Tennis umpires are fighting back against accusations of sexism after Serena Williams’ meltdown at the U.S. Open last weekend.
Chair umpires are considering a coordinated effort to boycott any game that Serena Williams plays in the future to protest her treatment of the line judge during her loss on Saturday to Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open, according to USA Today.
The judges are also mulling the idea of starting a union that would give them more power to act against slights such as that committed by Williams.
It is bad enough that a star of Williams stature exploded in such a politically charged rant at the judge, but what hurt the judges even more is that both the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) came to Williams’ support on her charges against the judge. Even the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which stood by the judges, waited 48 hours before announcing a position. In all, the judges feel betrayed.
Currently, tennis judges are independent contractors and current contracts prevent them from speaking publicly about players and matches. And the judge at the heart of the controversy, chair umpire Carlos Ramos, has said only that he is “fine” and is in a “delicate position.”
But a retired judge has spoken more to the situation. Gold badge umpire Richard Ings told ESPN that the umpire fraternity is “thoroughly disturbed” by how they have been treated in this situation.
“The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,” Ings told ESPN. “They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls.”
Still, despite the threats, Ings did not think that the judges would rise up and boycott Williams’ future matches. Ings insisted that the “Umpires are just upset. They’re thinking, ‘What if?'”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.