Umpires are reportedly considering boycotting Serena Williams‘ matches after she butted heads with chair umpire Carlos Ramos during the contentious U.S. Open women’s singles final last weekend.
Williams, who called Ramos “a thief” and suggested that his actions were motivated by sexism, lost to Naomi Osaka, 20, after being given three violations.
Umpires are debating whether to bow out of working at Williams’ matches unless she apologizes for criticizing Ramos, The Times of London reported.
An official told The Times that umpires felt “not supported” by the United States Tennis Association. According to the official, umpires thought Ramos was “thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it.”
The USTA declined PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The Times noted that, as a result of the treatment of Ramos, umpires are coming together in a profession that lacks significant organization.
The International Tennis Federation came to Ramos’ defense on Monday. In a statement, the ITF said, “Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr. Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offences.”
The statement continued, “It is understandable that this high-profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr. Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”
And according to USA Today, Ramos told Portugal’s Tribuna Expresso of the controversy, “I’m fine, given the circumstances. It’s a delicate situation, but ‘a la carte’ arbitration does not exist. Do not worry about me!”
Ramos reportedly told the outlet that he was “sure of his performance,” USA Today said. He will be the umpire at matches this week for the Davis Cup, according to USA Today.
After winning the men’s singles final at the U.S. Open on Sunday, Novak Djokovic told reporters, “I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final … He did change the course of the match. It was, in my opinion, maybe unnecessary. We all go through our emotions, especially when you’re fighting for a Grand Slam trophy.”
Ramos gave Williams, 36, a violation for illegal coaching from her player box during the first set. Williams told Ramos, “I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose.”
Williams’ second violation was for breaking her racket.
The athlete told Ramos during the match, “You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry… And you stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too!”
Ramos gave Williams her third violation for verbal abuse.
Williams was later fined $17,000 for the violations. The tournament referee’s office deducted from Williams’ $1.85 million prize money $10,000 for verbally abusing the umpire, $4,000 for receiving a warning about coaching, and $3,000 for breaking a racket, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
At a press conference ahead of the fines, Williams said that she was paving the way for future female tennis players.
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Williams commented, “I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. And for me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never took a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal [rights].”
She continued, “I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that want to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman, and they’re going to be allowed to do that because of today.”
Choking up, she said, “Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”
In an initial statement after the match, the U.S. Open sought to explain what went down on the court Saturday. “On the fifth point in the second game of the second set between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, the chair umpire witnessed coaching taking place from Williams’ coach. Even though her coach has admitted to coaching, Williams has made it clear that she did not receive any coaching. Nevertheless, in accordance with the rules, Williams was assessed a Code Violation, resulting in a warning.”
“At the completion of the fifth game of the second set, Williams was assessed a second code violation for racquet abuse, which required a point penalty,” the U.S. Open’s statement added. “At the changeover, at 4-3, Williams was assessed a third code violation for verbal abuse in the judgment of the umpire, which then required a game penalty. The chair umpire’s decision was final and not reviewable by the Tournament Referee or the Grand Slam Supervisor who were called to the court at that time.”