My 2 Cents on Serena-gate


You should know my view of Serena Williams. This tennis blog got a little traction when a post of mine was published on another blog, so readers (and critics) subsequently followed the breadcrumbs to Mcshow Blog.

Let’s not forget this other critical point about yesterday’s women’s final brouhaha: Osaka was definitively in front and having her way in that match. Serena was in a lot of trouble as far as the competition was concerned; this disadvantage almost certainly fueled actions and behavior in question.

Good on Ramos for being assertive and “by the book.”

Let’s see that same kind of hardened umpiring across the board.

11 thoughts on “My 2 Cents on Serena-gate

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Matt, here is my half cent 😉
    I could not understand details of the big conversation. I could not find any transcription. But I know generally what it was about.
    I agree, there are at least three guilty parties.
    I think, there may be another one. The racist history of USA (still going on somehow) and a kind of guilty conscience of probably most of educated Americans. This kind of made Williams Sisters untouchable. For a reason, I can understand. And … we should not take it too serious (but I don’t know American feelings about it) – how many things are these days not called “racism, sexism, whatever”. And Serena feels maybe a symbol of two big discriminations of the Modern Era. On the other side – Serena is not that bad loser – she can behave really graceful.
    For a half cent it’s maybe too much told?


    1. I think you have a point here about that fourth guilty party. But I would rather not blame the U.S. racism as that invites so many critics — it’s such a broad target.

      If we’re talking about history, I would point to her history. We recall her over-reacting to line judges, chairs, etc., in the past — she has quite the temper. Even her behavior on court with her opponent — Serena can bully people: that’s her history.

      I would say it’s more of a Serena issue than an American racism issue — but tough to deny how she might feel victimized to a certain extent in these situations.

      The consistency of the refereeing, for me, may be the biggest issue here (her reaction is critical too, but. . . ).

      If you’re going to call coaching violations, CALL COACHING VIOLATIONS. Don’t just pick-on that incident in the women’s final of a major. That got the whole controversy rolling.

      Rafa and several other men in today’s much softer professional game have running conversations with their box (coach) throughout the match. Give me a break.

      And with Mo coming-out of his chair to give Kyrgios a hug (a guy who TANKS matches — this is a fact, WJ) — that is all kinds of inconsistency/double standard/potentially sexism. Why would you be so by the book in this particular case (look at the timing) and seemingly overlook so many other cases.

      It’s like seeing a player foot fault here and there through out a match, but the line judge only calls it late in a match at a critical point in the match. That is going to be very controversial.

      So, again, good for Ramos that he stood-up to Serena, followed the rules, codes of conduct, etc. But this strictness has to be consistent. Otherwise, players will be “blind-sided.”


  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    I didn’t mean, racism to be directly a problem here, rather another over-reaction when people want to be more than correct. Just like in many cases with antisemitism all over the world.
    Consistency is of course a problem. They all are humans and have emotions. Umpires have rules but are under great pressure from crowds, more than players.
    Maybe we need more digital solutions. Why limited number of challenges if the umpire can get instantly the image on every point, if there is a claim or not. Why is Eyehawk not used on clay? Milan was a good experiment.
    On the other hand many think, tennis will miss those emotions if everything is digitalized. No more emotions when waiting what Eyehawk will tell.I think, 25 second rule is not the right solution. Still it’s the umpire, who starts the clock. Why do we have still linespeople, when every call can be overrules by chair even if the player is challenging.
    Good rules don’t need a supervisor.
    It’s all maybe generation-specific mentality. Young guys in Milan did not have any problem with live” Eyehawk or shot clock.
    And the new tested rule allowing coaching using earphones and the coaching streamed to the public – I like it. If coaching of this kind can really help the player, why not allow it? And I’m quite sure, such coaching does exist since years. We have now rackets sending lot of information to the smartphone. The player can have micro-earphone and microphones built into the shirt or attached to the head. And it works not only on changeovers. Still I’m quite sure, it cannot help much; for sure not to give an unjust privilege to some over others.
    Yes, consistency is more important than tules. Let’s create rules, which can be easily implemented and executed and are accepted by players.
    But how can you execute rules of proper conduct over crowds? I will remember for a lifetime the Thiem-Delpo match at USO 2017, with huge and loud mass of Delpo crowd, chanting all the time, including Thiem’s serve preparation, then applauding loud and long his every mistake. And the umpire having only the possibility to say “Ladies and Gentlemen, please …”. What if there are no ladies and no gentlemen?
    If we allow tennis crowds to behave like on a soccer match, let allow players to kick the other or let him fall to the ground and then the umpire whistle for a free kick 😉 I would say – Go Milan!


    1. Fanaticism is inherent. And much of it is moronic. Just have to deal with that element.
      The tournament can monitor really out-of-control fans — a security guard went into a luxury box where fans were too loud — if fans get too unruly, they can be removed, etc.

      But the general internationalism is inherent. Juan Martin encourages his fans to yell, etc. He seems like a gentle giant, but he definitely likes his support. But that’s just the way it is.

      The Big 3 or 4 or 5 have their animated support. Been that way for a while.


  3. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Let me add some thoughts about the special case of Rafa, principally almost always doing time violation at serve. He is not doing this to distract the opponent. I have observed (you too for sure), how opponents react. Some are getting nervous, but most develop own routines of getting focused on return when playing Rafa. It’s a matter of respect. Rafa is respectful while he always does everything possible very fast – say, not walking but running after changeover.
    Thiem is another special case – he never complains about such things. And even if he is serving against Rafa, he always looks if Rafa is ready with his antics. Seeming to understand, Rafa does really need it and it’s not like Federer changing rackets, never in a hurry, when he needs to break the opponent. Which is obviously an intended distraction of the opponent and I have never seen umpires reacting. Maybe no rule exists for the case, but it should. And then how it comes, Federer regularly earning Sportsmanship Awards? That’s business. In terms of business (of course based on his excellency as a player) Federer is a King, so rather rules will be changed than existing executed against the King. To some extent the same with other Kings and Queens – Rafa’s time wasting on serve, Sharapova screaming like a hell on every shot, Djokovic bouncing gazillions times, Serena playing drama queen. It’s also about what want people paying a lot for tickets. They want great emotions (many miss even basic understanding of tennis). They want either another big win of their favorites or big upsets. Everything else is boring. And they don’t pay to be bored for 2-3 hours. They need entertaining show more than excellent tennis. It was not like that, when I was a very young fanboy watching matches live (still before TV has come).


  4. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Again about code violations and penalties. Here are rules failing. Third code violation and a game penalty (which may be just like giving the match the opponent), whatever code violations – they are not equal and comparable.
    Code violation for calling chair “thief” is OK, but how is it hurting the opponent? Some code violations are directly affecting the opponent and then such penalty is OK. But if the chair is offended, the penalty should be a fine and the offended umpire can still sue the offender in a civil court. Why should it give an advantage to the opponent?


    1. The language of the behavior code includes verbal degradation toward an opponent, an umpire, a sponsor, etc. The “assault” can be toward just about any party related to the match.

      To deter such behavior, the player in question is penalized in terms of the competition. So, yes, the opponent benefits. Basically, if you act out-of-line out there on the court, with the intent to verbally attack anyone, your game will suffer the consequences.

      The issue is the consistency of enforcing this rule. People have researched this and found that men are penalized more than women, suggesting that this violation is enforced more regularly.

      The chair could have handled this more effectively without this getting so out-of-control. Sure he was within his duties and jurisdiction, so to speak, but he could’ve communicated more effectively to curtail any of this talk of sexism, etc.

      1. Serena, whether you saw your coach or not, he was coaching. I have to penalize you for that — those are the rules (the language on this code is pretty broad, so the slightest attempt to coach, the slightest evidence of communication between coach and player is a violation).
      2. Racket smash — no confusion here, so a point is taken away.
      3. Maybe let her know that she has two and a third violation is a game penalty. Communicate with her on this, warn her of the situation she’s getting herself into. Would not be hard to do. Being a robot umpire that simply hands-down the penalties is troublesome — leads to this kind of confusion or reaction.


  5. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Agree especially on your points 1 and 3. Maybe this should be regulated too – a kind of code for umpires? Or maybe better let everyone to follow his temper, so long he/she remains withing limits of regulations? If not, we maybe don’t need human umpires but take Siri from Apple 😉
    BTW – did you hear last talk between Federer and the chair (I think, this was Dumusois)? It was about line call, which was not heard and not seen by the chair (this was chair’s position), while Roger thought, it’s impossible “Don’t tell me, you have not seen.” Well, this ended better than with Serena. Roger limited himself to asking the umpire to apologize for not having seen/heard 😉


    1. I did see that. Ha ha. It was funny. That’s the difference. Roger has a better sense of humor, I guess (ha ha) but he also didn’t explode in some kind of rage. If Serena had kept her cool, Ramos and Ramos-apologists would look much worse. But she lost it.


  6. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Yes, I have never seen Roger really angry in such situations. I recall another short incident during his Kyrgios match in Madrid (lost by Roger), where there were lots of bad line calls and then at change-over (it was for sure Cedric Mourier) Roger told loud but not directly to the umpire “We need an ape for this circus.”. Mourier reacted with unhappy smile and that’s was 🙂 Sense of humor can solve so many potential conflicts!


    1. Indeed. Maybe we associate humor with class, sophistication in some respects. Roger there showing some “class”? Serena not so much.

      Humor at least tempers the less acceptable rage. If you can’t control your rage/anger/etc, you’ll be fit for a lot more criticism, at least in most cultures, I believe.


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