Serena Williams and Carlos Ramos, the umpire whom she accused of sexism in the wake of the US Open final last weekend, are likely to be kept apart at the Australian Open.
According to The Guardian of UK, the decision will be made for reasons of common sense, rather than because of any specific demands from the 23-times grand slam champion.
In the midst of her outburst during last weekend’s final against Naomi Osaka, who went on to win the title, Williams called Ramos a “thief” and a “liar” and told him: “You will never do another one of my matches.”
Ramos is employed by the International Tennis Federation and does not work on the WTA Tour, so the first chance he and Serena would have to meet again would be in Melbourne in January.
Given what happened at Flushing Meadows, when it comes to assigning officials to Williams’ matches, discretion is likely to be the better part of valour.
Tennis Australia, which runs the Australian Open, would not be drawn on what it would do should Williams officially request Ramos not umpire any of her matches, and the Williams camp did not respond when asked if she will make such a request.
But Australian Richard Ings, a former professional umpire, said umpires will usually take the lead when it comes to managing awkward situations.
“Say an umpire has a tough match with a player,” he told the Observer. “The player is angry, blames the umpire, says ‘you will never work a match again’. It is obvious that if the umpire does that player in the next match or next week that there will be a problem. So the umpire will simply take a break from umpiring that player.
“When the pro umpire arrives at a tournament they update the supervisor if there are any players they are having a break from.
May be none or one or two, whatever. And the supervisor schedules other qualified umpires that week for those matches.”
In the final against Osaka, Williams was warned for “coaching” after Patrick Mouratoglou, was seen making hand signals in her direction.
Williams angrily denied she would ever cheat. When she was docked a point for smashing her racket a few games later, she berated the umpire and accused him of being a thief because he “stole a point”. Ramos then penalised her a game for “verbal abuse”.
On-court coaching – where a coach can come on to court once per set – is allowed on the WTA Tour but not at the grand slams.
Coaching from the stands is banned at all times but many, including Billie Jean King, have suggested that coaching should be allowed because “it happens all the time”.