NEW YORK — Serena Williams had a terse response when asked her thoughts on chair umpire Carlos Ramos not being assigned to any of her U.S. Open matches this year.
“Yeah, I don’t know who that is,” she said after crushing Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 on Monday in her first U.S. Open match since last year’s controversial final loss to Naomi Osaka.
In that 2018 defeat, Williams was given three code violations by Ramos, which resulted in a game penalty deep in the decisive set.
The violations were for illegal coaching from her box, which Williams denied receiving (though it was her coach’s intent); smashing her racket and, finally, verbal abuse for calling Ramos “a thief” over the first violation.
After the match, Williams pointed up to Ramos and said, “You owe me an apology.”
“For me to say ‘thief,’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark,” Williams said later. “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’”
Williams was fined $17,000 the next day. Williams revealed earlier this summer that she later sent Osaka an apology for her behavior.
The U.S. Tennis Association decided to preemptively say that Ramos would not work any matches involving Williams or older sister Venus to keep the attention on the players.
Williams was asked if last year’s final entered her mind during Monday’s match. She answered not by mentioning 2018 specifically, but by noting the Ashe Stadium crowd.
“I’ve had a lot of tough losses here for whatever reason,” she said. “To walk back out here and hear everyone support me, from all the ups and downs, is super amazing.”
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