Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old Japanese-Haitian player recently bagged the Grand Slam singles trophy. She was celebrated for her outstanding display of skills against Serena Williams, but the spotlight was also cast on the row between Serena Williams and the umpire Carlos Ramos.

Read this article: Mother of all meltdowns: Did Serena overstep the mark?


This incident brought to light a conversation about sportsmanship, racism, and sexism. Williams displayed bad behaviour on court, but was her behavior justifiable in response to the umpire’s judgement? Supporters have chimed in to highlight differences in the way male and female tennis players are treated when it comes to flouting court rules. (Let’s look at some numbers from BBC.)

Here lies the role of the umpire, the person officiating from the chair.

“The observance of the rules of tennis depends on the person sitting in the chair. That person is not a robot. She may assert herself early in a match. Or he may be content to sit back, call only double-bounces and quiet the crowd when necessary, especially during a very important match.”

This op-ed gives a different perspective to the incident. Perhaps the rules are to be reconsidered? How can the rules be spelt out in ways that when humans with biases enforce them, they remain as fair as possible?

To add on, an Australian cartoonist drew a controversial caricature of the incident. It was critiqued as “based on racist and sexist tropes and perpetuates the stereotype of the “angry black woman”.

Food for thought:

  1. Are there other instances in another sporting event where topics such as gender and racial discrimination are put in the spotlight?
  2. How has the use of technology reduced instances of unfair officiating of games?

Useful phrases and vocabulary:

  1. Tumultuous –  disorderly, noisy, turbulent, highly agitated
  2. ‘espouse (her long-held view)’ – to support, embrace, adopt


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