Billie Jean King has caused a stir with her latest comments about Serena Williams’ US Open meltdown.
The former World No.1 has softened her initial stance on the controversy, saying Serena was “totally out of line” when she vehemently disputed calls by chair umpire Carlos Ramos during Sunday’s final.
IS THIS RACIST? Why America is so furious with Serena Williams cartoon
Williams was issued a warning, point and then game penalty after she argued with Ramos during the final, which was won 6-2 6-4 by Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
“Serena was out of line. There’s no question,” King told CNN on Tuesday. “No one is saying she was a good sport. If they are they are crazy.
“She was totally out of line. She knows it.”
King’s remarks to CNN were something of a retraction on her earlier comments when she said in a Washington Post editorial that Williams had faced down sexism with her protests.
However her latest comments about Ramos have now been slammed.
On Tuesday, King said Ramos could have prevented the affair had he communicated better and given Williams a ‘soft warning’ instead of a code violation when he saw her coach Patrick Mouratoglou giving signals during the match.
The loss of the point prompted Williams to call Ramos a “thief”, which led to a third violation for verbal abuse that resulted in the umpire issuing a game penalty, although he could have prevented the incident from escalating, King said.
“I felt like at the very beginning he blew it,” King said.
“As an umpire you’re supposed to keep the flow of the match going and he did just the opposite.
“…he (aggravated) the situation. ‘I’m not attacking your character,’ is the most important thing he could have said.
“I think everything would have been different.”
Many were shocked by King’s comments that seemed to suggest Ramos should have ignored the basic rules that he was simply trying to enforce.
Much respect for Billie Jean King but she is wrong again in her latest "he blew it" quotes on Carlos Ramos. She says an umpire is "supposed to keep the flow of the match going". To hell with the rules, apparently… https://t.co/rRal87Ixh6
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) September 11, 2018
The lady manipulates the issue. She claims if men break the rules also women can do so without any consequences. Rather than calling that any athlete regardless of sex has to assume responsibility for his/her own action
— Galya (@galya787) September 11, 2018
Billie Jean is correct the Serena was out of line, but incorrect that the umpire blew it.
— Darien Ephram, DDS (@DarienEphram) September 11, 2018
@BillieJeanKing I watched the citation for coaching many times. Ramos did not attack Serena's character. She overreacted by taking the coaching violation personally. I understand why she ay have took it that way, but, how can Ramos be responsible for it?
— Younus Parvez (@younusconnects) September 11, 2018
I agree with BJK that Serena was out of line but not that the umpire, Carlos Ramos, “blew it”. This is assigning false equality of blame. Carlos was just applying the rules that Serena flouted. Change the rules if you want but don’t blame the umpire. Serena was wrong. Period.
— Anil Bhalla (@anilbhalla88) September 11, 2018
so rules don't apply for star players??
— Jack Huchins (@jhuchinsj) September 11, 2018
The Times reporter Stuart Fraser also refuted King’s claim that Ramos heightened the situation, pointing out how he actually tried to defuse things before Serena told him not to talk to her – which he respected.
Katrina Adams: "It's a situation for him [Ramos] to say we're getting out of hand, let's tone it down or we're going to have to…"
WATCH THE FOOTAGE. Ramos calmly tries to talk with Williams, who, after demanding an apology, says "Don't talk to me." She then calls him a "thief" https://t.co/csSCBnXgPM
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) September 10, 2018
Umpires are trained that when a player says “don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me” then the umpire will not talk to the player. To do so simply escalates the incident.
Ms Adams should attend a USTA umpires training day.
— Richard Ings (@ringsau) September 10, 2018
Ramos speaks out about Serena controversy
The man himself has also broken his silence on his controversial run-in with Serena.
The experienced Portuguese official has found himself at the centre of a storm after his officiating of the US Open final, which saw Serena accuse him of sexism after she was docked a game for receiving three code violations.
“I’m fine, given the circumstances,” he said.
“It’s a delicate situation, but a la carte arbitration does not exist. Do not worry about me!”
Ramos was supported – albeit belatedly – by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who said he acted with “professionalism and integrity”, however the United States Tennis Association and Women’s Tennis Association earlier backed Williams’ claims that she received unfair treatment.
But the ITF have further shown their support by putting Ramos in charge of the Davis Cup semi-final between USA and Croatia this weekend in Zadar.