“Code violation: verbal abuse. Game penalty, Ms. Williams.” A bold call made by the renowned umpire Carlos Ramos in the US Open championship has sparked a controversy among the tennis world. Serena Williams, who some dub the greatest athlete of all time, faced Naomi Osaka, a 20 year old up-and-comer looking to be the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam. Williams was favored to win, but the match took an unexpected turn when a conflict arose between the athlete and Ramos.
The dispute arose when Ramos accused Williams of receiving coaching from the stands. Upset by the accusation, Williams informed Ramos, “You owe me an apology– I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter, and I stand for what’s right for her!” Clearly fazed by the allegation, Williams went on to receive a point penalty in the second set for smashing her racket on the court after losing a game. At this, Williams continued badgering Ramos about his earlier cheating accusation, demanding an apology. Osaka, managing to stay steady, lead 4-3 in the second set, just two games away from defeating her idol and claiming victory. During the changeover, another argument arose between Williams and Ramos, resulting in Williams calling Ramos a “thief”, and Ramos docking her a game for verbal abuse. This gave Osaka a 5-3 lead, and she kept her focus to win the match 6-2, 6-4.
Since the match, outraged fans have accused Ramos of sexism. As Williams has pointed out, men oftentimes get away with much worse behavior on court than she herself demonstrated. However, the claim made by USTA among other players is that because it was her third warning, the game penalty was in order.
The fact that was undermined by the controversy was Osaka’s unwavering focus and proficient performance in the championship. While Williams’ fans claim that had she not been penalized she would have won the match, becoming the second ever woman to win 24 Grand Slam titles (after Margaret Court), it is said that Osaka’s victory was fully earned. With only the advantage of one game and one point, Osaka fought her way through the match to win 11 other games. Overshadowed by the dispute between her opponent and the referee, Osaka has been undercredited for her win.
During the awards ceremony, Serena Williams graciously congratulated Osaka. She spoke out to the crowd, which was booing Ramos as Osaka received her award. Williams said, “She played well, and this is her first Grand Slam. I know you guys were here rooting, and I was rooting too, but let’s make this the best moment we can… let’s give everyone the credit where credit’s due, and let’s not boo anymore… congratulations Naomi, no more booing!” Post-match interviews with Osaka revealed that Willams told her she was proud of her, and congratulated her further.
Now that you’ve heard both sides of the argument, we want to know your opinion. Was Ramos’s call unprecedented? Would Williams have won if it weren’t for the game penalty? We’d love to hear your responses– email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments!