The nascent boycott isn’t aimed at Serena as much as it is at the Women’s Tennis Association and U.S. Tennis Association, they say, for backing up her claim that umpire Carlos Ramos was “sexist” in penalizing her at the Open. It’s one thing for a player to behave boorishly towards an umpire who was within his rights to flag her as he did, but for the sport’s governing bodies to pile on? Inexcusable.
If it’s the WTA/USTA they’re mad at, though, then I don’t understand the point of limiting the boycott to Williams. Boycott an entire tournament. Walk. Boycotting Serena exclusively makes it that much easier for her to argue that the umps have it in for her.
Did any umps ever mass-boycott “bad boy” John McEnroe when he had one of his signature on-court aneurysms over a bad call?
“The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,” Richard Ings, a retired, elite Gold Badge umpire told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls.”…
The Times of London reported Tuesday “there was a growing consensus that umpires were ‘not supported’ by the USTA on several occasions, and that Ramos was ‘thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it’.”
The report also cited an anonymous source who said officials were considering a boycott of future matches involving Williams.
Did the WTA really side with Williams against Ramos? Yeah, pretty much:
WTA chief executive Steve Simon took an opposing view and he appeared to side with Williams’ claims of sexism.
‘Saturday brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches,’ Simon said.
‘The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men versus women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done last night.
Something that I didn’t know before reading about the boycott chatter: There’s no umpiring union in tennis. That’s one reason why the boycott is unlikely to happen according to the retired official who spoke to ESPN. Another thing I learned is that even elite “Gold Badge” umpires like Ramos who get assigned to the finals of Grand Slam tournaments get paid next to nothing to do so. The Daily Mail says Ramos would have earned less than $500 for the match despite having almost 30 years of experience. Another site notes that “There is also concern that the controversy could have a trickle down effect to the grassroots of tennis where there are struggles to attract people to umpiring.” My goodness. A chilling effect on an entire generation of tennis officials, all because one of them got chewed out by Serena Williams?
I don’t follow the sport closely enough to know for certain but all of this sounds suspiciously like the umpires are seizing on the opportunity presented by the Williams incident as leverage for … something. Presumably better pay. Or maybe some union-minded members are trying to galvanize an appetite among the rest for unionization. Any tennis fans want to correct me on that? I’m open to the possibility that this is nothing more or less than it seems — a group of people who do what they do out of love, for practically no pay, and then have to endure being scapegoated publicly not just by a mega-millionaire superstar but by the entire corrupt establishment that’s in thrall to its golden goose.
Here’s Williams after Saturday’s match.