Naomi Osaka’s triumph at the US Open will be remembered as a historic accomplishment, but the focus remains on the shocking events that took place during her clash with Serena Williams.
On Sunday night, an extraordinary argument between Williams and the umpire, Carlos Ramos, resulted in her being slammed with a game penalty during the second set. The confrontation started when Williams was issued with a warning for coaching. Prompting her to approach the chair and state that she was doing no such action. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later admitted that he was coaching in the stands, but not directly at his player. Following on from that, the former world No.1 got a second warning and a point penalty after smashing her racket. Then uproar erupted in New York when Williams called Ramos a ‘liar’ and subsequently got docked an entire game. An action Williams believes was triggered by sexism.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” she said. “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. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’.” Williams said during her press conference.
“For me, it blows my mind, But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
The fallout from the match has divided an entire sport with figures speaking both for and against Williams’ action. Billie Jean King is the founder of the WTA Tour. The 12-time grand slam champion has backed Williams’ claims over double standards. Saying that ‘coaching should be allowed on every point in tennis.’
“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. Thank you (Serena Williams) for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.” King wrote on Twitter
Two-time grand Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka also stuck up for Williams on social media. Writing on Twitter – ‘If it was a men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t.’
The other view
Not everybody is so sympathetic to Williams. 24-time grand slam champion Margaret Court has backed Ramos over his decision. Saying that the American tried to ‘become bigger than the rules.’
“We always had to go by the rules,” Court told The Australian.
“It’s sad for the sport when a player tries to become bigger than the rules.
“Because the young player outplayed her in the first set, I think pressure got her more than anything.”
British player Liam Broady was another person to praise the umpire for standing up against Williams. Broady lost in the second round of qualifying at the US Open.
“I think incredibly strong from the umpire to not be intimidated by a GOAT (greatest of all time) of the game and hand out the game penalty even so?” Said Broady.
“You shouldn’t talk to anybody in this way whether they’re an umpire or person on the street.”
There is a chance that the argument may not be over yet. The WTA has confirmed that they will be investigating the incident. Although they have given no further information about what actions they may take.
“The chair umpire’s decision was final and not reviewable by the Tournament Referee or the Grand Slam Supervisor who were called to the court at that time.” The WTA said in a statement,
“There are matters that need to be looked into that took place during the match.”
Williams’ conqueror, Osaka, has become the first Japanese grand slam champion in the Open Era.
Carlos Ramos Won’t Umpire Serena Williams’ US Open Matches Following Infamous Clash
They two will be kept apart, but will it be enough to stop people talking about their previous confrontation?
23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos will be kept apart during the US Open following their high-profile spat at the tournament 12 months ago.
During the final of the US Open last year, controversy erupted when Ramos issued Williams with a violation for receiving coaching from the stands. Something which is prohibited in grand slam tennis. A livid Williams denied any wrongdoing immediately after. Suggesting the decision was sexist before calling the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief.’ In total, Williams was hit with three violations that resulted in a game penalty.
Stacy Allaster, who is the president of the USTA, has confirmed that Ramos will not be allowed to officiate Williams or her sister’s Venus’ matches during the grand slam. Saying that she didn’t want to cause a ‘distraction.’ This decision is said to be applied only to the 2019 tournament.
“We don’t need to go there,” Allaster told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “There are more than 900 matches here over the three weeks, and there are lots of matches for Carlos to do.”
“We want to be focused on the competition and want to go forward,” she added.
Ramos, who is from Portugal, was never found guilty of doing anything wrong during the match. The International Tennis Federation issued a statement shortly after the incident. In it, they said that Ramos ‘undertook his duties as an official, according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.’
Regardless of the move by the USTA to try and stay clear of the Williams-Ramos incident, it is set to be thrown back into the media spotlight in the coming days. Sports network ESPN will air a documentary called “Serena vs. The Umpire” on Sunday for the first time. It will be narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta, Jr.
“We’re exploring stories that are unresolved and have layers to them, and that’s certainly the case with what happened at last year’s US Open women’s final,” said John Dahl, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Special Projects and Original Content. “With this and subsequent stories, viewers will follow along with Don on his deep dive for truth.”
The TV program is set to include Patrick Mouratoglou, who is the coach of Williams. Pam Shriver and Chris Evert are also set to feature.
The US Open will get underway on August 26th.
Madison Keys Finally Finds Her Footing After Tough Few Weeks
Can the former top 10 player return to peak form in time for the US Open?
Entering into this week’s Western and Southern Open a single win would have been a much needed boost for Madison Keys ahead of the final grand slam of the season.
Keys, a former grand slam finalist herself, has been unable to shine on the women’s tour since reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open. In her past three tournaments, she has won one out of four matches played. To make it worse, two out of those three losses were to player’s ranked outside the top 100.
Fortunately for Keys her lull on the tour has ended this week in Cincinnati. An event where she made her debut back in 2012 at the age of 17. In the first round she saw off former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza in three sets before brushing aside Daria Kasatkina. However, her most impressive victory took place on Thursday. Taking on Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, Keys held her nerve to prevail 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, after just over two hours of play. Her first win over a top five player since Angelique Kerber at the same tournament 12 months ago.
“She’s been No. 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to, you know, ever give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before, you know, I could actually take a deep breath.” Keys said following her latest win.
“I think I just kind of trusted myself a little bit, and I didn’t really hold back on any of my shots. I think I made a couple of bad misses, but at the same time I think I did a lot of really good things.”
The triumphs come as Keys and her rivals tune up their game ahead of the US Open. Where the 24-year-old will be defending a wealth of points after reaching the semi-finals there last year. Flushing Meadows is a place of fond memories for former finalist Keys and statistically her most successful grand slam. Winning 19 out of 26 matches played in New York so far in her career.
“It feels a little bit better, a little less stressed. Ask me again in a week and I will be just as stressed.” She commented about her preparation for the upcoming major.
“In order to find that level right before a slam, obviously feels good, but especially after having some tough weeks, being able to kind of put it all together makes me feel a little bit better going into the US Open.”
Growing in confidence once again, Keys takes on tour veteran Venus Williams next. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 2-2, however, they haven’t played each other since 2016. A win would move the American into her first tour semi-final since April when she won the Volvo Open in Charleston.
“But again, she’s obviously playing some really good tennis in order to beat Kiki and then Vekic and all that. I’m going to have to see what she’s been doing well.” Keys previewed about her clash with Williams.
The quarter-final clash between the two will take place on Friday evening not before 19:00 local time. Keys is one of four seeded players remaining in the draw.
Inspired By The Old Guys, Richard Gasquet Reaches Cincinnati Quarters
The former top 10 player gives an estimate on how much longer he will continue playing tennis for.
When Richard Gasquet made his debut at the Cincinnati Masters back in 2005, Diego Schwartzman had just turned 13. 14 years later, the Frenchman continues to prove that age is just a number.
Taking on Schwartzman in the third round of this year’s tournament, Gasquet ousted the Argentine 7-6(6), 6-3, in their clash on Thursday. The encounter was by no means a walk in the park for the world No.56, who was forced to save a duo of set points during the opening tiebreak. Nevertheless, he prevailed with the help of 11 aces as he won 75% of his first service points.
“Of course it was an important first set. He was leading 6-4 in the tiebreak. It was the key of the match to win this set, because it was a one-hour-long set, physically very difficult.” Gasquet said during his press conference.
“I felt more confident winning it and then I could break him start of the second set, winning 3-0. I started well. Of course the last game was tough for me. I felt a little pressure, but it was a good game for me.”
It is only the second time Gasquet has managed to reach the last eight of the tournament and the first since 2016. An impressive outcome for a player who missed the first five months of 2019 due to a groin operation.
At the age of 33, Gasquet is approaching the final stages of his career. Which currently features 15 ATP titles and a ranking best of seventh in the world. However, the Frenchman is only the 15th oldest player currently in the top 100 on the ATP Tour thanks to a growing trend of players playing later in their careers. Something which inspires him.
“I don’t know how long I will play. Maybe two, three years.” He estimates. “It’s tough to say. I still like it (tennis). And of course, it’s a big longevity for me, but you see a lot of players who are playing late now, so it helps for me to play more and more.”
Whilst maintaining an optimistic outlook about his future, Gasquet knows better than anybody the demands the sport has on a person’s body. He also missed a chunk of the 2017 season due to his health and injury.
“When I was 20 years old, I didn’t see physio so much. But now, at 33, I need to see the physio every day.” Said Gasquet.
“That’s the difference, the big difference. As a teenager, when you’re young, of course, it’s easier to recover faster. Now at 33, you have to be very careful.”
Gasquet will play Dominic Thiem next, who is almost eight years younger than him. Should he win, he would reach the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since the 2013 Miami Open.
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