play and support the game - demands a severe and swift penalty."

Williams was fined $10,000.00 for the incident, but as another letter to the editor pointed out, her treatment was a clear example of a "double standard of decorum," as Roger Federer had recently been fined just $1,500 for cursing at an umpire. "Is the standard gender or racial?" As Williams would later say, looking back at the reaction, "I just really thought that was strange. You have people who made a career out of yelling at line judges. And a woman does it, and it's like a big problem." Williams is right: the USTA has long tolerated outbursts from white men, including Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. As critical race scholar Brittney C. Cooper puts it: "White anger is entertaining; Black anger must be contained." (h/t Scotty Crowe, [TW Link])
Microaggressions like this happen to black women every day.

There's even a name for it. Misogynoir, coined by the feminist scholar Moya Bailey.

When those of us who are white - and yes, full disclosure, I'm a white woman - consistently fail or refuse to see or acknowledge this, and are in turn refusing to admit that we benefit from a system that is rigged in favor of white supremacy.

I understand it's difficult for those of us who are white to admit that our actions, reactions, behaviors and beliefs are the result of racism that's become so structural and commonplace we're too myopic to see it- especially when we profess to be anti-racist, anti-Trump, liberal, progressive, and so forth. That's because White Fragility is also a real thing (the book discussed in that New Yorker article is Robin DiAngelo's recent work "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism", a required read for EVERY white person.)

The abovelinked New Yorker article summarizes the issue well (emphases my own):
"DiAngelo, who is white, emphasizes that the stances that make up white fragility are not merely irrational. (Or even comical, though some of her anecdotes—participants in a voluntary anti-racism workshop dissolving with umbrage at any talk of racism—simmer with perverse humor. “I have found that the only way to give feedback without triggering white fragility is not to give it at all,” she remarks wryly.) These splutterings “work,” DiAngelo explains, “to reinstate white equilibrium as they repel the challenge, return our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy.” She finds that the social costs for a black person in awakening the sleeping dragon of white fragility often prove so high that many black people don’t risk pointing out discrimination when they see it. And the expectation of “white solidarity”—white people will forbear from correcting each other’s racial missteps, to preserve the peace—makes genuine allyship elusive. White fragility holds racism in place.

DiAngelo addresses her book mostly to white people, and she reserves her harshest criticism for white liberals like herself (and like me), whom she sees as refusing to acknowledge their own participation in racist systems. “I believe,” she writes, “that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color.” Not only do these people fail to see their complicity, but they take a self-serving approach to ongoing anti-racism efforts: “To the degree that white progressives think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived.” Even the racial beliefs and responses that feel authentic or well-intentioned have likely been programmed by white supremacy, to perpetuate white supremacy. Whites profit off of an American political and economic system that showers advantages on racial “winners” and oppresses racial “losers.” Yet, DiAngelo writes, white people cling to the notion of racial innocence, a form of weaponized denial that positions black people as the “havers” of race and the guardians of racial knowledge. Whiteness, on the other hand, scans as invisible, default, a form of racelessness. “Color blindness,” the argument that race shouldn’t matter, prevents us from grappling with how it does."
What Sally Jenkins' article, and broadly the events concerning Serena Williams last night, have forced into full public display is that white fragility is, indeed, what ensures racism lives on.

The white media is just as complicit. One example that compares the NY Post headline about Serena to a recent one about a white male baseball player [TW link].

Roxane Gay, earlier today on Twitter, pointed out a similar issue with this morning's NY Daily News cover page [TW link].

I'm not a perfect, racism-free white person. It is uncomfortable and painful to admit that about oneself. But you can't fix a problem you're a part of when you are unable to admit the role you, yourself, play in it. I hope other white people reading and talking about this today will join me in turning their gaze inward, and begin to critically evaluate the role they play in the perpetuity of white supremacy.

If you're a white man, I hope you can view your internalized sexism not as just sexism but as a sexism that intensifies when it intersects with race.

If you're a white woman, and you're appalled by the behavior shown to Serena Williams today, I hope you move forward with recognizing how often this happens on a daily basis in your workplaces, your communities and neighborhoods. So many women of color feel like they have to dial back their anger because they are penalized far more harshly than white women for expressing any other emotion than calm, any other behavior than acceptance or acquiescence. Then, when they bother stand up for themselves like Serena did last night, the response is ten times as punitive as anything a white woman would receive. Let alone a white man.

And if you want to say that everything I just said is a "non-argument" because not only is Serena Williams black, but Naomi Osaka is also black (Haitian-Japanese)? Do yourself a favor and read about colorism. Racism affects all black persons but it can be very different depending on just how light or dark their skin is.

As Sally Jenkins wrote at the end:
Ramos had rescued his ego and, in the act, taken something from Williams and Osaka that they can never get back. Perhaps the most important job of all for an umpire is to respect the ephemeral nature of the competitors and the contest. Osaka can never, ever recover this moment. It’s gone. Williams can never, ever recover this night. It’s gone. And so Williams was entirely right in calling him a “thief.”
It's true. In the end, TWO women of color were robbed because one white man decided last night was the night he was going to finally take a stand on a (historically unenforced, til last night) "coaching" technicality, and then a broken racket, and then being called out on his BS by a tennis player who made the mistake of not only being black, but a woman.

It is white male umpire Carlos Ramos's selfish, power-mad, intrinsically racist and selfish behavior - not Serena's behavior - that has robbed both of them and the world of ever knowing who truly won the match that night. He poisoned it and should pay the $17k fine that was levied against Serena.

Naomi Osaka played a fantastic game, and it's likely she still would have won even if the stunts Ramos pulled hadn't occurred. But she'll always have to feel like her win has an asterisk. Likewise, Serena will never get to know if she lost only because of Ramos or because she was bested by Naomi Osaka.

The only person here who deserves blame - which is Sally Jenkins' entire point - is Carlos Ramos.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:48 AM on September 9 [90 favorites]


If I had a player lose their rag over a decision

Maybe rethink your turn of phrase in the midst of this discussion...
posted by elsietheeel at 11:59 AM on September 9 [37 favorites]


Maybe rethink your turn of phrase in the midst of this discussion...

Ah, yeah, sorry. That bit of slang really doesn't fit this situation well.
posted by Urtylug at 12:06 PM on September 9


I'm sure you're not reading this, US Open, but shit like this makes me feel totally justified in not giving a flying fuck about tennis. I'm not saying other sports are better (about the only sport I actually pay any attention to is baseball), but if you're trying to compete for attention span in this day and age, being shitty on top of everything else is the wrong way to go. They can find a cliff to throw themselves off along with the NFL.
posted by axiom at 12:27 PM on September 9


If I had a player lose their rag over a decision and starting breaking things and abusing/threatening me, I wouldn't have much sympathy.

Please explain what Serena did to "threaten" literally anyone.
posted by duffell at 1:10 PM on September 9 [10 favorites]


I'm not a perfect, racism-free white person.

The idea that I wasn't free from racism as a person of native heritage but who benefited from a rasing that was mostly white-seeming used to offend me as an affront. Now I can't help but look askew at folks that get offended in the same way that I used to. It's a privileged and narrow view that only the most pedantic, ignorant, and/or heartless can maintain. And yet it is the norm all too often.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:16 PM on September 9 [7 favorites]


Another example of differences in fan attitudes: If I had $50 for every time someone mocked the sounds Seles or Maria ("Shriekapova") have made while hitting, I'd be rich as a top 10 player.

I rarely-to-never have heard anyone mention male players' loud grunts.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:28 PM on September 9 [8 favorites]


Please explain what Serena did to "threaten" literally anyone.

Serena: "You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live."
posted by Urtylug at 1:29 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


do you, uh. do you think that means she's planning to kill him.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:36 PM on September 9 [39 favorites]


do you, uh. do you think that means she's planning to kill him.

Did I say that?
posted by Urtylug at 1:39 PM on September 9


Please explain what Serena did to "threaten" literally anyone.

Serena: "You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live."


So men facing reasonable consequences for racist and sexist actions is "threatening" now?

Honestly, as a woman I sometimes wonder why I bother with the rhetorical question mark, because life experience comes through loud and clear that it is indeed the case.

Read what others have said above about the context. It makes a difference.
posted by fraula at 1:50 PM on September 9 [42 favorites]


tbh i can't tell what you're on about at all, which is why i asked.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:55 PM on September 9 [13 favorites]


Yikes, it is scary that this can be described by anyone as a "meltdown".

It just seems like straight misogyny. And I m not familiar with tennis, but it just seems very disruptive of the game.
posted by eustatic at 2:04 PM on September 9 [8 favorites]


So men facing reasonable consequences for racist and sexist actions is "threatening" now?

Whether or not it was a reasonable threat she was justified in making (and I'm pretty much coming around to the idea that it was) it was nonetheless very clearly a threat, yes.
posted by sfenders at 2:38 PM on September 9


Some context of you're not a regular tennis watcher:

Penalties on tennis scale up if they are in the same category ("unsportsmanlike conduct" in this case, I believe, don't get me started), from warning, to point, to game. It's almost unheard of to be docked a point or game out of order, so some of those ramos examples are not exactly equivalent. Also racquet abuse is an automatic penalty, it's a given she would be penalised for that.

Secondly, Ramos is known as a stickler, and he's called out big male players like djokovic and Nadal for coaching and time violations that others let slide in the past.

Finally, docking a game in a slam final might be unprecedented, its extremely unusual, I've never seen it in decades of watching tennis. Whilst it's true that having a go at the umpire over three games is also unusual, it's not unprecedented (hello fognini).

Ramos should have done what I think almost any other umpire would have done in that situation, told Serena that if she keeps going at him that she going to lose a game due to conduct. He didn't give her that opportunity, and whilst I'm no fan of the behaviour, every and any player deserves a clear warning before getting docked a game, especially in a grand slam final.

Ultimately I feel like he interfered more with the match than Serena's behaviour did, which I think is really a cardinal sin in umpiring. The coaching warning was especially wack.
posted by smoke at 2:39 PM on September 9 [18 favorites]




I like watching tennis but only really pay attention when Serena is playing. I've seen her glorious triumphs and comebacks, watched the foot fault debacle and other lows, and have noticed that where every other superstar is treated as such there frequently seems to be an edge against Serena. Even female commentators would still bring up the US 2008 final years later trying to cast a shadow on Serena. For another thing, the lineup for Serena always seems to start with top ten players in the first round where other top players meet much lower ranked opponents. Blaming it on the computer draw again and again means only the computer was programmed that way.

I hope Ramos is fired. I hope the penalty against Serena is reversed and an official apology issued. Dreaming I know, but it's the least. The whole WTA is such a corrupt (white) old boys - and girls - network it needs to burn to the ground.

After AISweigert's list above, I hope any trying to argue "it's the rules" realizes what they're really doing. This is nothing short of atrocious and if it can happen at the highest levels, what about the everyday?
posted by blue shadows at 4:09 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


the lineup for Serena always seems to start with top ten players in the first round where other top players meet much lower ranked opponents.

This is just not true. For the vast majority of her career, Serena has been a top seed, usually number one. It has been literally impossible for her to meet high ranking opponents in the early rounds of slams.

This year has been different (though not for long, I'd say) because Serena's ranking went down a bit cause she was out after having a baby for so long.
posted by smoke at 4:52 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


It's worth noting she was still seeded for the US open and thus couldn't meet a high ranked opponent until the 4th round.
posted by smoke at 4:53 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I'm not talking about seeding itself. I'm not an expert on this, but comparing draws it really does seem like they are often unfair to Serena versus others of similar rank. My friend who is an avid fan has pointed out examples so often it stretches coincidence.
posted by blue shadows at 5:38 PM on September 9


RBG when asked how many judges should be women, she famously replied "all of them". It had been all men for so long, after all. Maybe it's time for all tennis umpires (or whatever they're called) to be women of color. Something tells me getting snippy about "sass mouth" would no longer be an issue... Just my two cents. I think siding with the guy in the chair takes an enormous amount of willful blindness to history and context, which is such a white guy thing is basically is the main white guy thing. This whole thing makes me so crazy angry, I have no idea how Serena Williams manages the level of professionalism she does. (BTW That tutu move of hers was a pitch-perfect cultural critique.)
posted by hilberseimer at 5:50 PM on September 9 [11 favorites]


As a former long time competitive player I'm all for the umpires cracking down on the prima donna bullshit the good players get away with. It was 100% the least pleasant aspect of the sport and tennis needs a major overhaul in terms of not producing a bunch of asshole junior players and the pros need to admit their part in that. But this was an awfully weird place to start enforcing the new more polite version of the sport. Ramos is a stickler but even if he had some long time beef with Williams he shouldn't have treated her any differently than a male player.
posted by fshgrl at 5:52 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


My father-in-law is a USTA-certified umpire and he chairs amateur tournaments in Florida. He's a huge tennis fan -- watches the Tennis Network non-stop -- and a Serena fan, too. He was, of course, watching this match.

His philosophy is, essentially, let the players play. His take (paraphrased): Ramos was within his rights to call the coaching violation, and probably called it because he saw it happening regularly. He's not sure if he would have called it; it would depend on what he saw. Interestingly, he said he wouldn't have penalized her for smashing the racquet because it was during a break between games, not between points during play.

He also would not have penalized her for yelling at him. One, he said, it's an umpire's job to let the players vent, to defuse things or warn them to cool it if gets heated, and get back to playing the game. And two (this is from his days as a professional hockey player), the umps' or refs' actions should never be seen as deciding the game; again, let the players play.
posted by martin q blank at 6:20 PM on September 9 [24 favorites]


tbh i can't tell what you're on about at all, which is why i asked.

I thought it was pretty obvious. I guess you have to be sensitive to the massive power differential in play, or to have spent time in life caring about the importance of such power differentials in general. Otherwise you'll be obliviously blind to it. While you're joking about whether you thought Urtylug was suggesting that Williams would have Ramos killed (ha ha ha), only to claim a little later that you're genuinely unclear on what could possibly be considered a threat, here are some clues to determine who is the more powerful individual in the tennis world, Wiilliams or Ramos. One of them is the premier tennis player of their generation. They are literally unique in the world at their profession. They possess and have honed fantastically rare ability, intelligence, athleticism, conscientiousness, drive. They have exhibited incredible dedication and focus and consistency at the very highest level over many many years. They have a huge fan base, they have personal connections with hundreds of current and former players and champions - this is a list that took thirty seconds to write, and a sports journalist could write pages and pages more. Anyone who has ever played a sport competitively knows the insane hierarchies. X can crush anyone in their neighbourhood, you can't even get a point off of her, but she gets routinely crushed by Y and others like Y (X can barely get a game or two per set), all of whom get routinely crushed by Z and others like Z (on many days Y can barely return their serve), up and up and dizzyingly up until the tightest of circles, and in that circle at the very top is Williams. The other is probably decent at their profession, but could easily be exchanged with hundreds of others of similar ability.

If Williams genuinely wanted to make sure Ramos didn't umpire any of her matches again, indeed, if she wanted to make it difficult for him to pursue his career the way he has done so far, she could do so. The fact that it's unlikely that she would doesn't matter at all. I thought most people by now had caught up to the importance of such power disparities in cultures. A wealth measure would indicate a similar massive disparity in power: I won't try to google Ramos to see if he inherited wealth, but it's probably fair to say that Williams, by virtue of the work she has put into her profession, has amassed a net worth exceeding Ramos' by at least three orders of magnitude, probably more. I mean, do we care about powerful people blasting over weaker people to get what they want, or don't we. I do.

The deeper issue here is the racist belief or racist framing of situations, which removes Williams' agency from her, and which points in the direction of never allowing any person of certain groups to ever be considered powerful, but always to be thought of and talked about as the weaker of the individuals involved in any given interaction. I think it's ok to see Williams as the more powerful person in the tennis world than Ramos - by an overwhelming margin. When I notice a powerful person behaving in the "don't you know who I am" manner to the easily replaceable person whose job it is to call them as they see them fairly to both people who are playing in that match, I think they're acting like a jerk. I don't decide that they couldn't possibly be acting like a jerk because they couldn't ever possibly be powerful enough to be acting like a jerk.

Some people are historic champions and also hate losing so much they will work hard to make their opponent feel that they didn't "really" beat them. That's what I speculate happened here.
posted by sommerfeld at 6:27 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


The deeper issue here is the racist belief or racist framing of situations, which removes Williams' agency from her,

That... is not racism is operating here and it's a pretty offensive stretch to say that the real racism is in pointing out the double standards to which Serena has long and quite publicly been subjected to.
posted by TwoStride at 6:37 PM on September 9 [30 favorites]


"That's what I speculate happened here."

That she deliberately took penalties because she thought she losing?
posted by parki at 6:40 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


Why are men allowed to referee/umpire women's sports?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:06 AM on September 9 [27 favorites +] [!]


Because discriminatory hiring practices are bad. To wit:

And I also remember the 1000 loathesome POS actions of white male players. Jimmy Connors in the pre-internet days yelling, 'Why do you have a WOMAN (lines person)," with no penalty for such a horrible remark, and not a peep in the media about his misogyny.

That’s why.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:45 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


sommerfeld, Rafael Nadal said precisely the same thing to Ramos during the 2017 Open re: “you’ll never umpire another one of my matches.” No point penalty, much less game penalty. No outcry regarding Nadal’s behavior.
posted by epj at 6:56 PM on September 9 [33 favorites]


The other is probably decent at their profession, but could easily be exchanged with hundreds of others of similar ability.

Nah dude, he's gold-badged, there is probably only 30 or so umpires at that level in tennis at any one time. Amazing how many people in this thread are suddenly tennis experts!

And how many think that this kind of behavior is OK because players are "passionate". Tennis, as a sport, is deeply fucked up on a lot of levels and tolerates an amazing amount of shitty behavior from coaches and players alike. Let's not get into the parents. People are just as passionate about other sports but try screaming "motherfucker" at a track and field judge and see what happens to you.

Not that Serena Williams is doing anything different than other pros do, and Ramos did treat her differently so he was wrong about that. Especially in a US Open final.

Rafael Nadal said precisely the same thing to Ramos during the 2017 Open re: “you’ll never umpire another one of my matches.” No point penalty, much less game penalty. No outcry regarding Nadal’s behavior.

Nadal said it, more strategically, at the end of the match. And there was definitely eye-rolling about his behavior, not least of which because he actually got them to ban an umpire from his games which was total BS. Nadal and Murray are both pretty solid whiners. It really does decrease my enjoyment of the game.
posted by fshgrl at 7:05 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


[I don't think we need to read Ms. Williams' mind in the most uncharitable way possible, and it does nothing to forward the conversation when you present what you've decided she was thinking as Gospel with no evidence.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:06 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


A Roundup of how male tennis stars and other male athletes interact with umps by Christina Capatides and Cydney Adams includes this gem:
At the 2016 French Open, Australian player Nick Kyrgios blew up at Ramos after he was given a warning for raising his voice at a ballboy. "That's bulls**t. Are you kidding?" Kyrgios shouted at the official. "Bulls**t, f***ing bulls**t." He was given neither a point penalty, nor a game penalty.

And this one: During a semifinals match at the 2016 Cincinnati Masters in Ohio, British tennis star Andy Murray quite literally kicked a ball at the chair umpire's head. And despite the ATP rulebook clearly stating that "players shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a tennis ball while on the grounds of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match," Murray was not disqualified. The umpire simply hit him with a pointed look and Murray went on to win the match, advancing to the final.
posted by TwoStride at 7:08 PM on September 9 [12 favorites]


sommerfeld, Rafael Nadal said precisely the same thing to Ramos during the 2017 Open re: “you’ll never umpire another one of my matches.” No point penalty, much less game penalty. No outcry regarding Nadal’s behavior.

I responded to someone who claimed they could see no threat in the phrase "You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live." I did see one. I see a threat from Nadal there as well. Don't you? Nadal and Williams are the rock stars here, not Ramos.

It's a different thing to compare these two incidents more globally. Are you confident that you would rule, as the umpire, in the "same" way in both situations? I've watched the Williams-Ramos interaction very recently, and the Nadal-Ramos incident is not as fresh in my mind. I don't think Nadal revisited and reopened the incident repeatedly, I don't think he demanded an apology, or called him a thief, and I think he wasn't on his third infraction - there I think the decision was whether to penalize him a point. I think Ramos should have. Nadal had no business talking like that to an umpire. Sexism is rampant in tennis in all sorts of ways, but I don't see Ramos as having been sexist against Williams and in favour of Osaka, for example. The culture of umpiring in tennis in general is terrible. The best players get away with shit weaker players couldn't possibly get away with, and among umpires Ramos is pretty decent - but as I said before, totally replaceable with any of a thousand other people who would work hard to be objective and unbiased and observant.
posted by sommerfeld at 7:23 PM on September 9


Why are men allowed to referee/umpire women's sports?
FWIW, Men's final was umpired by a woman.

fshgrl, thank you for weighing in here.

(and LOL being called a "thief" is comparable to being cursed at)
posted by armacy at 7:32 PM on September 9


I watched the ESPN 14-minute clip and what struck me was how Ramos doubled down once Williams challenged him. He couldn't see where she was coming from, he made no effort to reconcile the conflict and help the game move on, he repeated his accusation that she was receiving "coaching", and push come shove, he hid behind the letter of the law, abusing his power to punish her again and again, in order to protect and insulate himself. He issued a series of punishments but had no insight on what the legitimate concerns were. And that's how structural violence functions through people occupying positions of power.
posted by polymodus at 7:33 PM on September 9 [16 favorites]


Nah dude, he's gold-badged, there is probably only 30 or so umpires at that level in tennis at any one time.

Yep, they say there's 30 or so of them who have attained this distinction. But I don't buy that these 30 are sufficiently better than the say 300 on the next rung below, because there isn't a quantifiable way of separating these two groups like there is when, for example, you're trying to determine who is the better tennis player (where you can just get them to play). So I think he's pretty replaceable in the way I talked about. His skills are just not that rare. There are only x number of city councillors but that doesn't mean that what they do is so amazing that there aren't 10x people who could do it in a similarly competent manner.

Amazing how many people in this thread are suddenly tennis experts!

I am certain you have far more experience and knowledge about tennis than lots of the people who've spoken up, including me. This business of who is in the in-group, and who is at the top of the hierarchy of the in-group, is exactly what I was talking about. Ramos is in, but Williams completely and totally outranks him.
posted by sommerfeld at 7:44 PM on September 9


The implication that Williams is leveraging a classist power dynamic to threaten a referee with the loss of his career, for a throw-away comment she made on live television in a heated moment, which is routinely made in the same scenarios with no actual follow-through by people a lot more white and male than her, is so ridiculous and such a co-option of power dynamic rhetoric that I can't even.

Like, I'm reminded of how when every time a black person gets shot by a cop, the defense is that we should be sympathetic because the cop was legitimately scared of them.

This fluffing up of black people into boogeymen is plainly racist. That's literally racism in action right here.
posted by Conspire at 7:55 PM on September 9 [61 favorites]


From here:

Those chair umpires who pass a "Level 3" school start as a Bronze Badge and can be promoted to Silver and then to Gold following a review of their work rate and performance in the annual review conducted by the ITF, ATP and WTA.

It sounds like there's quite a bit of training, certification (for lack of a better word), with regular performance reviews. However, I literally know next to nothing about tennis, so that could all be meaningless.
posted by barkingpumpkin at 7:58 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Nadal actually did get the ATP to ban a gold-badged umpire from officiating his matches after he penalized him for wasting time, plus it unofficially happens all the time so it is a legitimate threat to a judge to get them banned. Which was totally fucked and speaks to how the governing body panders to the popular players over others. It is clearly ridiculous that a player can ask for special consideration in the officiating process as openly and without shame as Nadal did and get it, but everyone knows it happens. And it happens at all levels. Now the umpires do not react to the men threatening them as much obviously, but maybe they will now. Or maybe they will back down altogether. We will see.

btw, he originally got into a fight with that particular umpire because he was wearing his shorts backwards and he waited till he wanted basically a time out to ask to change them. Nadal does this a lot and has been penalized for time wasting numerous times. And they wonder why men's tennis is less popular than it used to be.

I have been following tennis since the 80s and I do hate to see all of this but it's the culture for sure. Some players feel they need to act this way to be treated fairly and the top players know they will get consideration from the tournament organizers. Williams and Ramos will both be OK. If you want to feel really bad for anyone here, feel bad for the up-and-comers. This hurts them the most.
posted by fshgrl at 8:03 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


This argument about Serena having more power in the moment is some crazy ass shit, good grief. If you twist stuff that much you can start arguing up is down.
posted by blue shadows at 8:18 PM on September 9 [16 favorites]


Sexism is rampant in tennis in all sorts of ways, but I don't see Ramos as having been sexist against Williams and in favour of Osaka, for example.

Setting aside the question of race, I think this is a mistaken understanding of how sexism works. Sexism means holding men and women to different—gendered—standards. Penalising a woman for “unfeminine” conduct, in circumstances where you wouldn’t penalise a man for identical conduct, is sexism—even if it happens on that occasion to benefit another woman.

In this situation, we have a brown woman talking to a white man; the test for whether a rule is violated is how affronted the man gets; this man on this occasion is much more easily affronted by Serena Williams than he previously has been by aggressive white male players swearing in his face. Anyone who has the experience of being a brown woman arguing with a white man, who has some power over her, can see sexism and racism at work in the differential responses. If you can’t, that’s fair enough but then the question for you is how you interpret the responses of so many others who do see it. Are we just too sensitive? I think a good-faith response would be to consider the possibility that this is not a unique one-off example of conflict, to be analysed as a unique one-off, but something that feels typical to a lot of people in their own experience.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:25 PM on September 9 [19 favorites]


When men behave this way, they're passionate or intense. When women behave this way, they are unprofessional or emotional.

The ol' Mixed-Doubles-Standard.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:36 PM on September 9 [12 favorites]


Setting aside the question of race, I think this is a mistaken understanding of how sexism works. Sexism means holding men and women to different—gendered—standards. Penalising a woman for “unfeminine” conduct, in circumstances where you wouldn’t penalise a man for identical conduct, is sexism—even if it happens on that occasion to benefit another woman.

Right. Refs in tennis routinely hear this shit from players (they shouldn't) but the men and higher ranked players of both genders seem to be able to do it with less consequence. Not zero consequence, but less.

I mean Serena has told a line judge she would "stick this fucking ball down your fucking throat" before. That's not sportsmanlike behavior no matter how you cut it but it's well within the norms of elite popular tennis players talking to officials these days unfortunately. It shouldn't be but it is.
posted by fshgrl at 8:51 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Amazing how many people in this thread are suddenly tennis experts!

Or sport experts in general. I can tell from the comments exactly how many people have never watched a single baseball nor basketball game in their lives.
posted by sideshow at 9:09 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Or sport experts in general. I can tell from the comments exactly how many people have never watched a single baseball nor basketball game in their lives.

It was disappointing to read the comment fromthe USTA judge who said "let the players, play". This is why tennis is dying at the junior and amateur level. No one wants to deal with that shit and it trickles down: both the bad player behavior and the "not my problem" officiating spiced with the occasional frankly political or personal call.
posted by fshgrl at 9:34 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Or sport experts in general. I can tell from the comments exactly how many people have never watched a single baseball nor basketball game in their lives.

I've been watching tennis for the better part of two decades. Basketball for even longer, since you're apparently interested.

But, please. Explain to all of us how this has only a little tiny bit to do with sexism and racism and everything to do with the intricacies of *fancy sports calculus*.
posted by nightrecordings at 10:09 PM on September 9 [12 favorites]


Thanks for the inside perspective, fshgrl and martin q. I can't really argue against the prima donna critique, which seems like a legitimate discussion on its own, but I've been thinking about axiom and hilberseimer and others in this thread who might be put off tennis over this episode -- maybe don't give up on it just yet?

Despite the unfairness of the officiating in yesterday's match, to my eyes the progressive bona fides of tennis, and of the U.S. Open in particular, are strong, at least compared to other sports. I may be a bit over the moon right now as a casual TV fan who finally saw a live match at the women's final in New Haven* last month, and was inspired enough by that to make it to Flushing Meadows last weekend, but there's some real egalitarian beauty on display at the U.S. Open. Starting with naming the biggest stadium in tennis after a black man, Arthur Ashe, the first winner of this tournament in the Open era; and then continuing with naming the entire grounds after Billie Jean King, who is a goddam feminist superhero -- not only the woman who beat a man in the famous "Battle of the Sexes" match, not only the person primarily responsible for making the U.S. Open the first Grand Slam to offer equal pay to men and women players, all the way back in 1973, but also one of the very earliest public figures to be openly out as bisexual. And beyond that, there is the beauty of watching men and women on equal footing, from the current president of the USTA and chair of the U.S. Open, Katrina Adams, a black woman; to the ESPN TV booth (anchored by Chris McKendry, a woman); to the match play-by-play calls, shared by women and men; to the line judges female and male; to the ball kids; and yes, to the chair umpires, where a woman chaired the men's final and a man chaired the women's final. And of course, in the matches themselves, where men follow women on the big courts, and then vice versa, and in the case of mixed doubles, where men and women are not only professional athletes in the same sport, or at the same event, but teammates together in the same match. There is beauty in watching a woman, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and a man, Jamie Murray (older brother of Andy) trade high-fives and then trade winners down the line en route to winning the mixed-doubles final, and then hearing the obvious catch in Pam Shriver's voice calling their win, just a year after Bethanie's horrific knee injury at Wimbledon that potentially meant her career. There is beauty in a sport where matches so often, especially after the hardest-fought battles, end with an affectionate embrace at the net and whispered words of respect, where we can see a champion comforting a runner-up on the podium, and even, under bizarre circumstances, a runner-up comforting and reassuring a champion.

*I feel lucky to have witnessed something special in the making -- 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka is just a few months younger than Naomi Osaka, and has the potential to be a Nadal to Osaka's Federer in what could become the great rivalry of the next decade in women's tennis. After beating Carla Suarez Navarro to win her first-ever WTA event at New Haven, Sabalenka was the only player who even managed to take a set against Osaka at the U.S. Open this year, something not even Serena accomplished.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 10:14 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


Among the other very well stated discussion points here, I'm getting quite an interesting perspective into what is, to me as an outside anyway, some really odd rules in tennis about coaching and wardrobe and officiating games. To wit,

1) So I'm getting that any form of coaching isn't allowed in the books. But, it's basically impossible to prevent so folks do it and it's... just... ignored except when it's not I guess? This seems really ripe for abuse and I'll get to that more in point 3 about officiating in general.

2) Wardrobe seems... to be a big deal in Tennis. I had heard about the banning of the outfit at the French Open and I figured it was just a "Oh, look at those people in France, aren't they quirky" sort of thing. But no, it seems there's not only a double standard for males and females regarding shirts coming off altogether [men] vs to fix a backwards shirt [women, and penalized] to perhaps intentional backwards short wearing to attempt to levy a freebie timeout to switch the tag to the back, or... something. Also, I saw a pull quote about how players (of both sex I think) at a certain venue were required to wear what and the note they all got had the wording "White is not off white or cream" in it. I mean, damn that's asinine right?

3) So there's only one judge who doesn't seem to be answerable to anyone. In american sports that seems to be an oddity where I'm used to seeing either tiers of officials or, at least, a team that works together. Usually they do have at least one head or lead official on the field of play but there's almost always a consultation with other refs when the situation dictates it. It seems like this would be prone to abuse, up to and including swinging games for profit/betting, but I admit that that's not anything I have a factual basis for, just a cynical view of human nature to go off of.

All three of those seem, well, like they could use a freshining up in these modern times.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:16 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


I’m a former sportswriter that has covered a little pro tennis.

Serena is a competitor. Competitors argue calls All. The. Time. I’d be gobsmacked if Serena didn’t argue a call.

At the same time, referees and umpires at that level need to have the ability to be above it all.

“I don’t cheat.”
“I made my call.”
“You’re a thief.”
“Your serve.”
“You owe me an apology.”
“It’s still your serve.”
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:23 PM on September 9 [9 favorites]


The implication that Williams is leveraging a classist power dynamic to threaten a referee with the loss of his career, for a throw-away comment she made on live television in a heated moment

I wouldn't call it "classist". Class structure is not typically what you'd use to explain the difference in position between a tennis player and an umpire. They're both in the same class relative to society at large. But however the power dynamic between them works precisely, it's hard to believe that the player didn't feel like she had that power when making pretty much the canonical "you'll never work in this town again" kind of threat.

Even if it was only an empty threat in a heated moment.
posted by sfenders at 10:33 PM on September 9


There are line judges too, as well as the chair umpire. The officiating set-up isn't particularly unusual for a sport.

Having said that - many junior matches aren't judged at all, they are honor system until the quarter or semis usually and that's in a tournament. No one watches most of them so when it comes down to a shouting match over a call, the strongest personality wins or the one who's parent or friend is watching and gets involved. There are a lot of lunatic parents in tennis. Singles tennis is a tough, tough game to come up in. If you win one game you just have to go off to another isolated court and play another kid who takes it way too seriously. Alone. For hours. It's a fairly closed circle from a very young age but there is not much camaraderie.

Doubles, otoh, is a civilized game for civilized people that you can play your whole life and have fun with, mixed doubles particularly. All the cool people play doubles.
posted by fshgrl at 10:44 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


The next time you read someone whining about overpaid atheletes playing a childrens game being paid more that teachers and firefighters think about what that comment says about people's comfort with strict meritocracies.

Professional sports is show business. It's a show designed to sell your attention to advertisers and to sell you cars, clothes, and beer. Basketball is a team sport heavily influenced by stars rather than an individual sport but how many times in the NBA finals do you recall Michael Jordan being called for traveling? The NBA has some pretty flexible rules but they seem to doing fine marketing their game. Children aren't refusing to play basketball because stars are treated better than non-stars.

I'm not even saying that Serena should be be treated better than her counterparts. I am saying that she should be treated at least as well as her fellow tennis players, including her male counterparts. It doesn't seem to me like that is happening.

It's true that Serena is pretty powerful. She's a star. She's rich. She married to someone who is obscenely rich. Off the court she clearly outranks an umpire in most status hierarchies which one reason I suspect that this particular umpire was determined to exercise his power over her in the one place she did not outrank him.
posted by rdr at 5:54 AM on September 10 [11 favorites]


[One deleted. Let's skip rambling, fight-starting and/or offensive thought experiments that conclude with "in the extreme case we might be heading for a world where ... [something bad, not what happened here]."]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:59 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


Rule number 1 of officiating is that if the fans notice you at all then you have fucked up.
posted by srboisvert at 7:20 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Billie Jean King: Serena is still treated differently than male athletes.

Also if you haven't watched it, Serena' comments at the award ceremony are an amazingly kind and humble thing. She totally takes herself out of the spotlight to honor her opponent, as was appropriate.

This story sure highlights divisions in how people see the world. If I see one more white man hand-wringing about "but she was uppity" I might stab my computer screen. Which RIP my computer screen, because that's like 75% of the takes I see.
posted by Nelson at 7:40 AM on September 10 [21 favorites]


It was disappointing to read the comment fromthe USTA judge who said "let the players, play". This is why tennis is dying at the junior and amateur level. No one wants to deal with that shit and it trickles down: both the bad player behavior and the "not my problem" officiating spiced with the occasional frankly political or personal call.

This. It seems from a lot of the cites posted that Serena has definitely been penalized more for bad behavior than her male counterparts, which is fucked up - but it's not because no one /deserved/ penalty, but rather because the dudes skated out of it. Not because no one found their words or actions upsetting or threatening, but rather because the 'bad player behavior' is basically enshrined at this point.

And that also drives people out of or away from the game. A game with a culture of bad behavior, a game where referees don't enforce rules against the bad behavior until they suddenly feel like it, that's a game that people who don't welcome toxicity in their lives are not going to spend time with, because why would they? And it also enforces the 'cool girl' standard for women in these sports - like they can only play at those high levels if they can be just as badly behaved as the men and not seem upset by bad behavior.

And for those who are assuming only white dudes have problems with bad behavior - no. Absolutely not. I'm a woman of color and toxic sport environments are precisely why I to this day have no idea how to actually play sports, because I have never ever even seen the option of this friendly competition that everyone talks about.
posted by corb at 8:56 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


I mean, one measly point of anecdata, but: "diva behavior" or whatever has never kept me away from attending professional tennis matches. But Ramos (the "diva umpire") and the failure of US tennis officials to deal with uneven and biased calls by referees has probably ensured I will never, ever attend the US Open. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
posted by duffell at 9:14 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Also if you haven't watched it, Serena' comments at the award ceremony are an amazingly kind and humble thing. She totally takes herself out of the spotlight to honor her opponent, as was appropriate.

Full of sportsmanship, humility, inspiration and heart. Wow.

And YouTube thinks that I want to watch next what John McEnroe says about Serena on Colbert. No, I do not.
posted by amanda at 10:31 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Serena has always been pretty gracious in her press, at least barring a couple instances, and so are the rest of the top women. It's one of the reasons I really only watch women anymore, the men's press is ugh.
posted by fshgrl at 12:54 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I'm a long-time reader of Metafilter, but this is my first post. I've almost taken the plunge and joined many times before, but I guess my tennis nerdism has given me the extra nudge this time. That, and the fact that I believe the consensus opinion on this thread is flawed despite MeFites best efforts to be on the right side of things. Apologies for the length.

We all have biases and prejudices. Some, more than others. Sometimes we are able to see past them, and other times we let them frame the way see things in such a way that it distorts our view. I think that's happening here.

Serena claimed that she was being treated differently because she was a woman, that men had said worse to umpires and got away with it. This stat doesn't refute that out of hand, but at this year's US Open there were 32 fines issues for code violations. 23 of them were issued to men - 9 of them were issued to women (3 of those being issued to Serena).

Earlier in this thread there were some examples posted of the umpire Carlos Ramos showing leniency to some of the male players. But when we look at Carlos Ramos's history we can find plenty of cases of him issuing code violations to big-name male players .

*In this year's French Open Ramos issued a code violation against Novak Djokovic for coaching. He also issued one against Ceechinato for the same thing in the same match.
*In last year's French Open Ramos docked Djokovic a first serve for time violations. A little bit later Djokovic stared at Ramos, then turned away and yelled at himself in Serbian. He then lifted up his racquet overhead as though he was going to smash the ball, but relented before flicking the ball softly to the ball-boy. This earned him a code violation.
*In last year's French Open Ramos had an altercation with Rafael Nadal. Ramos issued two warnings against Nadal for time-wasting, and in Rafa's words, "also pressured me about coaching".
*In the 2016 Olympic semi-final he issued a code violation against Andy Murray for saying, "stupid umpire" (or "stupid umpiring" as Murray claimed).
*In the 2016 French Open Ramos issued a code violation against Nick Kyrgios for shouting at a ball kid who was giving him a towel.

Now let's take a look at what went down on Arthur Ashe stadium this Saturday for comparison. The sequence of events went like this:

* At 1-0 in the second set Ramos issued a code violation against Serena Williams for coaching. Serena questioned this in a perfectly classy manner, made a statement that she would rather lose than cheat, and walked away.

* At the next change of ends Serena talked to the the umpire again. She basically reiterated what she said before, and was firm but still calm, "I can see why you may have thought that, but I just want to be clear. I've never got a coaching violation, cause I don't do it. So I can understand why you may have thought that but I don't cheat." It's hard to make out what Ramos is saying above the noise, but the conversation appears to be conciliatory with Ramos putting his hand on his heart. At the end can be heard saying "I have known you for many years and I know that." And Serena says "Thank you".

* Two games later, Osaka breaks back and Serena smashes her racquet. It's the type of racquet smash that draws an automatic code violation. Because it was her second violation it cost her a point penalty. It's at this point that Serena starts to get out of line with the umpire. "This is unbelievable. Every time I play here I have problems.... I didn't get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn't get coaching". In the course of the talk Serena's tone gets more agressive, shouting at Ramos, "You owe me an apology. You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life.I have a daughter and I stand what's right for her and I never cheated and you owe me an apology!"

*At the next change of ends, Serena takes issue with Ramos' decision again. She says to him, "I never got coaching. I explained that to you. For you to attack my character is something that's wrong. It's wrong, you attacking my character. Yes you are - you owe me an apology. You will never ever ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar."

At this point Ramos turns away from Serena and resumes his position facing the court. But Serena continues:

"When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it, say you're sorry. Well, then don't talk to me, don't talk to me." Ramos stops talking to her. But Serena isn't finished talking to him, "How dare you insinuate I was cheating?"

A few seconds go by, and Ramos calls "Time" - the change of ends is over. Then Serena gets in one last salvo - "You stole a point from me, you're a thief too."

It is only at this point that Ramos calls a code violation for verbal abuse. It was only a game penalty because Serena had two previous code violations. We don't remember a lot of the code violations handed out for verbal abuse because they are usually the first such violation of the match, and as such do not carry any points penalty. The penalty wasn't just for calling Ramos a thief - that was merely the clincher after Serena repeatedly escalated the situation. She repeatedly questioned the umpire's integrity. She threatened that he wouldn't be able to umpire her matches any more^. She demanded an apology from him. She called him a liar. She called him a thief.

^Not an idle threat. In the 2015 French Open chair umpire Carlos Bernades gave Rafael Nadal code violations for time-wasting. Nadal subsequently asked the ATP that Bernades not be assigned to his matches, and the ATP acceded to the request. Interestingly, last year Nadal actually told Carols Ramos he would never umpire one of his matches again. Unlike Serena he made the threat at the end of the match.

Knowing all this, does this really look like a case of sexism, or is it more likely a case of Ramos being a stickler and Serena going too far in response? There is certainly an argument that the application of the coaching rule is not consistent enough. Peter Mauratoglo has admitted he was coaching (which doesn't necessarily mean Serena was watching - but that's not the way the rule works) while shrugging it off with an "everybody does it defence". And there's an argument that he should have or could have given Serena Williams a soft warning over the coaching. Although as we saw before he issued a code violation to Djokovic for coaching earlier this year without a soft warning. But these are sporting questions. It's one of the most common sports stories around. Fans complain about inconsistent umpiring and refereeing across all manner of sports week-in, week-out. Instead Serena says she's been treated unfairly because of her sex. Of course we all see countless examples of women being talked down to or not being treated fairly every day, but we should think twice before determining that Saturday's events were an example of this.

Serena mentioned in her confrontations with the officials that this always happens to her at Flushing Meadows. That's obviously a reference to the 2009 semi-final and 2011 final. Serena lost her cool on those occasions, telling a lines judge she was going to shove a ball down her throat, and telling an umpire that she was "a hater and just unattractive on the inside". The lines judge and the two umpires involved in those incidents were women. I can understand that Serena may be under more pressure to win at home, but that doesn't excuse her behaviour towards officials (on these admittedly rare but memorable occasions - in general Serena has been a great ambassador for tennis, but even she has some blemishes).

Going back to my opening about biases and prejudices. I understand that we want people we identify with, and associate with, and look up to, to be in the right. I know the majority of posters here are American, and the majority of posters care about fighting for women's rights, and minority group's rights in general. I fall into the latter category (as an advocate for equality) but not the former (I am Australian). I know it's not easy admitting that an American hero (for that's what Serena is) is in the wrong. I know it can be difficult to see a woman getting penalised by a man and not associate it with all the injustices we've seen over the years. But I think it's clouding the judgement of what happened in this case.

Now it is just a game of tennis, but I felt moved to post because I think Metafilter is best when it delves into the facts and attempts to see things from multiple perspectives, instead of coming to quick judgements because they suit our (well-meaning) prejudices. I hope my post will help the discussion.

Anyway, keep up the good work Metafilter. Now I've finally bitten the bullet and joined I will endeavour to join the conversation more often.
posted by decent rooms and a bath at 1:03 PM on September 10 [18 favorites]


I definitely think this is something that reasonable people can disagree about and I must confess I'm bemused by the certitude displayed online by people that didn't watch the match, don't watch tennis, or actually know the rules.

Likewise the strident assurance that sexism and racism could heavens to betsy have played no role whatsoever, even in the culture these penalties took place in, is a little wearying.

Martina Navratilova had an NYT op ed discussing this.

The former and current pros are somewhat split on what should have happened and what Williams and Ramos could have done better. But they are unanimous that's there's a double standard for men vs women, and black vs white.

(I would also argue that there is a double standard with highly ranked players vs lower ranked players that contributes to a culture where umpiring around shitty behaviour can vary a lot and be very discretionary, which is a bad thing. Williams berated the umpire cause she thought she could get away with it. With most she probably could, with this one, she couldn't. Whether sheshould get away with it - whether anyone should - seems to be an area of contention. Opinions can differ. )
posted by smoke at 2:36 PM on September 10 [5 favorites]


I appreciate some of the comments in here, and honestly I'm a little surprised to see the anti-blackness and misogynoir stuff even mentioned. That's great. It's almost all some of the other spaces I'm in are talking about since it's so important to the discussion, not "just" sexism or "just" racism. It's infuriating having this conversation with everyone, not just white people -- if anything I've been more frustrated with non-black POC than whites because they do the "I'm a POC too!" thing, as if anti-blackness and other similar angles of nuance isn't its own beast in the United States on top of everything else.
posted by Freeze Peach at 2:45 PM on September 10


Sexism is rampant in tennis in all sorts of ways, but I don't see Ramos as having been sexist against Williams and in favour of Osaka, for example.

This is a common misunderstanding that there couldn't be any sexism because Osaka was a woman too.

Kate Manne: “Misogyny is not about male hostility or hatred toward women — instead, it’s about controlling and punishing women who challenge male dominance.”
posted by JackFlash at 2:58 PM on September 10 [17 favorites]


Please take a look at this Australian cartoonist's rendition of the match and tell me how race isn't a part of it.
posted by TwoStride at 5:49 PM on September 10 [8 favorites]


That guy has the most disgusting form, he published a cartoon earlier in the year that was gobsmackingly offensive and racist, too.

It's frigging surreal to see pictures like that in one of Australia's biggest newspapers in 2018.i hope he gets referred to the press Council.
posted by smoke at 6:03 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Mark Knight seriously argues that there's nothing racist about the cartoon. His editors are probably thrilled with the attention. Australian media really is a garbage fire.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:12 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


It's frigging surreal to see pictures like that in one of Australia's biggest newspapers in 2018.i hope he gets referred to the press Council.

They did nothing about the other racist cartoon. Safe to say the Press Council will do nothing about this one.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:15 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I understand that we want people we identify with, and associate with, and look up to, to be in the right.

See, I don't associate much with tennis, Serena Williams, or Americans, at all. And I still think she was in the right. I don't think my judgment has been "clouded", and maybe let's not make it about that sort of stuff in the first place.
posted by polymodus at 9:50 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


See, I don't associate much with tennis, Serena Williams, or Americans, at all. And I still think she was in the right. I don't think my judgment has been "clouded", and maybe let's not make it about that sort of stuff in the first place.

I am very familiar with tennis and with the history of on-court conflicts. As smoke mentioned above, there is room for disagreement, and the various comments by the professionals underline that.

I admit to being a long-term fan of Serena Williams. I was out of the house and had to record the match for watching later. Based on the reactions I was reading, I expected to feel like Williams was at least somewhat out of line. Once I watched, though, I couldn't believe the way people were describing her behavior. I don't get how anyone got descriptions like "meltdown" out of what I was seeing onscreen. Well, I get it, and I don't think it speaks well of them. Which I guess is a way of saying I admit to a level of irrationality and emotion myself, but I don't think you have to be irrational to take a position in Serena's favor. And claiming that position is irrational by definition-- well that is what the usual "no sexism/racism here!" suspects started doing right out of the gate.
posted by BibiRose at 5:47 AM on September 11 [10 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. AillilUpATree, if you want to participate in a site that doesn't think race and gender are issues of importance, in you're in the wrong place. Please do not troll this thread.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:16 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


Speaking of "meltdowns": Rebel Girls video of "When Men Lose It" posted to FB. The racket-breaking, in particular, is really striking.
posted by TwoStride at 7:06 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


Huh, Mark Knight's Twitter account is gone today. Not just suspended, looks like it was deleted maybe by himself. Good riddance.

The most racist thing about that piece of shit racist cartoon is the way he drew Osaka. Somehow the dark-haired Japanese woman got transformed in the cartoon into a white lady with a blonde ponytail.
posted by Nelson at 7:11 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


Tennis umpires consider forming union following Serena Williams storm

"Top tennis umpires are considering forming a union because they believe Carlos Ramos was “hung out to dry” by the authorities during and after the US Open women’s final despite upholding the rules in sanctioning Serena Williams."
posted by AillilUpATree at 10:22 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Well I hope if they unionize they'll also agree to hold themselves to a far more consistent standard of officiating and not the least of which would be to ban, say, climbing down from the chair to give certain players pep talks.
posted by TwoStride at 10:30 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Really all workers should form unions - regardless of the impetus, bosses are not going to look out for their workers when it might cost them profit. Even the fact that they will move umpires around because top players don't want to work with them, rather than because of bad performance, is pretty wild. I hope this does get off the ground.
posted by corb at 10:34 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Well I hope if they unionize they'll also agree to hold themselves to a far more consistent standard of officiating and not the least of which would be to ban, say, climbing down from the chair to give certain players pep talks.

I thought that was good referring. One of the few times Kyrgios has ever received sympathetic treatment from an umpire, as far as I can remember.

Nick Kyrgios must be one of the few players on tour who receives a comparable amount of racism and double standards over their behaviour as Serena Williams - I was utterly unsurprised to see that that racist Australian cartoonist seems to also have a nice sideline in horrible Kyrgios cartoons - and he's another player who's also previously made similar claims over the biased/lenient nature of officiating against/towards some players (this tweet about Djokovic, for example).
posted by dng at 11:05 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


It's not the ump's place to cheer up Kyrgios if he wants to tank again. Anything beyond, "If you are ill we are calling this match" is terrible refereeing.
posted by TwoStride at 11:13 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


You can't put Kyrgios's behavior in the same category as Williams or claim he falls under the same double standard! Wtf?

Williams is a long time pro who is generally a gracious and generous winner and loser but who has occasionally lost it a bit under high pressure losing situations. Kyrgios, otoh, is the recepient of all kinds of special treatment. Hes thrown matches because he "doesn't feel like being there", he loses his shit every time the sun gets in his eyes. He was banned for the balance of the season a few years ago for one of the least sporting and most childish tantrums I've ever seen a professional athletes have. Then he gets special treatment by the umpires!

The two are nothing alike. For heaven's sakes.
posted by fshgrl at 2:41 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]


Agreed with Fshgrl and TwoStride; the treatment Kyrgios gets vs what Serena got in this match is a graphic illustration of the double standard at play for men and women in tennis. If she engaged in half the bullshit he does every other match, she'd be run off the tour.
posted by smoke at 3:43 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


BibiRose, I had exactly the same reaction and thoughts as you. How anyone watching that could conclude anything else is a good indication of where they stand on the sexism/racism line. These here are some of the most balderdash arguments I've encountered in some time.
posted by blue shadows at 6:56 PM on September 11


When You're Black and in America, Even Victories Sometimes Feel Like Defeats.
The tears Naomi Osaka shed Saturday afternoon weren’t the tears of joy. They were from the weight of the controversy. The weight of playing and outplaying her idol, and having racism and sexism join forces to cast clouds over her day. The weight of having to remind the people attempting to erase her heritage that she’s black too.
posted by Nelson at 8:58 AM on September 12 [7 favorites]


For those of you still observing the dumpster fire that the Australian cartoonist created - check out Thelma Plum and "Clumsy Love"

we must have some redeeming features midst the Antipodeans
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 3:58 AM on September 14


Man, Australia is just really determined to double down on their racism: Australian Athletes Don Full Body Blackface To Impersonate Serena Williams.
posted by TwoStride at 1:56 PM on September 22


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