Umpires consider boycotting Serena Williams
Tennis umpires are pushing back against Serena Williams and her charges of sexism, according to articles published Monday by two news media outlets.
The Times of London reported that chair umpires are considering refusing to officiate matches involving Williams, although the newspaper did not identify the source of the information.
The Guardian reported that tennis officials are discussing forming a union that would empower them.
The potential moves stem from anger among officials after Williams accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism Saturday after Williams’ 6-2, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka at the US Open women’s final. Ramos issued Williams three code violations, including one for verbal abuse, which cost her a whole game.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) supported Williams’ claims of sexism. The International Tennis Federation (ITF), which oversees chair umpires for the four Grand Slam events, backed Ramos. But the ITF did not offer public support until 48 hours after the match and that delay angered officials, according to the Guardian.
Tennis umpires are independent contractors and generally prohibited from discussing specific matches. On Tuesday, Ramos told Tribuna Expresso in his native Portugal, “I’m fine, given the circumstances. It’s a delicate situation.”
Other umpires are expressing anger.
“The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,” Richard Ings, a retired, elite Gold Badge umpire told ESPN.com. “They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls.”
But Ings suggested it was unlikely the umpires would boycott Williams’ matches.