Sue Barker leads calls for rule changes after Serena Williams’ US Open row

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Sue Barker has called for there to be a “look at the rules” following an extraordinary US Open final that saw Serena Williams lose to Naomi Osaka after an angry confrontation with the umpire.

Greats of the game, current and former players and officials have been reacting to the final, with Carlos Ramos’ decision-making, which saw Williams docked a point and then a game over a row sparked by a warning for coaching, being met with support and criticism.

Meanwhile there has been further debate over Williams’ charge that she had been a victim of sexism from the chair.

Serena Williams had an angry confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos (Andrew Couldridge/PA).
Serena Williams had an angry confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos (Andrew Couldridge/PA).

“But Serena in some ways has a point in the fact that I’ve sat courtside watching the men ranting at umpires and (they) haven’t been given a violation. Both have a point.

“Serena is saying the male players can say what they like to an umpire. Also, earlier in the tournament we saw Alize Cornet being given a code violation for changing her shirt on-court. Then, in the same tournament, Mohamed Lahyani gets off the umpires’ chair to talk to Nick Kyrgios and persuade him not to give up on a match.

“So I think they have to look at the rules of what is allowed and what isn’t, because I just think he was following the rules absolutely by the book, but sometimes the book has to be re-written – you can’t have one rule for some players, and some umpires don’t adhere to it and allow players to get away with things.

Sue Barker says
Sue Barker says “tennis was the loser” (David Davies/PA).

“I wouldn’t want to see it, but if it’s coming to things like this, it’s ruining the game – if they can’t adhere to the rules, then they’ll have to allow the coaching.

“I think the WTA, the ATP and the ITF have to get together. It can’t be a grey area any more, and maybe there has to be a supervisor that comes on to have the final say, before you give a game away.”

Former US Open champion Andy Roddick tweeted that it was the “worst refereeing I’ve ever seen ……the worst !!!”

Williams was furious when she was given a coaching violation early in the second set after a hand gesture from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, telling Ramos she would rather lose than cheat.

Former US Open quarter finalist Mardy Fish came out in defence of Williams, tweeting: “She wasn’t even looking. Believe what you want”.

She was then docked a point for a second violation when she smashed her racket. Williams then accused Ramos of being a “thief” for taking a point away from her and he gave her a third violation, docking a game.

Fish tweeted: “What a wild US Open for the Ref’s. Two ridiculous calls today. I can promise you, that’s not coaching, racquet abuse no doubt, but the verbal abuse??? It’s the US Open Final!!!”

Williams said after the match: “For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark.”

Two-time finalist and former world number one Victoria Azarenka tweeted: “If it was men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t.”

Meanwhile Billie Jean King said that Williams had called out a “double standard”.

She tweeted: “Several things went very wrong during the @usopen Women’s Finals today. Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.

“When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” & and there are no repercussions.”

Support for Williams was not universal, with some saying the 23-time Grand Slam winner was simply in the wrong.

Andrew Castle said the incident was reminiscent of Williams’ meltdown at the same tournament in 2009 against Kim Clijsters.

He tweeted: “Memories of Clijsters match. You just can’t act like that I’m afraid. #Serena now claiming that men do this. More nonsense. Is she claiming sexism? This is not right.”

Richard Ings, a former rules and competition chief for the ATP, defended Ramos and called on the sport’s governing bodies to support him.

“When coaches and players come out and threaten the employment of umpires then it falls to the governing bodies to defend those officials just doing their job,” he tweeted.

“Carlos Ramos was doing his job. And doing it well in my extremely experienced opinion.”

In a statement, the US Open said the chair umpire’s decision was final.

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