Serena Williams fined $17,000 for US Open final remarks, but it could prompt tennis to change its ways

  • The women's final was the latest and loudest example of umpiring controversies at the 2018 U.S Open and have prompted the USTA to review its code of conduct for the event in the future.
  • "Some of these incidents, you know, have prompted us to reflect on the clarity of our own communication to the chair umps," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said Sunday. "These incidents will prompt us to analyze ways of perhaps instituting some change. We certainly do not want inconsistencies."
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in New York City. 
Michael Owens | Getty Images
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in New York City. 

The fine of $17,000 handed to Serena Williams was relatively insignificant compared with the $1.85 million she received for finishing as runner-up at the U.S. Open. But, the ramifications of what caused it continue to divide the world of tennis.

During Saturday's controversial final, in which Naomi Osaka provided Japan with its first tennis Grand Slam singles champion, Williams was cited three times for code violations in which she called chair umpire Carlos Ramos a "liar" and a "thief." She also alleged he treated her differently than male players.

Williams, who is still seeking a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title, was handed a warning for a coaching violation, before being deducted a point for smashing her racket in another violation. She then had a heated argument with Ramos, resulting in her being docked a game during the second set in a third violation.

As the first violation was announced, Williams approached the umpire's chair to say she never takes coaching when on a competitive court and would rather lose than "cheat to win."

"I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff and for me to say 'thief' and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark," said Williams after the final. "He's never took a game from a man 'cause they said 'thief,' for me it blows my mind!"

Tennis great Billie Jean King, who won 12 Grand Slam titles of her own, said on social media: "When a woman is emotional, she's 'hysterical' and she's penalized for it. When a man does the same, he's 'outspoken' and there are no repercussions."

However, Richard Ings, a former professional chair umpire who also used to be the ATP Tour executive vice president for rules and competition, felt it was Williams who needed to apologize.

"We should not let her record, as glowing as it is, overshadow the fact that on this day, in this match Williams was wrong," Ings said in The Sydney Morning Herald.

"The decisions made by Ramos had nothing to do with sexism or racism. They had everything to do with observing clear breaches of the grand slam code of conduct and then having the courage to call them without fear or favor."

The women's final was the latest and loudest example of umpiring controversies at the 2018 U.S. Open and have prompted the USTA (United States Tennis Association) to review its code of conduct for the event in the future.

Another umpire, Christian Rask, came in for criticism after he handed a code violation to French player Alize Cornet in an earlier round, after she removed her shirt on court after realizing it was on backward.

The tournament subsequently released a statement saying it regretted that she was given a violation.

"Some of these incidents, you know, have prompted us to reflect on the clarity of our own communication to the chair umps," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said Sunday. "These incidents will prompt us to analyze ways of perhaps instituting some change. We certainly do not want inconsistencies."

Ramos meanwhile is no stranger to controversial inconsistencies. Earlier this year at Wimbledon he was in the chair during the quarterfinal between Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori. During the match both players were seen throwing their rackets to the ground in frustration, but only the Serb was punished.

Elsewhere, Ramos, who is among tennis' "gold badge" umpires, also angered Rafael Nadal at the 2017 French Open, penalizing the Spaniard for slow play.