Serena Williams, Sexism and the U.S. Open

Anna Farrar, News Editor

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On Sept. 8, the 2018 U.S. Open proved a historical matchup against Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka and American Serena Williams. While Williams was vying for her 24th Grand Slam win, Osaka defeated her in the final round. The score was 6-2, 6-4. But nobody will remember Osaka’s memorable win for the right reasons.

Osaka’s win has been overshadowed by what occurred on the court: an insanity including yelling, name-calling and racket-breaking.

During the match, Williams was 4-3 down when Carlos Ramos, the umpire, called the first penalty against her. She was receiving “coaching” from her coach, from hand signals. But Williams was facing away from her coach at the time–how could she have seen him try to communicate with her?

Nevertheless, Ramos gave her a warning for cheating. After losing another point and feeling the frustration from the umpire, Williams smashed her racket. Ramos gave her a point deduction.

During the next changeover, when the players switch sides, Williams approached Ramos and called a him a “thief” and asked him to apologize when he called her a cheater, saying that she’d “rather lose than cheat.”

He cited verbal abuse, costing Williams the game.

Sexism is rampant in the game of tennis. In late August, Alize Cornet was given a code violation for taking off her shirt to fix it. John Isner changed his shirt 11 times during a match while Novak Djokovic was shirtless for several minutes.

Earlier this year on the French Open, Williams’s “catsuit” was banned for “respect of the game.”   The French Open has never had a dress code before.

Serena Williams is appalled, as is most of the country, on Ramos’s decision on taking the game from her. Men who smash rackets or yell profanities are not criticized at all; they are called passionate or heated about their sport. Most do not receive penalties from the umpire either.

When Williams lost her composure, as many tennis players have done before, her passion was labeled as a “meltdown” and “hysteria.” One cartoon depicted Williams as a baby having a temper tantrum. Women in sports seem to have two sets of rules every time they step on the court. Williams and other women should be focusing on their doubles tournaments, not double standards.

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