Serena Williams’ charge of sexism by an umpire during the U.S. Open finals Saturday was backed in a statement by the World Tennis Association’s chief executive Steve Simon Sunday.
In an extraordinary show of support, Simon issued a statement on the WTA website that was critical of umpire Carlos Ramos for penalizing Williams during the match, where she lost to Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4.
According to BBC Sports, Ramos issued a code violation against Williams for coaching, a penalty point for racquet abuse, and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “thief” during the match.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff,” Williams said in a news conference following the match, per CNN. “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.’ For me, it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
Simon came to Williams’ defense in his statement Sunday.
“The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same,” he said in his WTA statement. “We do not believe that this was done last night.
“We also think the issue of coaching needs to be addressed and should be allowed across the sport. The WTA supports coaching through its on-court coaching rule, but further review is needed,” Simon continued.
Katrina Adams, head of the U.S. Tennis Association, added to the criticism of Ramos, charging that on the men’s side, the players argue with umpires constantly during changeovers and have never been penalized in the way Williams was, BBC Sports stated.
“We watch the guys do this all the time,” Adams said, per BBC Sports. “There’s no equality when it comes to what the men are doing to the chair umpires and what the women are doing, and I think there has to be some consistency across the board.”
The match was part of Williams’ continued comeback after giving birth to a daughter and missing a year on the tennis court. At 36, she has reached the finals of the last two tennis majors. She lost to Angelique Kerber in the finals at Wimbledon 6-3, 6-3. She has won 23 Grand Slam titles on the Open Era.