Tennis federation backs chair umpire's controversial rulings against Serena Williams

Serena Williams congratulated Naomi Osaka for her historic victory in Sunday’s U.S. Open women’s final. (Getty Images)

The International Tennis Federation stood by the chair umpire who issued three costly and highly controversial violations against Serena Williams in her U.S. Open women’s final loss to Naomi Osaka.

With Williams trailing Osaka 1-0 in the second set of her eventual 6-2, 6-4 loss, umpire Carlos Ramos issued the six-time U.S. Open champion a warning for allegedly receiving signals from her coach. Later in the same set, Ramos cited her for breaking her racket in frustration, and when she called him a thief for the resulting penalty that cost her a point, he issued a third violation that cost her a game.


“Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis,” the International Tennis Federation said in a statement. “Mr. Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the U.S. Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offenses.”

Indeed, Williams was fined a total of $17,000 by U.S. Open tournament officials — $10,000 for “verbal abuse” of an umpire, $4,000 for the coaching allegation and another $3,000 for the broken racket.

Despite Williams pleading to Ramos that she would “rather lose” than “cheat to win,” her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later conceded that he was offering her guidance from his box at the match.

Williams contended that Ramos treated her outburst differently from her male counterparts, many of whom call umpires far worse than thieves. Mouratoglou also suggested that most players, including Osaka, receive coaching advice during matches and that Ramos rarely issues such warnings to men.

The ITF’s unilateral support for Ramos comes as arguably the greatest tennis player in history is being subjected to racist and sexist political cartoons for her on-court behavior during Sunday’s final.

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