TENNIS legend Roger Federer has broken his silence on the Serena Williams US Open sexism saga, suggesting the game could use the incident as a catalyst for change.
Williams sparked a storm that divided tennis and the wider sporting community after accusing umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism and racism during her US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka.
Federer, who has had several run-ins with umpire Fergus Murphy dating back to 2009, took a bipartisan approach to Williams’ stoush with Ramos.
“It’s interesting but I think it’s important to look at it,” Federer told KVUE.
“Every umpire has their own style, it’s just how it is in any sport.
Roger Federer shares a long friendship with Serena Williams. Picture: Getty
“In tennis you might have an umpire that gives more coaching violations and another guy goes more to time violation.
“You might get one guy who knows that this guy misbehaves quite often so I’ll give him a warning quicker or I’ll be more lenient with a guy because he’s a nice guy and just can’t control himself. I think it really depends on the situation.”
While the Swiss master believed mistakes were made during the match, the 20-time grand slam champion hoped sexism doesn’t play a part in the modern game.
“I hope it’s not the case (that there is gender bias) but I think what happened, obviously there were mistakes along the way and there should be more discretion sometimes.”
“At the same time, they have to do their job, that’s what we want them to do.
“It’s been tricky but a really interesting case to study.”
A report from the New York Times revealed male tennis players are three times more likely to be reprimanded or fined for racquet abuse.
Male players were slapped with 1517 fines compared to 535 fines for females according to data compiled by officials at Grand Slam tournaments for the period covering 1998 to 2018.
However, Williams, speaking on The Project for the first time since the incident, refused to take a backwards step.
“I just don’t understand … if you’re a female you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do,” she told The Project.
Serena Williams also has a stoush with referee Brian Earley. Picture: AP
“I feel it’s really important to stand up for what you believe in.
“Especially if it can affect the future and affect a lot of people in the future. That’s what it’s all about.
“Really it’s just about having a great team and rolling up your sleeves and hard work.
“I work really, really hard at my game. And then I work super hard at my fashion business. And I’m working incredibly hard at being a mom.”