In the controversial US Open final, Serena Williams “went too far” in her rant at an umpire, says Roger Federer. In the aftermath of a heated exchange with the chair umpire, Williams received a code violation for coaching, a point penalty for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “liar” and a “thief” during her defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka. The outburst overshadowed Osaka’s maiden grand slam title and stole from her the biggest win of her career.
“I feel like Serena should have walked away,” Federer told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper. “She did, but she went too far. She should have walked earlier.”
Nevertheless Federer did have some sympathy for Williams, adding: “The umpire maybe should not have pushed her there. It’s unfortunate, but an incredible case study.”
Unfortunately for Osaka, the 6-2, 6-4 win, became infamous for Williams’s flare-up in the second set than the dominant playing by the Japanese.
Carlos Ramos handed Williams, 37, a code violation after he judged her coach Patrick Mouratoglou to be coaching – something that is prohibited under Grand Slam rules – as he watched the match courtside. Mouratoglou later admitted he had indeed been coaching as he criticised the rule.
Mid-match Williams told Ramos she would “never cheat to win and would rather lose”. The rules dictate that the player is charged for breaching the coaching rules and not the coach.
Williams received another code violation for smashing her racquet, leading to Ramos docking her a point. When the game finished, she called the experienced official “a liar” and “a thief”. That led to Ramos docking her the next game — leaving Osaka to hold serve for her maiden slam victory.
Williams later suggested it was “sexist” to have been penalised a game. She was fined $17,000 in the aftermath of the final by the United States Tennis Association for the code violations.
In the interview, Federer also spoke about the issue of female players’ on-court attire. In September it was announced that Williams would not be allowed to wear the black catsuit she wore at French Open, with the tournament set to introduce a stricter dress code. Meanwhile, France’s Alize Cornet received a code violation for changing her shirt on court during sweltering conditions at Flushing Meadows.
“What was the problem with taking the shirt off or the catsuit?” said Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam singles champion. “Serena has worn crazier stuff in the past. Guys have worn crazier stuff. For me it was all a bit of nonsense. I was totally on the women’s side. Leave them alone.”