Embattled US Open final umpire ‘good,’ despite controversy

Reuters

Thu, Sep 13, 2018 - Page 16

Umpire Carlos Ramos has made his first public statement since the US Open, saying that he was “good,” despite the firestorm of controversy that followed his officiating of last weekend’s women’s singles final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.

The 47-year-old Portuguese on Saturday last week handed out three code violations to runner-up Williams, prompting a heated on-court argument with the 23-time Grand Slam champion and sparking a debate about sexism in tennis.

“I am good, under the circumstances,” Ramos was quoted as saying by Portugal’s Tribuna Expresso. “It’s an unhappy situation, but a la carte refereeing doesn’t exist... Don’t you worry about me.”

Ramos, who told the newspaper that he had avoided walking the streets of New York City on Sunday to avoid any “complicated situations,” confirmed that he would be back in the chair tomorrow in Zadar, Croatia.

The International Tennis Federation, which on Monday issued a statement describing Ramos as one of the most respected umpires in tennis, has appointed him to officiate a Davis Cup semi-final between Croatia and the US.

The United States Tennis Association and the WTA publicly backed allegations of sexism leveled at Ramos after Saturday’s match.

Williams was fined US$17,000 and docked a point and a game for three code violations during the match, including breaking a racket and verbally abusing the umpire.

Billie Jean King, the former world No. 1 who founded the WTA in the 1970s, on Tuesday said all sides shared blame for the incident, adding that Williams was “out of line,” but that Ramos could have prevented the controversy with more leniency and clearer communication.

Ramos was unable to defend himself in public in New York as the row escalated over the weekend, as federation rules prevent umpires from commenting on their matches.

The incident sparked another social media storm on Monday, when a cartoon was published in an Australian newspaper depicting Williams with exaggerated features, which civil rights activist Jesse Jackson among others described as “racist.”

The Herald Sun, owned by News Corp, yesterday defied allegations of racism when it reprinted the cartoon on its front page, attempting to portray the controversy as a matter of freedom of speech.