I know you’ve seen it all over the internet. Serena and the umpire and the backlash that has ensued. It’s awful and ugly and heartbreaking to see… but I really think we NEED to see it. Not to be angry (which I am) but to realise that if nothing changes… then nothing changes.
Seeing women treated so differently from men hurts… a lot. But if we don’t face it then we can’t change it. And Serena has been facing it head on for a while now. Williams has already endured countless obstacles this season, from losing her seeding due to her pregnancy, overcoming drastic health complications from her birth, and then having her medically necessary catsuit deemed unacceptable by French tennis officials. And now this…
In The US Open Tennis Final, Ramos, the chair umpire, gave Serena a warning for supposedly getting “coached” via a hand signal. If you’re not familiar with Tennis, know that hand gestures from coaches are SO common that this is mind boggling. It wasn’t even likely that Serena even saw it or if it would have impacted her game in any way. The call seemed purposefully made to diminish perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time, during a year in which she has made a return to the sport after having had a baby, come close to dying after a postpartum hematoma, and lost her No. 1 seed as a result of her absence from the game.
To make the coaching call, in the middle of a match that she knew she was going to lose fair and square, and to suggest that Serena was cheating made her livid. As it should. And we all know that black women aren’t allowed to be angry without consequence……. but that’s another feature!!
“You owe me an apology!”
Serena was fired up with the official in the final set of the US Open final. pic.twitter.com/r6RSbrirnV
— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2018
And then others chimed in… like Billie Jean King and the head of the U.S. Tennis Association…
(1/2) Several things went very wrong during the @usopen Women’s Finals today. Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalised for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 9, 2018
(2/2) When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalised for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” & and there are no repercussions. Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 9, 2018
While the head of the U.S. Tennis Association said that both Serena Williams and the chair umpire shared some responsibility for a situation that spiralled out of control, she believes there is a double standard at play when it comes to how male and female tennis players are treated.
“In my opinion, right now, yes, and it probably always has been,” Katrina Adams, the CEO of the sport’s governing body, told “CBS This Morning” Tuesday. “I think it’s a matter of having a conversation with the two guys and saying let’s cut it out, let’s slow it down, and then perhaps not understanding how they can have the same conversation with the females. We shouldn’t have to carry that extra weight on our back in anything that we do. I think that’s probably the context of the conversation.”
Compare the neutral coverage of male players’ transgressions from Roger Federer to Novak Djokovic with what happened to Serena. Just this season alone Dominic Thiem smashed multiple rackets. At the Rome Open in May, the Sky Sports commentary observed: “Broke it in style, didn’t he?” as Thiem violently destroyed his racket. “Not condoning it, but you can understand his frustration.” When he did it AGAIN in the US Open, they applauded him for giving the broken racket to a fan. SO much different than what happened with Serena.
And don’t even get me started on the “bad boys” of tennis… Male tennis players have gotten away with much worse behaviour for years. John McEnroe had a long and storied career of cursing out officials, throwing his racket, verbally attacking his opponents, which made him famous as the bad boy of tennis. Roger Federer repeatedly cursed at a linesman, saying, “don’t f*cking talk to me.”
Here we go with the double standard again. Add racism and some more misogyny and we have the perfect storm of what is happening to Serena right now.
She has been accused of going “nuclear” during the 2018 US Open women’s final by a conservative columnist at The Herald Sun, the Australian newspaper that published a vulgar cartoon grossly exaggerating her weight, lips, and nose and depicting her as an angry baby. The paper has also attempted to discredit her character.
This is why that Serena Williams cartoon is extremely problematic: pic.twitter.com/dMW43wVPdx
— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 12, 2018
I myself MUCH prefer this cartoon…
Stung by what they perceive as a lack of institutional support for the chair umpire who gave Serena Williams a game penalty late in the U.S. Open women’s final, which set off a firestorm of criticism, other umpires are reportedly discussing the possibility of boycotting her matches. Top umpires are also considering the formation of a union, according to a report Tuesday, in part because they are not allowed to discuss specific matches.
Here’s proof Serena Williams was the victim of a sexist double standard at the U.S. Open pic.twitter.com/YUFqFrGuzE
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 16, 2018