SERENA ‘PUSHED TO THE LIMIT’
Djokovic says umpire changed course of final for Williams
US OPEN champion Novak Djokovic reckons umpire Carlos Ramos could have cost Serena Williams the women’s title as the tennis sexism row deepened.
Williams was fined £13,000 for a meltdown which saw her call Ramos a “thief ” for docking her a point in the final.
It led to chaotic scenes at Arthur Ashe Stadium with Williams in tears after losing to Naomi Osaka but Djokovic, who defeated Juan Martin del Potro to lift the men’s title on Sunday night, backed the American.
The Serbian said: “Maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final. It did change the course of the match and was maybe unnecessary. We all go through emotions, especially when fighting for a Grand Slam.”
Women’s Tennis Association chief Steve Simon accused Portuguese Ramos of treating women players differently. And the president of the United States Tennis Association, Katrina Adams, also hit out at Ramos, who issued Williams with three code violations including a game penalty.
Djokovic would not get drawn into the sexism row but made it clear he sympathised with the big-serving American. “Men and women are treated in this way or the other way depending on the situation,” he said. “I don’t see it’s necessary really to debate that. “I love Serena and I really felt for her. “Everyone was in a very awkward situation. A lot of emotions. Serena was crying. Naomi was crying. It was really tough. “I just feel like, as Serena said in the closing ceremony, Osaka deserves to have her moment. As for Serena, she knows I love her. She really inspires everyone. To see her still being so dedicated and so committed to this sport, it’s inspiring really to me and to many tennis players, both men and women, around the world.”
WTA head Simon released a statement as Djokovic (left) was being presented with his trophy after beating Del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3 on Sunday.
He said: “The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men and women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done on Saturday night.”
USTA supremo Adams said: “We have to have consistency because when you look at what the women, in this case Serena, are feeling, we watch the guys do this all the time. They are badgering the chair umpires on changeover yet nothing happens.”
But Ramos finally received some backing yesterday when the International Tennis Federation released a statement defending his professionalism and his performance.
An ITF statement said: “Mr Ramos acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.
“His decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were reaffirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Ms Williams for the three offences.”
LEGEND IN A RAGE Williams had a huge row with the umpire in the final and she has the support of Djokovic