Seeking her 24th US Open win, tennis star Serena Williams accumulated a total of $17,000 in fines during her match against Naomi Osaka.
Williams received her first fine from a sideline coaching penalty, which she declines saying she “would rather lose than cheat.” This was Williams’ first of three fines, and the fine was for $4,000. Next, Williams was penalized for breaking a racket out of frustration. Which, again, elicited more yelling from the player to the umpire, Carlos Ramos, about the call. This penalty cost her $3,000. Lastly, Williams called the umpire a “thief” in an argument over a call in which Ramos took the game from Williams, awarding the set to Osaka. This final call cost Williams a whopping $10,000.
These charges were subtracted from her total $1.85 million in winnings from for her position as runner up in this years US Open.
After the match concluded, leaving Osaka with her first US Open title, the crowd booed Osaka as she took the stage to receive her trophy. Commentators after the fact deemed this booing to be a result of Williams loss. Many spectators, in fact, blamed Osaka for Williams’ loss and large amount of penalties. When, in fact, each penalty Williams received were due to actions that were solely her own.
Williams extended her congratulations to Osaka on her first win as well as apologized for the poor behavior of the crowd as well as the negative attention brought to the game. Williams suggested that the media turn their attention to Osaka and her first win rather than spend their time and money scrutinizing Williams.
Following the match, Williams spoke during a press conference about her outburst during the game. Williams claimed that plenty of male tennis players call the umpires worse things, even using profane words but, they rarely get charged with fines as a result. Williams told the press that she believed the penalty that cost her the match to be “sexist.”
This comment caused the athletic world to explode in a frenzy. Were the actions of the umpire sexist? Did Williams deserve to pay that much in fines?
Personally, I do think the decision from the umpire to take the game from Williams for arguing and calling him a “thief” was sexist. This a common theme seen across all sports, the men tend to argue and push back against the referees more than the women. But, when a man argues back, he’s quoted as being “assertive” and “bold,” whereas a woman would be described as “explosive” or “out of control.” The double standard in this way is obvious.
But, on the other hand, I don’t think the remaining calls made by Ramos during that match were sexist in any way. Breaking a racket is a foul and calls for a penalty in both men’s and women’s matches; receiving sideline coaching during game play also results in a penalty.
There have been other incidents of sexism that, since this event, have been pointed out by Williams in support of her argument. One of these is the issue of changing shirts during the match. Men often change shirts during the match, especially in hotter weather in an attempt to stay cool. But, when a woman does the same thing, she is faced with a firm warning or even some form of punishment from the umpire.
There has also been a new ruling recently added to the men’s play that states that, during hotter games, men are now allotted short breaks during the matches to drink some water and get out of the sun. A rule that has been a part of the women’s game for years now.
The addition of this rule, the shirt incident and the recent match with Williams all point to sexism in the sports community. This is an ongoing issue that Williams hopes to continue to fight against. Having an athlete with a platform and following as large as Williams’, will hopefully shed more light onto the issue and lead to a solution in the near future.
Women should be treated and respected in the same way that men are in every community and in every aspect of life. Women are just as capable as men and should not be degraded, especially to the point where we feel like lesser beings solely because of your sex.