Ser­ena US Open drama pro­vides a new sex­ism for ten­niss

The Guardian Weekly - - Sport - Martha Kel­ner Anna Kes­sel

The ten­nis world was en­gulfed in a fresh row over sex­ism in sport last week­end fol­low­ing Ser­ena Wil­liams’s ex­tra­or­di­nary on-court tirade at an um­pire, Car­los Ramos, dur­ing the US Open fi­nal.

The fi­nal was won by Naomi Osaka of Ja­pan, an enor­mously tal­ented 20-year-old claim­ing her first ma­jor ti­tle, but will be re­mem­bered for the con­tro­versy prompted by a fu­ri­ous out­burst from Wil­liams.

There were sev­eral flash­points dur­ing the match, which de­scended to its most un­savoury mo­ment mid­way through the sec­ond set when the Span­ish um­pire pe­nalised Wil­liams for re­ceiv­ing on-court coach­ing, an ac­cu­sa­tion she de­nied fu­ri­ously. Wil­liams was later given a point penalty for smash­ing her racket and she ac­cused Ramos of be­ing a thief for steal­ing a point from her. Ramos, who is known on the cir­cuit for be­ing of­fi­cious, de­ducted a game from the Amer­i­can.

Most agree that Wil­liams’s of­fences were pun­ish­able by the let­ter of the law, al­beit that the law is not al­ways evenly ap­plied. Many – from Chris Evert to Bil­lie Jean King – ques­tioned whether Ramos, could have di­alled down the drama with a warning.

The big­ger ques­tion is whether ten­nis has a prob­lem blem with women, and with black lack women in par­tic­u­lar. The e fre­quency with which the e sport seems to cas­ti­gate the sex it took so long to equally recog­nise and re­mu­ner­ate is alarm­ing. Wil­liams, more of­ten than n not, bears the brunt of that. at. The ban­ning of her cat­suit it by the French Open – de­spite e

it hav­ing h been de­signed to sup­port the cham­pion’s post-na­tal med­i­cal needs nee – oc­curred just last month. The row over Al­izé Cor­net, pun­ished for an on-court shirt change, fol­lowed foll quickly. Now this.

Wil­liams W has sig­nalled that the ar­gu­ment arg won’t end here. De­bates about ab equal­ity in ten­nis go back a long lon way. Wit­ness the Bat­tle of the Sexes Sex match of 1973, when King beat be the chau­vin­ist ex-cham­pion Bobby Bo Riggs to dis­prove his claim of male ma su­pe­ri­or­ity.

“Maybe “it didn’t work out for me, but it’s go­ing to work out for the next per­son,” pe Wil­liams said.

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