Tennis officials shaken by lack of support for chair umpire Carlos Ramos
Chair umpires and other officials are shaken by what they perceive as a lack of official support for chair umpire Carlos Ramos, given that his actions against Serena Williams during Saturday's US Open women's final were well within the rules.
"The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA," Richard Ings, a retired elite Gold Badge umpire told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls."
Ramos cited Williams three times Saturday during her 6-2, 6-4 loss against Naomi Osaka -- for getting coaching signals; for breaking her racket, which cost her a point; and for calling Ramos a thief, which cost her a game. The incident has sparked heated reactions, from former and current players to celebrities to the officials themselves.
"I'm fine, given the circumstances," Ramos told Portugal's Tribuna Expresso on Tuesday. "It's a delicate situation, but 'a la carte' arbitration does not exist. Do not worry about me!"
Ramos is "sure of his performance" in Saturday's final but did not elaborate more, according to Tribuna Expresso. He has been assigned to officiate the Davis Cup semifinal matches between the United States and host Croatia later this week.
The Times of London reported Tuesday "there was a growing consensus that umpires were 'not supported' by the USTA on several occasions, and that Ramos was 'thrown to the wolves for simply doing his job and was not willing to be abused for it.'"
The report also cited an anonymous source who said officials were considering a boycott of future matches involving Williams.
But Ings, who maintains strong contacts among active officials, said any organized action is unlikely. That's partly because the officials have no fraternal organization, no "umpires' union" that might orchestrate a boycott. Besides, there are only two or three top-level, professional Gold Badge umpires at any given tournament.
"Umpires are just upset," Ings added. "They're thinking, 'What if?'"
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told ESPN.com that the organization was not aware of any rumors of a boycott by officials. But he said the controversy, along with others that occurred during the tournament, "opens an opportunity to bring greater clarity and hold a conversation with officials about how things could have been better handled in terms of our policies."
Widmaier said the feeling at USTA is that there needs to be a push to ensure consistency in the application of the rules, including coaching violations and shirt changes by women players. But, he said, "We recognize that the officials we use from around the world are very good at what they do."