Online petitions decry USTA's 'sexism,' 'racism' following Serena Williams controversy

Yahoo Sports
Tennis star <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1132744/" data-ylk="slk:Serena Williams">Serena Williams</a> pleads with chair umpire Carlos Ramos during the U.S. Open final. (AP)
Tennis star Serena Williams pleads with chair umpire Carlos Ramos during the U.S. Open final. (AP)

A pair of online petitions supporting Serena Williams in her fight against sexism have gained more than 20,000 supporters following the controversial rulings that cost her in last week’s U.S. Open final.

A Care2 petition with U.S. Open CEO and United States Tennis Association president Katrina Adams listed as its recipient had surpassed its original goal and reached nearly 20,000 supporters on its own by Monday morning. The petition calls for Adams to revoke the $17,000 in fines issued to Williams after chair umpire Carlos Ramos cited her for three contentious rules violations in the U.S. Open final.

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“Enough is enough,” read the petition, uncovered by USA Today. “Sign my petition to fight back against sexism in tennis. Tell the U.S. Open to apologize to Serena Williams and drop her unjust $17,000 fine!”

What did Serena Williams do?

With Williams trailing Naomi Osaka 1-0 in the second set of her 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.

The Care2 petition makes the same case Williams did after her loss to Osaka — that umpires are far more lenient with male competitors who similarly violate the rules. Tennis icon Billie Jean King and the Women’s Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon joined Williams in calling the treatment sexist.

A second online petition supporting Williams

In addition to describing Williams’ treatment as sexist, a second petition on Color of Change’s website called it racist. That petition calls for “commitments from the USTA that they will ensure this never happens again,” including “implicit bias trainings, audits and fair hiring practices.” The Color of Change petition cites the firing of Tony Nimmons — a black chair umpire who sued the USTA for discrimination earlier this year — as evidence of systemic racism in American tennis by the sport’s governing body.

“In what should have been a match of titans, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams were both denied the fair and dignified game they deserved,” the petition said, “instead enduring the long upheld culture and casual acceptance of gender-informed racism within the United States Tennis Association.”

More than 6,000 people have supported the Color of Change petition on Facebook.

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