“There Is a Feeling of Fairness”: Serena Williams’ Coach Backs the Use of Hawk-Eye on Clay

Published 10/03/2020, 9:06 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – October 3, 2020 A general view of Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in action during his third round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut REUTERS/Charles Platiau


After the off-court controversies took a backseat at French Open 2020, there are a few elements related to the sport itself that is now under the scanner. One of those aspects is the use of ‘Hawk-Eye’ technology at the French Open. Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou joined a chorus of players to speak on the issue.

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Top male players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem also stressed that it is high time the clay-court Grand Slam implements video use and Hawk-Eye. The French Open is the only Grand Slam that does not use Hawk-Eye.

Mouratoglou explained the importance of allowing players to use Hawk-Eye. While the technology is available and is used for TV replays, it is not available for players to use. “If you put yourself in the shoes of the players, they want the situation to be fair to them,” Mouratoglou said on the matter.

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How the debate started at French Open 2020

It all started with two major incidents involving Kristina Mladenovic and Denis Shapovalov respectively. On set point, Mladenovic was denied the point despite the ball bouncing twice on the opponent’s side of the court.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – September 29, 2020 France’s Kristina Mladenovic in action during her first round match against Germany’s Laura Siegemund REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

I completely understand that she praises the video. She says we need the video and It’s completely normal,” Mouratoglou said. Shapovalov was also denied by a wrong call at a crucial stage in the fifth set of his match.

Mouratoglu then echoed the thoughts of the players. He said the Hawk-Eye should be there on clay as well. “If the goal is to create a situation of complete fairness to the players, of course, we have to use all the technologies that we have to create that fairness. So, should we use the video? Yes,” the Frenchman, who is Serena Williams’ coach since 2012, continued.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 20, 2020 Canada’s Denis Shapovalov talks to the chair umpire during his semi final match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman Pool via REUTERS//Clive Brunskill

The ideal solution, as per Serena Williams’ coach

He then made an interesting point. The renowned coach said that we usually see many disagreements between players and chair umpires over whether a particular ball mark has touched the line or not. With the involvement of Hawk-Eye, its accuracy will not matter as the player will eventually accept it.

With the Hawk-Eye, whether it’s accurate, extremely accurate, or not at all accurate, there is no discussion. Because the players consider the Hawk-eye is right. So there is no discussion and there is a feeling of fairness,” he opined.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – October 2, 2020 Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka speaks with a match official during his third round match against France’s Hugo Gaston REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Another side of the coin

He then presented a flip-side to the argument. Giving an example of John McEnroe and the 1980s era, Mouratoglu said the drama created by such incidents brought a lot of fans to tennis. At the same time, he believes it is important to live in the current era and use technology.

“I think it was part of the fun, but we can also discuss the fact that we are in 2020 and we have a lot of technology with us. We probably should use it,” he continued.

There are two different voices. It will also depend in which camp you are. The camp of the players or the camp of those who want to create more interest and excitement around tennis in general,” the 50-year-old said.

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This is not the first time the topic of Hawk-Eye on clay has come up. However, the impact created by its unavailability this time has caused a bigger stir.

 

 

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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