Serena Williams calls out sexism in tennis


ISHOT71/ Wikimedia Commons

Serena Williams prepares to send the tennis ball back across the court at the exhibition event at the BNP Parabas Showdown. Williams has been in the news recently following the controversial rulings against her by a referee at the U.S. Open Final, which many have deemed sexist and discriminatory.

Chyna Smith, Style and Culture Section Editor

On Sept. 8, 2018, Carlos Ramos, the referee of the U.S. Open Final, was accused of sexism by tennis champion Serena Williams. After Williams received a warning violation because her coach was seen allegedly guiding her during the match, he docked a full point from Williams after she smashed her racket out of frustration. Williams then was docked a game because she called the referee a “thief” for stealing the point from her. After the match, Williams was fined $17,000.
The match itself saw Naomi Osaka beat Williams to win the U.S. Open. Williams did not seem phased as she struggled, but what happened next angered her. The referee, Ramos, accused Williams of cheating, and she demanded an apology. Williams said in an interview with CNN,      “I don’t cheat. I’d rather lose. Every time I play here, I have problems.”
Williams is currently speaking out about sexism she believes exists in the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). According to CNN, Williams also said, “There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right.”
Many believe sexism is alive and well in the tennis community: “There have been plenty of times where the males get away with everything,” Williams said. During the Open, Alize Cornet, a French professional tennis player, changed her top during a 10-minute break, realized it was on backwards and fixed it. The refs gave her a code violation. The U.S. Open organizers later made a response to the sexism Cornet believed she received. Allegedly, U.S. Open organizers have expressed “regret” for the way Cornet was treated for briefly taking off her shirt on court. However, many have wondered why it is so different for Williams.
The ATP also banned the Nike body suit the day after Williams wore it to a tennis match. She wore the suit in May after giving birth to her first child. The bodysuit was designed to fit her health conditions, like preventing blood clots and other post-pregnancy complications. According to Vox, French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said, “I think we sometimes went too far… The combination of Serena this year, for example, it will no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.”
Tiye Dennis, ‘21, shared her thoughts: “I feel for what she was saying. And like, you know, how she got upset over it. But I feel like she could’ve controlled her energy a little bit more.”
It is still unknown if these scandals will change the rules or culture of future U.S. Open tournaments. Nevertheless, the debate over the effect of sexism in professional tennis seems unlikely to go away.