Wimbledon could be willing to rethink its staunch opposition to on-court coaching, with chairman Philip Brook saying that the Serena Williams US Open controversy was “not a good look for tennis”.
Williams was given her first code violation by umpire Carlos Ramos in the controversial final at Flushing Meadows earlier this month for illicit coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou.
The Frenchman admitted on TV immediately after the match that he had been coaching Williams from the stands but she has maintained they have not discussed coaching signals.
She was incensed by the warning and was eventually docked a game for a third violation after calling Ramos a liar and a thief.
“Being in the stadium, it was really partisan,” Brook said. “I could imagine the pressure on her [Williams] being even greater than ever, and we all saw what happened.
“I think she was under a lot of pressure, I think he [Ramos] was doing his job and what unfolded, unfolded. It was not a good look for tennis.”
There seems to be momentum towards allowing some form of coaching during matches, with everyone in tennis accepting coaches and players frequently abuse the rules and that there is a lack of consistency on how sanctions are enforced.
On-court coaching is allowed at WTA Tour-level events but not at Grand Slams, although for the last two years players have been allowed to talk to their coaches during qualifying and junior matches at the US Open. The Australian Open and French Open are believed to be willing to at least consider experimenting.
Any move to allow coaching during matches would need to be unilateral among the Grand Slam tournaments and Wimbledon has been firmly against it. But Brook is now keen to have a meeting before the end of the year to discuss the issue, although Wimbledon remains philosophically opposed.
“The situation is very confusing for everybody,” he said. “Wimbledon and others think the time has come for an adult conversation across the sport to see where it goes. What we would like to learn from those who have conducted trials is, ‘OK, persuade us why it is a good idea’.
“We [Wimbledon] are not necessarily the easiest of people to deal with. People might say, ‘Shall we all vote for coaching, it’s good for the sport’. We will say no, but if the rest of the sport say we want to do it and there are good reasons, then maybe Wimbledon should fit in.”