Billie Jean King Says Serena Williams Penalized at U.S. Open Due to "Double Standard"
"When a woman is emotional, she’s 'hysterical' and she’s penalized for it," King said of Williams' outburst at a Grand Slam match that lost her the game.
Billie Jean King, once the top-ranked American female tennis player in the world, weighed in on the eventful U.S. Open match Saturday that led to Serena Williams calling the chair umpire a "thief."
"Several things went very wrong during the @usopen Women’s Finals today," King wrote on Twitter later that day. "Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen."
King, the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation, continued, "When a woman is emotional, she’s 'hysterical' and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s 'outspoken' & and there are no repercussions. Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same."
During Williams' Saturday Grand Slam match against Naomi Osaka, which took place at the tennis center named after King herself, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the tennis player demanded that chair umpire Carlos Ramos apologize after he issued her a warning for a code violation for receiving coaching. Coaching is not allowed in the event's Grand Slam matches. Williams countered that she would never cheat.
At another point in the game, a frustrated Williams threw her racket on the court and destroyed it, which prompted Ramos to give her a second code violation and take away one point. "You stole a point from me. You're a thief, too," Williams told him. The outburst prompted Ramos to give her a third code violation, which lost the game and ended the match 5-3 for Osaka.
When Ramos attempted to explain his ruling, Williams told him: "There's a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things and because they are men that doesn't happen."
Williams has had outbursts toward officials on the court before, including during a 2009 semifinals match against Kim Clijsters and a 2011 final against Sam Stosur.
King last came to Williams' defense in late August, when the French Open banned Williams' "catsuit," which she wears to promote blood circulation and prevent blood clots, from which she has suffered before. "The policing of women’s bodies must end. The “respect” that’s needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies," King tweeted.
King famously won the "Battle of the Sexes" match against Bobby Riggs in 1973, the basis for the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell.