US Open umpire Carlos Ramos speaks out about Serena Williams sexism row
Williams called Ramos a ‘thief’ during her loss to Osaka in the New York final
The umpire who was labelled a “thief”, a “liar” and “sexist” has spoken publicly for the first time about the stormy US Open women’s singles final.
Serena Williams suffered what was described as a “meltdown” during her straight sets defeat last Saturday to Naomi Osaka, her fury directed at the man in the chair, Carlos Ramos.
The experienced Portuguese official issued three code violations against the American legend, and that prompted a furious tirade from Williams that turned the final from back page to front page news around the world.
‘Don’t worry about me’
Opinion has been sharply divided as to who was at fault, but the man at the centre of the storm kept his silence until he spoke to Portuguese newspaper Tribuna Expresso.
“I’m fine, given the circumstances,” said Ramos. “It’s a delicate situation, but ‘à la carte’ arbitration does not exist. Don’t worry about me.”
He added that he has received hundreds of messages of support, including many from current and former players.
It was the sort of plain-talking response one would expect from Ramos, an umpire with a reputation for being a stickler for the rules. Many players, male and female, have been upbraided by the 47-year-old down the years, including Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal.
Back in the chair
Ramos will be back in the chair tomorrow, officiating the Davis Cup semi-final matches between Croatia and the United States in Zadar, and he has the full support of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who fined Williams $17,000 (£13,000) for her behaviour.
In contrast, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) both sided with Williams in the immediate aftermath of the controversy, as did tennis legend Billie Jean King.
‘Out of line’
But King has subsequently softened her stance, admitting that Williams let herself down, the BBC reports. “Serena was out of line, there’s no question,” said King, one of the founders of the WTA.
Nonetheless, she maintained that Ramos aggravated the situation with his officiousness. “I felt like he blew it,” said King. “First of all as an umpire you’re supposed to keep the flow of the match going and he did just the opposite.
“He needed to tell Serena he can’t apologise, he did the right thing there, he’s got to be the boss - but all he had to say to Serena is: ‘I am not attacking your character’… the character was the biggest issue here. This is a human being you’re talking to. If he had said ‘I’m not attacking your character’ everything would have been different.”
Winter of discontent
Meanwhile, The Australian reports that Williams’ behaviour could have repercussions in the next major tournament, January’s Australian Open. The newspaper claimed that “umpires are considering refusing to officiate matches involving the American, such is the discontent over the treatment of Carlos Ramos”.