Serena treated unfairly?

Serena Williams was penalised in the US Open final

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What happened at the US Open final?

By Joe Harker

The final of the US Open between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka was marred by controversy. Osaka won the first Grand Slam of her career, beating Williams 6-2 6-4, but the most talked about factor of the final has been the clashes between Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos.

In the second game of the second set Ramos penalised Williams with a code violation after spotting coach Patrick Mouratoglou making hand signals. Williams' coach later admitted that he had attempted to communicate with her, though said he didn't believe she saw his message.

Williams later incurred a point penalty for smashing her racket and was given a game penalty for calling Ramos a "liar" and "a thief". After the match she accused Ramos of sexism. She said: "I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff.

"For me to say 'thief' and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief'. It blows my mind."

Taken as an individual match, Ramos was right to issue Williams penalties for illegal coaching, smashing her racket and abusing the umpire. The issue is when and why rules aren't applied consistently.

Mouratoglou insisted that every coach breaks the rules by trying to coach their player from the sidelines and is almost never punished for it. He also stressed that Williams didn't see the gestures he was making so could not have benefited from them.

Several former male tennis players have chimed into the debate to support Williams, saying that they have shouted worse at umpires with no such penalty. Many agree with Williams that a man would likely have got away with smashing his racket and shouting at the umpire with less of a punishment.

A look at Ramos' history as an umpire shows he is a stickler for the rules and hands out plenty of code violations, though Williams is far from the first player to accuse him of double standards. Even if other umpires are less stringent on following the rules Ramos has shown in the past that he will not hesitate to penalise players.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post believes Ramos wrecked the final from the umpire's chair and accused him of abusing his authority. She believes the first violation from Ramos was "pure pettiness", accepts that the second was a valid punishment and criticised him for failing to calm the situation down afterwards, leading to the third violation.

Williams demanded an apology from Ramos but former umpire Richard Ings writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that it should be the other way around. Ings writes that the code violations Ramos handed out were the right decision each time and he is now being accused of sexism for correctly enforcing the rules.

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