Sexism, Racism or Complete Lack of Common Sense?
There is a long history of referees swallowing their whistles at the end of close games and equally as long a list of examples of superstar athletes getting favoritism or, at the very least, the benefit of the doubt from officials. So, why wasn't that the case for the greatest female tennis player of all-time?
In a sport that forbids strategic interaction between coach and player during matches, it is beyond common for said coach to instruct said player from the stands. That is exactly what happened between Patrick Mouratoglou and Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final on Saturday. Mouratoglou admits it and still it's absurd for an infraction to be assessed. Beyond that, Serena smashed her racquet later in the second set and chair umpire Carlos Ramos levied another penalty on the 23-time grand slam champion. The result? A point to her opponent, 20-year old Naomi Osaka, who had already made some history by becoming the first Japanese woman to reach a grand slam final.
Once Williams realized she had been docked a point or rather he opponent staked to a 15-love lead in one of Osaka's service games, she gave another earful to Ramos calling him a thief. That was a third strike and Williams was penalized a full game, putting her behind 5-3 in the second set. Serena would lose the final 6-2, 6-4, but the full attention was on her feud with the umpire, the rulings and how they were handled.
Was Mouratoglou coaching? Yes. Did it deserve a violation? No. But if the umpire is so hellbent on making the call, then there needs to be some leeway elsewhere. You simply cannot overreact to the slamming of a racquet in frustration or being called names.
Is this sexism, racism or a complete lack of common sense? With hope that someone ruling on a championship match wouldn't be a bigot, I'm choosing lack of common sense. Whatever the disconnect, it was an ugly, disappointing finish to the U.S. Open and in many ways, I feel the worst for Naomi Osaka whose first grand slam title, beating out her idol, is lost in all of this controversy.