WTA & male players support Serena’s claims of mistreatment as another racist cartoon emerges
This past Saturday, the U.S. Open final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka concluded with Osaka’s win, marking it the first grand slam win for 20-year-old Haitian-Japanese player. However, the U.S. Open final ended with the umpire, Carlos Ramos, penalizing Serena Williams for calling him a “thief.” The incident re-ignited conversations on the intersection of anti-Black racism and sexism in sports, exacerbated by racist reactions from online media.
Williams was given a code violation for coaching, a one penalty point for breaking a racquet and finally a game penalty after calling Ramos a “thief” for these previous violations. The 36-year-old Wiliams was fined $17,000 for these code violations.
Some pointed out that many male tennis players have badgered umpires during changeovers but have not been penalized. While a couple of men and women tennis players have been penalized for racquet violations at this year’s US Open, only Serena Williams was penalized for verbal abuse.
In a statement, Women’s Tennis Association chief executive Steve 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. We do not believe that this was done last night.”
BBC tennis presenter Sue Barker, agreed, stating, “I’ve sat courtside watching the men ranting at umpires and they haven’t been given a violation.”
Male tennis players confirmed online that they have done worse than Williams on the court, but have not received penalties or code violations for “verbal abuse.”
I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized. And I’ve also been given a “soft warning” by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy. Sad to mar a well played final that way. https://t.co/xhBzFZX8Wq
— James Blake (@JRBlake) September 9, 2018
I’ve regrettably said worse and I’ve never gotten a game penalty
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 9, 2018
As Williams and Osaka were given their trophies, a moved Williams was seen comforting an emotional Osaka. When the crowd jeered and booed, Williams shared the message, “She played well and this is her first Grand Slam. AND I know you guys were rooting and I was too, but let’s make this the best we can. We’ll get through it. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit is due… Congratulations Naomi.”
After being asked how it felt to play and defeat Serena Williams, Naomia Osaka said, “I’m going to sort of defer from your question. I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this. I just want to say ‘thank you for watching the match.'”
A day later, an Australian tabloid, Herald Sun, published a racist cartoon of both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. The cartoonist, Mark Knight, has come under fire for depicting Williams as a huge baby with large lips, stomping on a racquet. The racist illustration drew comparisons to U.S. Jim Crow era images where Black people were depicted as angry, large and animalistic. He also depicted Naomi Osaka as a thin, whitewashed woman with blonde hair to elucidate her “calmness.”
The racist cartoon further illuminates the anti-Black and sexist public treatment of Serena Williams. Many have condemned it online.
Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop. https://t.co/YOxVMuTXEC
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 10, 2018
The mistreatment towards Serena Williams can be interpreted as a continuation of an earlier incident this year where reports confirmed she was the most drug tested tennis player in the top league.