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Volume 25 No. 151
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Tennis Umpires Considering Unionizing After U.S. Open Spat

Ramos is reportedly comfortable with his performance in the U.S. Open final, despite the controversy
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Tennis' top umpires are "considering forming a union because they believe Carlos Ramos was 'hung out to dry'" by the authorities during and after the U.S. Open women's final despite "upholding the rules in sanctioning Serena Williams," according to Sean Ingle of the GUARDIAN. Many officials were angry with the fact that the ITF "took nearly 48 hours to defend Ramos," by which time the WTA and USTA has "supported Willams' claims of sexism." Umpires are "not allowed to speak out publicly under the terms of their contracts." However, a source said that there was "widespread concern" about how the USTA and WTA had "rushed to support Williams -- which had led to vitriol and abuse on social media for Ramos." This has led to several umpires "pushing for an officials' union, an idea that has floated around on and off for years" (GUARDIAN, 9/12). In London, Stuart Fraser reported some umpires are "considering refusing to officiate matches" involving Williams. The support for Williams from the WTA and USTA "further riled some umpires, who were already unhappy with the haphazard" organization of this year's U.S. Open. A source said that there was a "growing consensus that umpires were 'not supported'" by the USTA on several occasions, and that Ramos was "thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it." Fraser noted umpires are discussing whether they could "take action to stand up for their profession." One suggestion being floated is to "refuse any match assignments involving Williams" until she apologizes for "vilifying Ramos and calling him a 'liar' and a 'thief'" (LONDON TIMES, 9/11).

TWO SIDES OF THE STORY: CBS' Norah O'Donnell said it "doesn't seem like the right reaction" by tennis umpires to "further escalate this." O'Donnell: "This is the time for conversation and discussion about where both sides went wrong." CBS' John Dickerson: "Especially if you believe the ump's job is to de-escalate" ("CBS This Morning," 9/12). ESPN's Pablo Torre: "I don't mind the idea of unionizing on principle. I do feel like this voice, the umpire's voice, is what's been erased here." Torre said Ramos called Williams for a rule she "broke by the book." Torre: "If the umpires want to stand up for themselves, I understand why they want a seat at that table" ("High Noon," ESPN, 9/11). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "You don't need a chair umpire, you don't need line people. Everything is done electronically. You don't need humans out there in tennis because the ball is either in, or the ball is out and that is determined electronically" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/11).

NOT ALL ON RAMOS: USA TODAY's Josh Peter noted Ramos spoke to Portuguese newspaper Tribuna Expresso and said that he has "received hundreds of messages of support" from family members and "current and former players" after Saturday's incident. Ramos is "sure of his performance" in the match, though he declined to say more because of tennis umpires being "prohibited from talking publicly about match specifics" (USATODAY.com, 9/11). Peter also notes the ITF issued a statement Monday "supporting" Ramos' handling of the match because he "followed the rules" (USA TODAY, 9/12).

FOLLOWING THE LETTER OF THE LAW: USTA President Katrina Adams said Ramos followed the rules "by the code," though she thought he "could have done it a little bit differently as far as maybe giving her a soft warning with the coaching to start if he had seen something in the box." Adams did say there is gender bias in tennis "right now," and there "probably always has been." Adams: "We shouldn't have to carry that extra weight on our back in anything that we do, and that's probably the context of the conversation" ("CBS This Morning," 9/11).