Chair umpire’s incredible truth
AS with any final weekend of a grand slam there was plenty of cash being dished out at the US Open the past couple of days.
The winners of the singles titles, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, both received cheques for $5.35 million (AUD).
The runners-up, Juan Martin Del Potro and Serena Williams, pocketed a healthy $2.6 million.
Williams, of course, was docked about $24,000, after verbally abusing chair umpire Carlos Ramos, being warned for coaching and breaking a racket.
Then there's Ramos himself.
Former professional chair umpire Richard Ings has revealed the Portuguese official was paid the princely sum of $633 for taking charge of the Osaka-Williams encounter.
That's only a shade more than the $548 that 23-time grand slam winner Williams earned every second she was on court while losing 6-2 6-4.
We're not for a second attempting to argue Ramos deserves equal billing but the pittance he earns for officiating one of the eight most important tennis matches held in the world each year puts the entire controversy in a different light.
It comes seven years after the New York Times revealed top chair umpires were skipping the US Open because of how poorly it paid officials.
Since then daily rates have improved, from $350 to $633, but Ings said, in his experience, rates didn't increase for the latter stages of the tournament, including the final. In a series of tweets, he said officials spend about 12 hours a day on site.
As well as enough cash to perhaps buy himself a new pair of sunglasses and a hat as he seeks to stay incognito over the next few days, Ramos also received a mountain of public ridicule for his efforts.
The tennis world is split over whether the 47-year-old should have used greater discretion before penalising Williams because of the actions of her coach - or given her another warning before docking her a game for verbal abuse.
Many, Ings included, believe Ramos followed the rule book to the letter - and should be lauded for having the courage to call the violations as he saw them.
There have been a host of solutions proposed in the wake of the furore, which left Osaka in tears.
The WTA is calling for equal treatment of all tennis players and coaching to be allowed across the sport after critics inside and outside of tennis argued that she was not treated the same as some male players. The women's pro tour agreed.
"The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done last night," CEO Steve Simon said in a statement.
The first violation given to Williams was for coaching, which isn't allowed during any men's matches but is permitted on the women's tour except in grand slam tournaments.
Though Williams said she follows the rules and never receives coaching during a match, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou acknowledged that he does it and says it's well known throughout the sport that all coaches do.
"We also think the issue of coaching needs to be addressed and should be allowed across the sport," Simon said.
"The WTA supports coaching through its on-court coaching rule but further review is needed."
Perhaps they could look at an umpire's pay packet at the same time.
- with AP