Serena Williams’ outburst at the US Open final has raised a lot issues which need to be tackled urgently by tennis associations.
They need to look closely into the “no coaching rule” which had become a sore point for Serena during her brawl with the umpire. Serena was docked a point for it and this sparked a major row.
Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou had admitted that he tried to coach her from the stands. But the moot point is – did Serena see it?
It is more than probable that she didn’t and that triggered the outburst. But her frustration at being at the losing end and outrage at being punished for something she probably didn’t do sparked an angry reaction from her.
The no coaching rule is full of contradictions. There a different set of rules for the Grand Slams, men’s Tour, women’s Tour, Davis Cup and Fed Cup. This defeats the very purpose for which the rule was set.
In the Davis Cup, for example, the captain can coach his player from the sidelines.
The players and the coaches themselves are smart enough to use some gestures to convey a point. A touch of the cap could mean play more from the baseline or tugging a ear could be play forward.
The tennis world would be better off if the no coaching rule is totally scrapped. In every sport, coaching from the sidelines happens. So tennis could also avoid unpleasantness by having uniformity in the matter.
Whatever side former players and tennis enthusiasts take about Serena’s ranting about gender bias and racism, there is no doubt that it exists in tennis.
The same thing could be said for other sports too. But the matter could have been dealt with better by Serena. Shouting on top of her voice at umpire Carlos Ramos will not solve the issue. It’s for the men’s and women’s associations to sit together and solve the problem.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) must press for lady umpires for their section of the Tour. This would negate bias during a match.
Racism is a worldwide phenomenon and it needs an all-encompassing solution.
But the worst part about the whole incident is that it shows how bad behaviour has become part of tennis since it embedded itself in the 1970s.
The big disadvantage for tennis is that unlike field sports, the spectators can hear abuses nice and clear as they are within proximity of the players. The microphones also carry it across to TV audiences.
Sadly, many kids try to ape their favourite stars and may behave badly if their heroes do.
Serena’s outburst has opened a can of worms which is going to hurt tennis. She is the number one player in the game and some of her statements have to be taken seriously.
At the same time spare a thought for20-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan who won her first Grand Slam title. Her achievements have been swept away by the Serena saga.
A new star has been born in tennis.