By: J. Nemr
Serena Williams, considered a true Legend amongst athletes in the the world of tennis, was always known for her strong and determined personality. During the start of the month of September, she took it to a whole new level.
Both tennis fans and equal rights advocates were absolutely astounded as Naomi Osaka’s (Japan) victory on the US Open was completely overshadowed by Serena Williams’ allegations on the umpire’s sexist attitude on court. The Number 1 player stands by the fact that she was treated differently than a man would have been treated for doing exactly what she did and saying exactly what she said. She believed it was solely sexist and that there is a serious double standard for women in the tennis world.
After facing racist attacks throughout her career, for being a dark-skinned woman, she claimed this type of behavior from supervisors or umpires is rampant in sport. On the US Open, the respected umpire Carlos Ramos was accused of sexism by Williams after she was handed 3 code violations throughout the match. The first one was appointed for communicating from the stands while the second one, which was in no way justifiable, for smashing her racket. What really triggered the athlete, was the moment she approached to umpire to express her outrage for the previous violations and called him a “thief" for stealing her point. This resulted on her game penalty.
"I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff. 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," Williams stated.
The measures which were taken surrounding the discussion got to the point where the International Tennis Federation made the decision to release several statements to attempt to tone down the heat which was provoked throughout the week. The federation positioned itself neutrally to a certain extent. Even though it showed support and empathy towards Serena when it justified the athlete's discontent, ("It is understandable that this high profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate…”) It also emphasized that Carlos Ramos was simply undertaking “…his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity."
Several figures and influential athletes took on Williams' side on the controversy, including Billie Jean King, a tennis legend and equal rights advocate when he explained that "When a woman is emotional, she's "hysterical" and she's penalized for it. When a man does the same, he's "outspoken" & and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same” on his twitter page. For the CNN sport analyst, Christine Brennan, the clash between Serena and Carlos further enunciates sexism in sport.
Apart from this, female players such as Alize Cornet are being penalized for fixing their clothing on court while male players are allowed to change shirts or expose skin during matches without a problem. It is important to realize that all of this outrage is the accumulation of recent times sexism has been called out on the tennis court making Williams not the only tennis player to find herself at the center of a gender-based controversy.