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

Novak Djokovic added of Serena Williams on Sunday, “She knows I love her. She really inspires everyone.” (AP)
Novak Djokovic added of Serena Williams on Sunday, “She knows I love her. She really inspires everyone.” (AP)

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.

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.

– – – – – – –

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