Professional Tennis umpires are discussing plans to unionize their services and boycott after Serena Williams accused long time umpire, Carlos Ramos, of sexism during the Women’s U.S. Open Championship.
Serena Williams received multiple violations for breaking three different rules during her championship match against Naomi Osaka.
The first code violation was “being coached” during play, which her coach admitted to following her loss to Osaka, even though Williams denied it during the match. Williams’s second violation was out of pure frustration, breaking her racket, slamming it on the ground. The third and final violation is directly related to the childlike temper tantrum thrown by Williams, verbally abusing the chair referee, calling him a “thief” and a “liar” due to her lack of dominance during the match.
“You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry…And you stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too!” Williams yelled at Ramos.
The U.S. Open referees office has announced that it will be docking Williams for all three code violations resulting in a total of $17,000 in fines. The majority of the total fine comes from Serena’s verbal abuse violation, costing her $10,000.
Williams went on to not only verbally abuse the senior umpire, but also went to the extreme of labeling the man sexist against women. Serena Williams, following the match, said there is an extreme double standard within the sport, and she is willing to fight to expose it.
"I've seen other men call other umpires several things. I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say 'thief,' and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief,'" Williams said.
Reports have surfaced that other umpires are “disturbed” following her outburst and accusations, along with the fact that some league officials publicly supported Williams. Although umpires are technically not allowed to interact with press, some felt the necessity to speak out on behalf of the “fraternity” of tennis referees.
“There is a lot of unhappiness in the umpiring community because no one is standing up for officials. Umpires keep asking: ‘What if it was me in that chair on Saturday?’ There is a widespread feeling that Carlos was hung out to dry for nearly 48 hours, and that no one is standing up for officials" said an anonymous umpire.
Multiple tennis referees and umpires are privately supporting the idea to unionize and boycott the current system for tennis referees and umpires.
“Umpires don’t have any independent means of representation and are employed by the governing bodies. If talking to the media is not allowed, and governing bodies are speaking out against them, what are umpires supposed to do?” said the anonymous source.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has issued a statement in support of Ramos’s decisions during the championship match involving Williams and Osaka. They also reiterated Carlos Ramos's qualifications as a "gold badge" umpire with the organization for many years.
“Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis,” the ITF statement said. “Mr. Ramos’s decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were reaffirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Ms. Williams for the three offences.”