It’s been more than a week since women’s tennis star Serena Williams blew up on the U.S. Open’s finals tennis court to declare she was sexually discriminated against in her eliminating match against Naomi Osaka of Japan.
Many in the media and the tennis world rushed to Williams’ defense, including Billie Jean King, who said the umpire “crossed the line” and “made himself part of the match.”
But not everyone agrees.
Another Women’s Tennis Association star, Barbora Strycova, called Williams’ on-court meltdown “bulls—,” according to The Daily Telegraph.
Williams openly challenged chair umpire Carlos Ramos by calling him a “thief” and a “liar” when he penalized her by deducting a point from her game, resulting in a loss to Naomi Osaka.
She claimed sexism was the reason for the penalty, and the controversy has been swirling around the event ever since.
However, some women in the tennis world are pushing back at Williams‘ accusations and expressing their own feelings about her antics.
Strycova, ranked No. 25 in the world, said the flare-up was motivated not by Ramos’ sexism but by Williams’ desperation as she saw she was going to lose the match.
‘This is a bulls—, for umpires being women or men doesn’t matter,” the Czech star said, according to The Telegraph. “In comparison, I never saw (Rafael) Nadal shouting like that with an umpire.
“Ramos is tough, one of the best umpires in the world. He did what he had to do in that match, because she overstepped the limit.
“Did she have to behave differently only because she was Serena Williams? I find it interesting that she did it only when she was losing.”
The Telegraph also noted Strycova found it strange that the WTA Tour and U.S. Tennis Association would both release statements supporting Williams.
“Me, as a woman, take a lot of warnings,” she said. “The WTA defense surprised me. Will rules change in Serena’s matches? If it’s like this, let me know.”
Women’s tennis great Martina Navratilova also chastised Williams in an Op-Ed in The New York Times.
“We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with,” Navratilova said.
“In fact, this is the sort of behavior that no one should be engaging in on the court.”
While Navratilova agrees with Williams that women carry a larger burden on the court, she said Williams didn’t get it quite right in her delivery.
“Serena Williams has part of it right,” she said. “There is a huge double standard for women when it comes to how bad behavior is punished — and not just in tennis.
“But in her protests against an umpire during the United States Open final on Saturday, she also got part of it wrong. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of ‘If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.’ Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?”
Maybe women are held to a higher standard and maybe that’s why Williams is getting a bad rap from other tennis stars. And maybe that’s not fair. But what’s the harm in raising the bar? If we raised the bar in other areas of the real world, maybe there would be less idiocy and more common sense.
Regardless, if you gain more respect by taking the high road on issues, you have more influence in making the changes you want to make. Double standards would be a nice thing to eliminate in the world. Let’s hope Williams learns that lesson.
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