ITF defends umpire in Serena spat

The International Tennis Federation (ITF), tennis’ governing body, has defended the umpire branded “a thief” by Serena Williams during Saturday’s Women’s US Open final.

The final, in which Williams was beaten in straight sets by Naomi Osaka, was marred by controversy after the American was docked a game for verbal abuse, having already picking up a penalty point for racquet abuse and a code violation for coaching.

During a heated on-court confrontation with Carlos Ramos, Williams called the official “a thief” for stealing a point from her, an outburst that then saw her handed a game penalty.

In her post match interview, Williams said her punishment had been more severe due to sexism.

After having initially said it would not comment on the matter, the ITF on Monday released a statement in support of Ramos.

The statement said: “Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis. Mr Ramos’ decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were reaffirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Ms Williams for the three offences.”

“It is understandable that this high profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember that Mr Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”