Controversial U.S. Open prompts promises of improvement
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[September 11, 2018]
By Simon Jennings
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Issues of sexism,
officiating double standards and adverse playing conditions have
dominated the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Open, raising
uncomfortable questions and prompting authorities to promise a
review of existing policies.
Chair umpires took center stage at Flushing Meadows this year, more
than at any other tournament in recent memory, and culminated with
Serena Williams being reduced to tears at her treatment in the
Her conduct, which earned her a game penalty during Saturday's
defeat by Naomi Osaka, and her comments that a male player would not
have been penalized in the same way, have split the tennis world.
While Williams was fined a total of $17,000 by the tournament
referees' office for the three code violations she received from
Portuguese umpire Carlos Ramos, the United States Tennis Association
(USTA) also said it would review its policies in the wake of various
Swedish umpire Mohamed Lahyani was reprimanded by the USTA for going
"beyond protocol" when he climbed down from his chair to give Nick
Kyrgios a pep talk during his second-round match against
Umpire Christian Rask was also criticized after he gave Frenchwoman
Alize Cornet a code violation for removing her shirt on court after
she realized she had put it on back-to-front in the locker room
during a mid-match heat break.
All that pales in comparison to the furor surrounding Williams, who
was given a game penalty for accusing chair umpire Carlos Ramos of
being a "liar" and "a thief for stealing a point" from her in the
Several prominent figures in the sport have backed Williams for
exposing the double standards within tennis while others have
criticized her for lacking sportsmanship.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has also weighed in, offering
its backing to Williams, with chief executive Steve Simon saying
different standards of tolerance exist for men and women.
[to top of second column]
Serena Williams of the USA argues tournament official Brian Earley
while playing Naomi Osaka of Japan in the women’s final on day
thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean
King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA
"Yesterday brought to the forefront the question of whether
different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating
of matches," Simon said on Sunday.
"The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the
standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men v
women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all
players are treated the same.
"We do not believe that this was done."
The beginning of the tournament saw organizers struggle to contend
with a heat-wave in New York that resulted in the implementation of
a heat policy -- the first time ever it was applied in men's
As players sweated it out in the humidity and searing temperatures,
some of the game's top names spoke out against the conditions, with
questions raised about amount of air circulation present in Arthur
The tournament's main showcourt was given a new roof two years ago,
but the lack of ventilation within the arena when the roof is open
drew plenty of criticism, not least from the likes of Rafael Nadal,
Roger Federer and men's champion Novak Djokovic.
"The way that the system is built... we really can't operate our
(air management) system unless the roof is closed," a USTA spokesman
told Reuters, adding that organizers would discuss ways to improve
playing conditions next year.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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