Tennis umpires are not pleased with what they perceive as a lack of support following Saturday's U.S. Open women's final.
Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams in straight sets, but the actual match took a backseat to the controversy surrounding chair umpire Carlos Ramos and Williams. Ramos cited Williams for receiving coaching signals, breaking a racket and calling him a thief during a conversation. The second citation cost her a point, while the third cost her an entire game.
"The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA [Tour]," Richard Ings, a retired elite Gold Badge umpire, said on Tuesday, per Peter Bodo of ESPN.com. "They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls."
The New York crowd vociferously booed the officiating Saturday, and it lasted into the trophy ceremony before Williams took the microphone and asked the spectators to cheer for Osaka after she won her first career major championship.
The U.S. Open fined Williams $17,000 for the violations, per Eliott C. McLaughlin of CNN.
As for a potential umpire reaction, Ings told Bodo an organized strike of Williams' future matches or any other type of group response is unlikely in part because there is no officiating union.
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier acknowledged "the officials we use from around the world are very good at what they do," per Bodo, but he pointed out this creates an opportunity where the organization can push for more consistency in rule application, especially with female players.
"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," Williams said after the match, per Nicole Chavez of CNN. "He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief.' For me it blows my mind. But I'm going to continue to fight for women."
Chavez noted the Williams' incident wasn't the only recent controversy in terms of different rule applications between male and female players, as Alize Cornet was issued a code violation for fixing her shirt after noticing she was wearing it the wrong way.
By contrast, male players often change their shirts on the court without any penalty.
As for Ramos, Bodo noted he will next officiate Davis Cup semifinal matches between the United States men and Croatia.