Serena Williams’ exceptional talent and willingness to challenge the international tennis world’s racism and sexism have made her an icon well beyond the court. Her efforts over the weekend are now being cosigned by the heads of the sport’s most prominent professional associations.
The BBC reported today (September 10) that Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief Steve Simon and U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) president Katrina Adams each backed up Williams’ accusations of sexist treatment during the U.S. Open women’s singles final match on Saturday (September 8). The Guardian recounts that Williams received a warning for an alleged coaching violation, a penalty point for smashing her racket and a game penalty for calling umpire Carlos Ramos a thief. It’s punishment that she said—both on-court and in a post-match press conference—would not have been imposed on a male player. The penalties also come with a $17,000 fine. Williams ultimately lost the match to Haitian-Japanese player Naomi Osaka and has faced racist backlash for her actions.
“The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same,” Simon’s statement reads. “We do not believe that this was done last night.”
— WTA (@WTA) September 10, 2018
“We watch the guys do this all the time, they’re badgering the umpire on the changeovers [and] nothing happens,” Adams, whose association operates the U.S. Open, explained in a post-game appearance on ESPN. “There’s no equality when it comes to what the men are doing to the chair umpires and what the women are doing, and I think there has to be some consistency, across the board, in officiating.”