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‘Awful Treatment’- Coco Gauff Controversy Sees Tennis Fans Slam Chair Umpire for His Conduct

Published 02/21/2024, 10:19 AM EST

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via Reuters

Remember when Coco Gauff played Laura Siegemund at the 2023 US Open? On multiple occasions, when the American stepped up to serve, Siegemund wasn’t ready. After letting it slide a few times, Gauff decided enough was enough. She yelled at the umpire, “I don’t care what she’s doing on her serve, but on my serve she has to be ready. She’s never ready.” Although Gauff had a point, many criticized her for how she handled the situation. Now, after another altercation with a chair umpire at the Dubai Tennis Championships, the tennis community is on her side.

It happened during Coco Gauff’s round of 16 match against Karolina Pliskova. After losing the first set, the 19-year-old was serving at 4-2 in the second. She made a first serve, but chair umpire Pierre Bacchi called it out almost a second after Pliskova hit the ball out. Hawkeye confirmed it was in. It should’ve been Gauff’s point, considering the call couldn’t have affected Pliskova’s return. However, the umpire didn’t think so.

Forcing her to replay the point, Gauff was having none of it. Understandably furious, she asked Bacchi to call the supervisor. But he rejected the request. That didn’t sit well with the American or the tennis community. It led to almost a five-minute argument, with Gauff even saying, “It’s not a feeling, it’s a fact. Everybody knows you called it after [Pliskova hit the ball].” Even though things didn’t go her way then, she didn’t let it deter her.

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Sealing the set 6-4 and the third set 6-3, she made her way into the quarterfinals. During her on-court interview, Gauff seemed to have put the incident in the past. “I think it just fueled me. I wanna watch back the video. I feel confident that it was after. It’s ok. It’s just one point. It happens in tennis. Players make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. It kind of went upward from there for me,” she said.

The tennis circuit will feature automated line calling permanently from 2025. But till then, with the usual rules in place, tournaments like the Dubai Tennis Championships will have human line judges and the traditional hawkeye method. In this situation, while it’s true that the judgment call lies with the umpire, it’s also true that Gauff had the right to talk to the supervisor. So, when The Tennis Letter posted the entire exchange on X, fans made their case in support of the World No.3.

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Coco Gauff’s case was an “abuse of authority” by the chair umpire

It’s not uncommon to see coaches and former players come out in support of players when situations like these arise. Watching the whole argument unfold, Serena Williams’ former coach, Rennae Stubbs, couldn’t sit back and say nothing. She explained how the umpire was in the wrong while also laying out what would’ve been the situation had the supervisor come out.

She didn’t stop there, though. Stubbs continued, “Oh, and may I add, he was also WRONG! @CocoGauff very rarely loses it like this unless she feels wronged, exhibit A.” A fan brought up the same thing, calling it an “abuse of authority.”

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When it comes to the chair umpire in question – Pierre Bacchi – this isn’t the first time he’s been involved in a controversy. During the 2021 French Open semi-final between Barbora Krejčíková and Maria Sakkari, the Greek player hit the ball long when Krejčíková had match point. She believed it was out, and the linesperson thought so, too. Even TV replays confirmed it. However, Bacchi disagreed and reversed the call. Although Krejčíková subsequently won, Bacchi’s call introduced a controversy.

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Considering this and similar cases, a fan wrote, “What a doughnut of a referee. Gosh. So pigheaded and insecure he couldn’t call the supervisor. Let me see this nonsense happen on the ATP side. Absolutely disgusting @WTA get better refs!!!” Another fan echoed this sentiment, calling the umpire out for his bad call.

They wrote, “That umpire is a tyrant and shouldn’t be able to call any more tennis matches. The way he handled that situation was pathetic. Coco was in the right.” Agreeing with them, a user appreciated Gauff’s composure throughout the exchange. They also mentioned that he kept interrupting the player when she was making her case. “Right. @CocoGauff was so clear and calm. He just kept cutting her off. Didn’t want to listen. awful treatment.”

While a user pointed out that Coco Gauff asked for the supervisor 35 times throughout the argument, another fan showed their support by making light of the situation with a dig at the umpire. “Why is he not calling the supervisor? Guess who is getting a demotion from the establishment after this match 🤣,” they wrote.

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The reactions express that Gauff’s decision to call for a supervisor was justified. However, despite her logic being perfect, she was rejected. Nonetheless, the tennis community stood by the 19-year-old and showed their disapproval of the umpire. What is your take on Coco Gauff’s case?

Coco Gauff Saves 2 Match Points and Earns a Second-Round Ticket at WTA Dubai 2021

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Written by:

Upasana Banerjee

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Upasana Banerjee is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports. Specializing in major trends within the tennis world, Upasana's keen eye captures newsworthy moments in the world of sports. Her adept information mining makes her a go-to source for insights into players' lives.
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Edited by:

Shudh Mukherjee