On another tumultuous day at the US Open that saw Novak Djokovic and Australian Ash Barty claim gland slam glory, the fallout to Serena Williams’ spectacular outburst continued.
Just minutes after Djokovic sealed a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win over Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the last grand slam final of 2018, the Women’s Tennis Association released a statement that not only supported Williams, but criticised respected umpire Carlos Ramos.
Williams was hit with a one-game penalty in her straight-sets defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka on Sunday (AEST) following three code violations, given for racquet abuse, verbal abuse of Ramos and receiving on-court coaching – something the American strongly rejected, but for which her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, accepted blame.
Osaka was booed by the New York crowd during the post-match ceremony before Williams added further fuel to the fire, insisting in her post-match press conference that her punishment felt “sexist”.
The WTA added on Monday that it felt there were double standards in tolerance of player outbursts, before questioning Ramos’ decision-making.
“Yesterday’s US Open final resulted in the crowning of a deserving new champion, Naomi Osaka. The WTA applauds Naomi for her tremendous accomplishment,” a statement from WTA chief executive Steve Simon read.
Yesterday also brought to the forefront the question of whether different standards are applied to men and women in the officiating of matches.
“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. We do not believe that this was done last night.”
The WTA called for significant change to women’s tennis to allow players to receive coaching during a match from the stands – something that is not currently permitted.
“We also think the issue of coaching needs to be addressed and should be allowed across the sport,” the statement continued.
“The WTA supports coaching through its on-court coaching rule, but further review is needed.
“Yesterday’s match showcased one of tennis’s new stars as well as one of the greatest players of the game. We look forward to more thrilling matches between these great athletes and hope that what we all witnessed yesterday never happens again.”
The drama came on the same day that Barty won her first grand slam title, teaming up with American CoCo Vandeweghe in the women’s doubles final.
The pair came from behind to see off Australian Open winners Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6).
“It’s very humbling,” Barty said afterwards.
Djokovic makes it 14, equals Sampras record
Djokovic’s 14th grand slam title took him to joint third on the list of men’s singles grand champions, alongside American legend Pete Sampras.
Only two players have won more men’s singles grand slams than Djokovic: Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17).
A pro-Del Potro crowd made itself heard during a tight first set of the men’s final. Djokovic converted the only break point, helping him take the opener 6-3.
Djokovic grew particularly annoyed with the Flushing Meadows fans in the second set, as they cheered his faults and sang songs of support for the Argentinian.
It came to a head in an epic ninth game of the second set, which Djokovic eventually held after 20 minutes and saving three break points.
The Serb remonstrated with the crowd during the pivotal set and no breaks forced a tie-breaker that the former World No.1 won six of the last seven points in.
A Del Potro win from there seemed incredibly unlikely, and so it proved, the left-hander broken twice in the third and final set.
Djokovic was disappointed that Sampras was not at the match in New York City but sent a message to his idol.
“I was hoping he was going to be here. I want to say, ‘Pete, I love you, you’re my idol’,” he said afterwards.
Victory for Djokovic capped a strong end to the grand slam season of 2018, in which he also won Wimbledon.
He had elbow surgery in February after an indifferent year battling the problem and said he was a better player for enduring a tough period.
“Difficult times but you learn from adversity … you learn when you’re down, when you have doubtful moments,” he said.
Del Potro, who cried after losing, told the crowd that Djokovic fully deserved his triumph.
“Of course I’m sad because I lose but I’m happy for Novak. You deserved to win,” he said.