CAPE TOWN – World governing body International Tennis Federation have stated that controversial umpire Carlos Ramos’ decisions to penalise Serena Williams during the US Open final “were in accordance with the relevant rules”.
Ramos issued three code violations to Williams during a highly-charged title decider against Japanese 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, who triumphed 6-2 6-4 to clinch her first Grand Slam.
The first violation sparked the controversy, as Ramos – who hails from Portugal – felt that Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching her with hand signals.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner denied that she had even looked at her coach, and was incensed and insisted she would never cheat to win. Mouratoglou later said in a TV interview that he had tried to coach Williams, who wasn’t looking his way.
The 36-year-old former World No 1 then smashed a racket after losing a game, which saw Ramos issue another code violation and awarding a point to Osaka.
Williams protested, telling Ramos he was a liar and a “thief for stealing a point” from her. The 47-year-old official had had enough, and issued another code violation – this time awarding a game to Osaka.
“Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules, and were reaffirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams ($17 000) for the three offences,” the ITF said in a statement.
“It is understandable that this high-profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate.
“At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book, and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”
The US Tennis Association will deduct the $17 000 (about R256 000) from Williams’ runner-up prize money of $1.85 million (R27.85m).
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), though, agree with Williams’ assertion that it was “sexist” for Ramos to have taken off a full game for the third violation, as she had seen many men escaping censure when they’ve argued with umpires in the past.
“The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men versus women. We do not believe that this was done,” said WTA chief executive Steve Simon said.