On Saturday, Sept. 8, Serena Williams, a widely famed tennis star and the highest-awarded women's tennis Grand Slam title holder, was fined $17,000 after the US Open final. During the second set, Williams was given a coaching violation, which sparked a heated exchange between her and the umpire. Her derogatory remarks toward the umpire and enraged behavior caught the eye of many tennis fans, as well as major news outlets across the country.
Now, one might think $17,000 is an obscene amount of money to pay, especially due to rule violations or behavior misconducts. However, major tournaments such as Wimbledon, the French Open, the Canadian Open and the US Open are extremely lucrative. So, when it comes down to it, a $17,000 fine for a well-known players is not that much.
According to The Telegraph and Telegraph sports, a highly respected British news outlet, the “French Open organizers have upped prize money to total of [$45.37 million] this year.”
In addition to the coaching violation Williams received, her fine includes verbal abuse directed toward the umpire and smashing a racket, which led to a game being deducted from her match score. She described the umpire as both a “thief” and a “liar.”
As a result, many labeled the penalty as “sexist,” a term Williams herself used to describe the incident. The sexist remark became the pivotal point in her argument, thrusting the tennis world into the spotlight.
The sexist argument is a hard-driven one that draws attention to authoritative tennis figures: coaches, umpires and male tennis players. It holds weight when referencing John McEnroe, often considered the best tennis player in history.
I bring up his name because of the unimaginable and highly disrespectful things he would say to umpires during his playing years, including phrases such as “communist bastard" and “[you are the] absolute pits of the world." He even swore multiple times during his matches that prompted only a point reduction or fines that didn't approach Williams's amount.
It would seem the referees or umpires got used to his outbursts and didn’t seem to penalize him as harshly as one would think, especially in the case of the US Open finals with Williams.
On the other hand, rules must be followed to promote competition. If these rules are not followed, the consequences are, indeed, reserved for use within reason.
Sports have the unique ability to equalize the playing field, regardless of race, gender or politics. However, when one of those values shift out of place, decision makers cannot turn a blind eye to discrimination of any kind.
Judge Thomas Kearns is a contributor.