This year’s U.S. Open had a surprising result. Veteran Serena Williams fell to newcomer Naomi Osaka. Not only was this an unexpected outcome, but there was controversy as well. The drama of Williams losing a final and especially to a young player would have been enough to thrill any crowd. But on top of this there was a dispute between Serena and the referee. The star player ended up calling him a “thief” because he made a call that cost Williams a crucial point.
There is a long standing rule in tennis that states that coaches are not allowed to do any coaching during a match. The chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, saw Serena William’s coach making hand gestures during the final. Ramos interpreted the hand gestures as coaching and gave Williams a code violation.
At a later point in the game, Williams was frustrated during the match and threw her racket. This resulted in another code violation. This second violation meant that Williams received a point penalty.
Williams, frustrated at losing a point and being accused of cheating, starting yelling at the chair umpire. After a heated back and forth, Williams received a third code violation, meaning she had to forfeit a game to Osaka.
So whether you believe Williams and her coach were cheating or not, the accusation clearly had a large affect on the match.
Was Williams Really Cheating?
This is where it gets a little confusing. Williams said vehemently after the game there are no signals between her and her coach, Mouratoglou. But he on the other hand, admitted to giving Williams signals. According to Mouratoglou, many coaches use signals to coach their players during matches. He did say however, that he thought Williams was not looking at his gestures.
In any case, it is a bit strange that Williams and her coach were sited for this violation. It is very uncommon for an umpire to enforce this rule. And in so important a match, it seems almost like targeting. On the other hand, if the umpire did believe that Williams and her coach were cheating, it was his duty to call the violation.
Was Ramos Too Harsh?
Perhaps Williams and her coach were signaling each other. And perhaps this is common throughout the tennis world. So why was Ramos so harsh? He could have given Williams a warning.
Many in the sport think that coaching during matches should be allowed anyway. So to stick so closely to a rule that is a bit outdated is a little over the top. In any case, it should be noted that Osaka played and great game and should be given credit for an impressive win over the legendary Serena Williams.