WATCH—Roger Federer is focused on Laver Cup:
Roger Federer, appearing at a charity event for Andy Roddick’s Foundation, issued careful comments on the controversy surrounding the penalties given to Serena Williams in the US Open final.
Federer was asked about the incident, which saw the umpire give Williams a verbal abuse violation following a lengthy complaint that finished with her calling him a “thief.” Since it was her third violation, Williams received a game penalty in accordance with the rules. Williams said it was sexism because a man would not have received a violation for similar language.
“It’s interesting,” said Federer, speaking to TV station KVUE. “I think it’s important to look at it. Every umpire has their own style.
“In tennis you might have an umpire that gives more coaching violations and another guy goes more to time violation.
“You might get one guy who knows that this guy misbehaves quite often so I’ll give him a warning quicker, or I’ll be more lenient with a guy because he’s a nice guy, just can’t control himself.”
Following the #usopen2018 (i.e. Serena Williams and Alize Cornet), I asked both #Federer and #Roddick if they think there is gender bias in the sport of tennis.
This is what both had to say: pic.twitter.com/IgrJggCO1t
— Stacy Slayden (@StacyS_KVUE) September 18, 2018
Williams’s first violation was for receiving coaching from the stands, for which she got a warning. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, acknowledged he had been coaching, saying other coaches also do it frequently and he has not previously received a warning. The second violation was for smashing a racquet, for which Williams received a point penalty.
During the tournament, there was also controversy when Alize Cornet took off her top to wear it the right way around, receiving a warning while the men frequently change shirts on court with no penalty.
Federer was also questioned about whether sexism was involved.
“I hope it’s not the case, obviously,” he said. “I think what happened, especially in the final but also with Cornet, obviously there was mistakes along the way and there should be more discretion—sometimes. At the same time, they [the umpires] have to do their job, that’s what we want them also to do.
“It’s been tricky, but a really interesting case to study.”
Andy Roddick, who severely criticized the umpire initially but then toned down his comments, noted that “tennis is leading the way” in equality for men and women in sports.
The controversy has attracted a variety of comments, with several players also being asked about it. Novak Djokovic said the umpire did not have to “push her to the limit” in a Grand Slam final, but that he did not agree there was sexism. Some of the toughest criticism of Williams was from a fellow WTA player, Barbora Strycova, who said Williams behaved that way as she was not winning, and defended umpire Carlos Ramos.
“For umpires being women or men doesn’t matter. In comparison, I never saw Nadal shouting like that with an umpire,” she told Czech sports. “Ramos is tough, one of the best umpires in the world.”
The USTA and WTA issued statements backing Williams, while the ITF said Ramos correctly followed the rules.