Billie Jean King Weighs in on Serena Williams Saga

Published 09/10/2018, 12:38 PM EDT
Serena Williams gesticulates furiously at the umpire


Tennis legend Billie Jean King says there is a double standard in tennis when it comes to rules applied to women and men, after Serena Williams was penalized a game during her US Open final defeat against Naomi Osaka on Saturday night.

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Williams was penalized a game for calling the chair umpire a thief during an extended argument during the US Open women’s final as she clashed against chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Williams had an argument with chair umpire Ramos after he initially issued a warning for a code violation in the second game of the second set for receiving coaching, which is not allowed during Grand Slam matches.

King tweeted, When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it.” King wrote that if a male player had a similar outburst, he’d be called “outspoken” and have no repercussions.

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(1/2) Several things went very wrong during the @usopen Women’s Finals today. Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.

— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 9, 2018

(2/2) 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.

— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 9, 2018

Serena Williams was also fined $17,000 following her controversial U.S. Open loss to Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka Saturday — and sports professions and fans, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, were quick to point out the double standard on display in how Williams was treated.

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Billie Jean King in her heyday

Osaka’s win came as Williams was given a game penalty and multiple code violations by chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Williams was initially penalized for what Ramos deemed to be a coaching violation when her longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou made a motion from the player’s box. She was then subsequently penalized for smashing her tennis racket onto the court and for verbal abuse after arguing with Ramos, telling him, “You stole a point from me and you are a thief.”

“If he gives me a thumbs up, he’s telling me to come on,” Williams told Ramos after the coaching violation. “We don’t have any code, and I know that you don’t know that and I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose.”

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Serena Williams

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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