Bad call or bad behaviour? Victoria experts weigh in on Serena Williams

Bad call or bad behaviour? Victoria experts weigh in on Serena Williams

WATCH: The U.S. Open tennis final took an ugly turn after Serena Williams was given three penalties. Was it a sexist double standard? As Tess van Straaten tells us, it depends on who you ask.



The controversial confrontation between Serena Williams and an umpire at the U.S. Open is making headlines around the world.

“You owe me an apology!” Williams yelled at umpire Carlos Ramos during Saturday’s final.  “You owe me an apology, I have never cheated in my life!”

Williams is calling foul on what she says is a double standard in sport.

“There’s a lot of men out here who have said a lot worse and because they are men it doesn’t happen to them,” an emotional Williams says. “For him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man cause he’s said thief so for me, it blows my mind.”

In a stunning upset, the tennis star lost the U.S. Open final to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka after being hit with three penalties.

First, for getting a signal from her coach, which isn’t allowed, to move closer to the net. Then, another violation when she smashed her racket and finally, a game penalty for repeatedly yelling at the umpire.

Trail-blazing tennis legend Billie Jean King quickly tweeted her support and wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that Williams was “penalized for standing up for herself”. But was she?

“Any player who had two violations and was abusing an umpire would have a real chance of having happen to them what happened to Serena,” explains tennis analyst and Pacific Centre for Sport Excellence (PISE) CEO Robert Bettauer. “That wasn’t obvious sexism in my opinion. It was a player very emotional who let things get out of control and couldn’t reign herself in.”

But many elite female athletes see it differently.

“The response of the umpire to Serena is completely different than what we’d see with any man,” says former Olympic rower Jennifer Walinga, who is now a communications professor at Royal Roads University.

Sexism is something the gold medalist had to deal with as an elite athlete in the 90s and she’s glad Williams is speaking out.

“I think it speaks to women and women’s rights,” Walinga says. “Obviously she’s standing up for this issue of a double standard in sport.”

But whether it was a bad call or bad behaviour, one thing is clear — there was no ‘love’ in this memorable match.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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