Staff Editorial: U.S. Open sparks debate
Sexism was the name of the game at the 2018 U.S. Open. It all began with a quick shirt adjustment, which left French tennis player Alize Cornet receiving an undeserved code violation for “indecent exposure.”
It followed with Serena Williams receiving three penalties and thousands of dollars in fines: one for being coached from the stands, a second for smashing her racket and a third for “verbal abuse” toward the umpire.
What do these two situations have in common? Both involved women receiving code violations for behavior that men get away with all the time.
After receiving heavy criticism from fans, the U.S. Open issued a statement saying it regretted the code violation given to Cornet. While The Lookout staff is glad that officials recognized the issue, we believe the violation should have never been given in the first place.
Cornet was wearing a sports bra as she quickly rotated her backwards shirt to its proper placement. This behavior was deemed inappropriate. Yet the male tennis players at the U.S. Open could be seen shirtless on the courts all week long — celebrating their victories or cooling down from the treacherous heat.
As for Williams, one could argue that some of the penalties she received were justified. However, she still made a valid point with her message that double standards exist in regards to how rules are applied differently to men and women in the sport.
There are countless examples of male tennis players (think Andre Agassi or John McEnroe) screaming obscenities at an umpire, even spitting on them or saying things far more offensive than “you’re a thief.” This is the so-called verbal abuse that ended up costing Williams the game.
The big question sparked by all of this is: Are tennis officials more lenient when responding to the on-court outbursts from men? Would a man lose a match for calling the umpire a thief?
Nevertheless, these incidents at the U.S. Open opened the door for an important conversation about gender equality. The Lookout staff believes everyone should be held to the same standards, and hopes this event will lead to changes that ensure equal treatment for everyone going forward.