Novak Djokovic thinks chair umpire pushed Serena Williams too far, doesn't think it was sexist

Count U.S. Open men’s champion Novak Djokovic among those who believe chair umpire Carlos Ramos went too far in issuing three rules violations against Serena Williams in the women’s final.

However, the world’s third-ranked men’s player does not necessarily agree with the assessments of Williams and WTA chief executive Steve Simon that umpires treat women players differently from men.

“I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final,” Djokovic said in the aftermath of his U.S. Open victory against Juan Martin del Potro. “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.”

For what was Serena Williams penalized?

With Williams trailing Naomi Osaka 1-0 in the second set of Sunday’s eventual 6-2, 6-4 loss, Ramos issued the six-time U.S. Open champion a warning for allegedly receiving signals from her coach. Later in the same set, Ramos cited her for breaking her racket in frustration, and when she called him a “thief” for the resulting penalty that cost her a point, he issued a third violation that cost her a game.

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Serena Williams argues with chair umpire at US Open finals
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Serena Williams argues with chair umpire at US Open finals
Sep 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the United States yells at chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the women's final against Naomi Osaka of Japan on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sept 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the USA argues with tournament referee Brian Earley while playing Naomi Osaka of Japan in the women?s final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; (L-R) Naomi Osaka of Japan, Serena Williams of the United States, and chair umpire Carlos Ramos talk after Ramos charges Williams with a game penalty in the second set in the women's final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS
Sep 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; (L-R) Naomi Osaka of Japan, chair umpire Carlos Ramos, and Serena Williams of the United States during the women's final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS
Sept 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the USA argues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos (not pictured) while playing Naomi Osaka of Japan in the women?s final on day thirteen of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
2018 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Thirteen. Serena Williams of the United States argues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos during her match against Naomi Osaka of Japan in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
2018 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Thirteen. Serena Williams of the United States argues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos after receiving a one game penalty during her match against Naomi Osaka of Japan in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
2018 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Thirteen. Serena Williams of the United States argues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos after receiving a one game penalty during her match against Naomi Osaka of Japan in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
USTA BILLIE JEAN KING NATIONAL T, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2018/09/08: Serena Williams of USA reacts after receiving code violation during women's single final of US Open against Naomi Osaka of Japan at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Williams, WTA cite sexism in officiating hypocrisy

Afterwards, Williams suggested that Ramos and other umpires are more tolerant of worse criticism from male players. “It made me feel like it was a sexist remark,” she told reporters on Saturday. “He never took a game from a man because he said ‘thief.’ For me, it blows my mind, but I’m going to continue to fight for women. … The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and wants to express themselves and wants to be strong woman.”

As the International Tennis Federation and Ramos’ fellow umpires leapt to his defense, citing the $17,000 in fines that U.S. Open officials levied against Williams as proof of his competency, Simon joined tennis icon Billie Jean King in applauding Williams for bringing officiating hypocrisy to light.

“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,” his statement said. “We do not believe that this was done last night.”

Djokovic believes umpires treat men and women equally

Djokovic did not necessarily agree with Simon’s assessment of Saturday night’s controversy.

“I don’t understand from where he’s coming with that statement,” said Djokovic, suggesting this was the first he has heard of umpires failing to treat men and women equally. The Serbian added, “I don’t think it’s [the] time and place really to get into other subjects. I don’t see things as Mr. Simon does. I really don’t. I think men and women are treated in this way or the other way depending on the situation. It’s hard to generalize things, really. I don’t see it’s necessary really to debate that.”

While tennis legend Martina Navratilova does believe Williams “completely had the right message about women’s inequality,” she partly agreed with Djokovic. Navratilova said, “It wasn’t the right time to bring it up,” and that she would have expected to face similar penalties for acting as Williams did.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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