Serena Williams has accused tennis authorities of double standards, claiming she would “probably be in jail” if she behaved like Alexander Zverev, who was thrown out of an ATP event after smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair.
Zverev was disqualified from the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco and fined $40,000 over the incident, in which he came perilously close to hitting the umpire Alessandro Germani. The world No 3 repeatedly struck Germani’s chair after losing a first-round doubles match, but is yet to receive any further sanction after issuing an apology.
In an interview with CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, Williams insisted she would have faced harsher punishment. “There is absolutely a double standard,” Williams said. “I would probably be in jail if I did that – like, literally, no joke.”
“You see that [double standard] when you see other things happening on the tour, like, wait – if I had done that? Hmm,’” the 23-time grand slam champion added. “But it’s okay. At the end of the day I am who I am, and I love who I am.”
“I was actually on probation once,” Williams added, an apparent reference to her punishment for what the Grand Slam committee called “aggravated behavior” during her 2009 US Open semi-final against the eventual champion, Kim Clijsters. Williams was placed on probation for two years and fined $175,000 after aiming a tirade at a line judge.
Williams accused umpire Carlos Ramos of double standards after her 2018 US Open final defeat to Naomi Osaka, when she was docked a game for calling Ramos a thief. “For me to say ‘thief’, and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’”, Williams said in her post-match press conference.
That loss was one of four in grand slam finals since 2017, with Williams still one behind Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 titles – but she still believes she can win that elusive 24th slam, and is planning to take part in the French Open in May.
“I should have been at like 30 or 32 [grand slams],” Williams joked. “I should have had it [the record], really, I’ve had many opportunities to have it. But I’m not giving up.”