Did Serena Williams Fall Victim To Double Standards?

"You know how many other men do things that are much worse than that?"

The contentious US Open Grand Final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka is not the first time even this month the tennis world has been talking about double standards.

What happened is this: umpire Carlos Ramos gave Williams a warning for coaching, seemingly because her coach gave her a hand signal from the front row. Williams, insulted by the accusation of cheating, demanded an apology: "I don't cheat to win, I'd rather lose," she told Ramos.

She later received a second violation for smashing her racquet, prompting boos from the crowd.

READ MORE: Williams Tells Umpire: 'You're A Thief, You Owe Me An Apology'

At the changeover she again demanded an apology from Ramos for the earlier violation.

"You stole a point from me and you are a thief," she told him.

He issued a third violation and docked the game, leaving Osaka just one game away from victory.

"This is not fair," she said. "This has happened to me too many times. You know how many other men do things that are much worse than that?"

Tennis great and equal rights advocate Billie Jean King said the incident was "an abuse of power" and that Ramos had "crossed the line".

Writing for the Washington Post, she said:

"An umpire’s job is to keep control of the match, and he let it get out of control. The rules are what they are, but the umpire has discretion, and Ramos chose to give Williams very little latitude in a match where the stakes were highest."

CNN's sports analyst Christine Brennan said that it showed that women are still not treated equally in the tennis world

"We know that there's quite a history to it. Think of John McEnroe, think of Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi. These men all berated chair umpires, famously so. Commercials have been made. McEnroe has done, 'you can't be serious' and all the other tirades, top of his lungs over the years and none of them received a game penalty," she said.

READ MORE: 12 Things You Should Know About Naomi Osaka

"Would he (umpire) have done that with a man? History has said, no. He would not have done that with a man."

Williams is by no means the first player to take issue with an umpire's ruling, nor could anyone call her conduct completely above board.

But after all, as Jonathan Liew wrote in The Independent, "rules don't just appear, and they're never as objective as they look."

Here's a look at some of the more recent incidences in history which were not penalised.

No Penalty

2016 Italian Open

Novak Djokovic pushed away umpire Carlos Bernardes' arm while he inspected a close call on a clay court. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rule book said he could be facing a $10,000 fine if found guilty of "physical abuse", but no action was taken.

2016 French Open

Nick Kyrgios told Ramos that a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct was "fucking bullshit". He was not penalised further -- although he did call out double standards, given Djokovic's unpunished violation a week earlier.

2016 Cincinnati Masters

Andy Murray kicked a ball at the umpire, narrowly missing his head. There were no penalties.

2017 French Open

Djokovic got into a heated argument with Ramos after being docked a first serve for taking too long. "You're losing your mind," he told him at one point, after being given a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct later in the game. He was not penalised.

2018 Wimbledon

Djokovic engaged in a series of rows with Ramos during a match against Kei Nishikori. He accused the umpire of "double standards" for penalising him over bouncing a racquet when he claimed Nishikori did the same thing without consequences. There were no penalties for the row.


2012 Australian Open

Marcos Baghadis was fined $770 for not just smashing his playing racquet, but taking out three more racquets from his bag -- two still wrapped in plastic -- and smashing those as well.

2014 Wimbledon

Fabio Fognini was slapped with the highest fine in Wimbledon history -- £19,100 -- for a series of outbursts, including throwing his racquet and getting into an argument with the umpire.

2016 French Open

Djokovic was fined $5500 for throwing his racquet in anger., which then bounced at a lineman. If the linesman hadn't ducked, Djokovic would have been immediately disqualified.

2018 Fever-Tree Championships

Nick Kygios has copped a number of fines throughout his career, most recently a $23,500 fine for being caught simulating a sex act.


The tennis great was also known for having a great temper, and while there was plenty he got away with, there was also quite a bit he didn't. The largest violation was at the 1987 US Open, where he was fined $17,500 and issued a two month suspension for misconduct and verbal abuse.

It's not quite the infamous "you cannot be serious" moment at the 1981 Wimbledon, but then again, nothing is.