Tennis star Roger Federer has weighed in on the fiery exchange that overtook the US Open grand final match between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, which saw Williams launch a blistering verbal attack on umpire Carlos Ramos.
Ramos was accused of sexism after he docked a point and handed out code violations to the tennis star throughout her match. It eventually led to her branding him a “thief” and throwing her racquet down on the ground in anger in front of the crowd.
Now, speaking with television station KVUE, current world number two Federer has defended the umpire and claimed each umpire has their own way of operating and method to handing out violations.
“In tennis you might have an umpire that gives more coaching violations and another guy goes more to time violation…You might get one guy who knows that ‘this guy misbehaves often so I’ll give him a warning quicker or I’ll be more lenient with a guy because he’s a nice guy and just can’t control himself’. I think it really depends on the situation,” he explained.
However, speaking about the Williams and Ramos dispute in particular, Federer said he hoped it wasn’t a case of discrimination, admitting mistakes were made.
“I hope it’s not the case, but I think what happened, obviously, there was mistakes along the way and there should be more discretion sometimes,” he added.
Following the uproar that captured the attention of tennis fans across the world, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) reportedly announced that Williams will be fined $US17,000 (AU$23,920) for the code violation, which included US$10,000 for “verbal abuse”, US$4,000 for being warned for coaching and US$3000 for smashing her racket, the Sydney Morning Herald reported previously.
Australian cartoonist Mark Knight later took the controversy to the next level, dividing the world with his image of the talented player published in the Herald Sun.
The cartoon, which has been labelled as racist and shameful, mocks the heated exchange between Williams and the umpire, showing the American as a massive, overly exaggerated caricature throwing a child-like tantrum. The garish cartoon is reminiscent of the way African Americans were commonly depicted during the Jim Crow era, when they were often mocked for their features and physiques.
In the background of the cartoon sits Ramos in his umpire’s chair, alongside opponent and eventual champion Naomi Osaka, who is depicted as a white, blonde woman despite being of Japanese/American heritage and having dark, curly hair.
Knight shared the cartoon to his Twitter page and was quickly flooded with a barrage of criticism with only a minority supporting his attempt at humour.
“Who exactly are these two characters? Neither resembles the two talented and powerful women that played a very tough, competitive match. They have worked almost their entire lives to reach this level. How dare you publish such blatant disrespectful garbage,” one person commented.