Carlos Ramos, the umpire at the heart of the astonishing controversy during the women's US Open final at Flushing Meadows on Saturday evening, returns to work today, as he sits in the high chair for the Davis Cup match between Croatia and the United States in Zadar.
Controversy and turmoil has been roiling ever since Ramos gave Serena Williams a violation for receiving coaching during last Saturday's final defeat to Naomi Osaka. Williams was outraged, and demanded an apology, telling Ramos that "I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose".
Ramos was unperturbed, and Williams' rage continued: she was soon given a point penalty for smashing and making bits of her racket. Williams continued to berate the umpire, saying
For you to attack my character is wrong. You owe me an apology. You will never be on a court with me as long as you live. You are the liar. You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry. How dare you insinuate that I was cheating? You stole a point from me. You’re a thief too.
It was at the point she called him a 'thief' that Ramos penalised Williams for verbal abuse, and docked her a game. Williams again reacted furiously, calling the tournament referee on to court to say "You know my character. This is not right. To lose a game for saying that, it’s not fair. How many other men do things? There’s a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things. It’s because I am a woman, and that’s not right".
Williams doubled down after the match, believing that Ramos' docking her a game for verbal abuse was tantamount to sexism.
While Williams was fined $17,000, she had some very vocal support from the governing body. The WTA issued a statement reading "Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud" while CEO Steve Simon said that "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. We do not believe that this was done last night".
As the controversy rumbled on, Ramos spoke out to say that "a la carte arbitration does not exist", amid rumblings that umpires would boycott future matches involving Serena.
To the backdrop of all of this, The Telegraph have published an analysis of fines from all Grand Slam events since 1998, in order to ascertain whether female payers are treated more harshly than their male counterparts.
In the eight categories - Racket abuse, Audible obscenity, unsportsmanlike conduct, coaching and coaches, ball abuse, verbal abuse, and visual obscenity - men were penalised more often in all but one.
The outlier, intriguingly, is coaching, the issue which ignited this sorry saga. Males, however, are penalised far more often for verbal abuse than female players.
The full breakdown is available here.