Serena Williams’ Controversial Fine for US Open Final Violations Brings About a Discussion on Sexism

The US Open final match between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka ended in a controversy after Williams was fined $17,000 for her three code violations.

This began when she had been given a warning after her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was caught giving her hand coaching signals while on-court. She visibly denied the accusation and was heard telling the umpire:

“I don’t cheat. I’d rather lose. Every time I play here, I have problems.”

Later in the match Umpire Carlos Ramos docked Williams a point for smashing her racket after missing a shot. Ramos then went on to issue Williams a full game penalty after she called him a ‘thief” and a “liar”. Williams said “There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right.”

She believed that if a man would have said these things they would not have even lost a point. Billie Jean King supported Williams, stating that she’s has sat courtside and watched men ranting at umpires and they have never been given a violation.

Billie Jean King posted this on twitter in support:

“When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” and there are no repercussions. Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

Although her actions did breach the grand slam code of conduct, the United State Tennis Association has agreed to review its code for future events.

In the post-match news conference, Williams accused Ramos of sexism and also made note of the incident of the code violation for Alizé Cornet for taking her shirt off, exposing her sports bra during a match. Williams took a stand and is fighting for women’s rights. The Womenès Tennis Association even showed their support saying “two amazing players, both of whom have great integrity” also saying “Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud”.

Many reports and studies have been done on sexism in sport they state that it leads to issues for girls and women in sport. There is a lack of women in leadership positions, in media positions, as well as a lack of corporate sponsorship for women’s sports. The literature proposes the concept of reducing stereotypes and discrimination, however they have also noted that we are all so focused on admiring the problem rather than finding and proposing a proper solution for it. (Scholarly article in the Journal of Sport Management.)

Although the sexism argument of Saturday’s match is considered to be “far fetched” Williams does have support from other team members and individuals within the tennis association and was clearly treated differently then male players have been in the past.

This trend of sexism has continued to reappear for women in sports and it forces women to feel diminished and defeated. We have become increasingly outspoken in regards to the barriers to equality, however there continues to be explicit cases of discrimination and harassment within women’s sport.

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