Serena Williams… Double Standards?

Double standards have certainly existed in tennis.  This is a topic I honestly feel have been ignored. I’ve played tennis most of my life and earned a full ride to college. Personally I have never experienced sexism or racism in the sport, for which I am grateful. I admit, I was the player that gave umpires hell, but even so I never felt like I was treated any differently because I was a woman or a “black” woman. 

Quite frankly, Saturday’s match was embarrassing to watch. It took me a few days to see it for myself. In the meantime, I was following the hype on social media (big mistake). Media outlets suggested that Serena was cheated out of the match (as if Osaka hadn’t won the first set 6-2). And she beat Serena almost six months earlier, 6-2, 6-3. People suggested that the umpire was racist (but Osaka’s father is Haitian and he didn’t treat her differently). People insinuated that there was a double standard. Although double standards and racism have been a part of the sport, Saturday’s match was not an example. 

The facts…

 Serena received a code violation for coaching. Understandably, she was very upset about the call and addressed it with the umpire. She believed he was calling her a cheater and questioning her character. The umpire acknowledged what she was saying and ensured her that he didn’t believe she was a cheater and was not questioning her character. For the record, 99 percent of coaching violations occur because of the coach’s actions and not the player. Even though Serena may not have seen the signals, after the match, her coach confessed to coaching her. That certainly didn’t help her case at all. 

Following the 5th game of the 2nd set, with Serena up 3-2, she became frustrated after losing a game on her serve. She smashed her racket breaking it, which is a code violation. The act automatically resulted in her receiving a point penalty. Believing the racket violation should have only received a warning, the umpire reminded her that she received a warning following the coaching infraction. This did not set well with Serena. 

The match continued on and so did Serena’s demanding an apology from the umpire…something she was not going to receive, nor did she deserve. During the change-over with Serena now down 3-4 to Osaka she continued going back and forth with the umpire. She called him a “thief” and a “liar,” and declared he would never chair another one of her matches. The verbiage earned her a 3rd conduct violation, and she was penalized a full game for abuse of the umpire. 

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So what’s my Opinion?

Serena was completely wrong. She should have taken the first code violation, said what she needed to say right then and there and move on. I also believe she could have made the same statements of the umpire being a thief or a liar when the first violation was given and nothing would have happened. She decided to drag it out through the entire 2nd set and that’s where she messed up. 

As I stated above, double standards do exist in tennis. To use this match as an example of sexism was not the best example. Sexism and racism are topics that need to be addressed, and the tennis world should be discussing it. Not just because Serena found herself losing in a match and the crowd was rooting for her to tie Margaret Courts record for most grand slam wins.

My heart broke for Naomi Osaka. Serena has been her idol, and she dreamed of this very moment. What was supposed to be a life changing moment in her tennis career was completely destroyed. Instead of celebrating she was apologizing for winning her first grand slam title. Naomi is an amazing player, and I look forward to following her in her career and hopefully being able to catch as many matches of hers that I can. She deserved to win and I hate that her accomplishment was completely overshadowed when it didn’t have to be. 

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