Billie Jean King says Serena Williams was wronged by sexism and 'an archaic rule' at US Open
The tennis icon blames US Open umpire Carlos Ramos for making himself part of the match
Serena Williamsfor a trio of code violations at the US Open, and her on-court arguments with chair umpire Carlos Ramos an otherwise memorable Grand Slam win for 20-year-old Naomi Osaka.
She does, however, have the support of one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.
Four-time US Open champion Billie Jean King opened up on this weekend's controversy in a piece for The Washington Post, and her opinion was clear: Serena was right to stand up to Ramos' calls, which penalized her for breaking a racket, receiving hand signals from her coach and then defending those violations to Ramos. And King was adamant that it wasn't Williams' debate with Ramos that took away from Osaka's victory so much as it was "an archaic rule" and an "abuse of power."
"If tennis would catch up with the 21st century and allow coaching on every point," King wrote, "the situation on the court would never have escalated to the level of absurdity that it did."
Even worse than the rules, however, King identified Ramos as the main culprit in Saturday's incident.
"He made himself part of the match," she wrote. "He involved himself in the end result. An umpire's job is to keep control of the match, and he let it get out of control. The rules are what they are, but the umpire has discretion, and Ramos chose to give Williams very little latitude in a match where the stakes were highest."
King admitted that Williams could have done more to control her emotions, but she also noted that male tennis players haven't always been given such a short leash when it comes to expressing themselves on the court.
Did Ramos treat Williams differently than male players have been treated? I think he did. Women are treated differently in most arenas of life. This is especially true for women of color. And what played out on the court yesterday happens far too often. It happens in sports, in the office and in public service. Ultimately, a woman was penalized for standing up for herself. A woman faced down sexism, and the match went on.
King isn't alone in defending Williams, who has six US Open singles titles under her own belt.
As Deadspin reported this week, the U.S. Tennis Association and the Women's Tennis Association have released statements backing Williams and calling out a "difference in the standards of tolerance" by officials -- even with another governing body, the International Tennis Federation, defending Ramos for acting with "professionalism and integrity." Famed author J.K. Rowling, meanwhile, has voiced her support for Williams amid backlash to a cartoon depicting Serena's feud with Ramos, as CBS News reported, calling Williams "one of the greatest sportswomen alive."
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