At U.S. Open, power of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka is overshadowed by an umpire’s power play

By Sally Jenkins Columnist September 8 at 8:28 PM                                       The Washington Post Chair umpire Carlos Ramos managed to rob not one but two players in the women’s U.S. Open final. Nobody has ever seen anything like it: An umpire so wrecked a big occasion that both players, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams alike, wound up distraught with tears streaming down their faces during the trophy presentation and an incensed crowd screamed boos at the court. Ramos took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him. Williams abused her racket, but Ramos did something far uglier: He abused his authority. Champions get heated — it’s their nature to burn. All good umpires in every sport understand that the heart of their job is to help temper the moment, to turn the dial down, not up, and to be quiet stewards of the event rather than to let their own temper play a role in determining the outcome. Instead, Ramos made himself the chief player in the women’s final. He marred Osaka’s first Grand Slam title and one of Williams’s last bids for all-time greatness. Over what? A tone of voice. Male players have sworn and cursed at the top of their lungs, hurled and blasted their equipment into shards, and never been penalized as Williams was in the second set of the U.S. Open final. [Naomi Osaka upsets Serena Williams, who received game penalty, to win 2018 U.S. Open] “I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that want to express themselves and wants to be a strong woman,” she said afterward. It was pure pettiness from Ramos that started the ugly cascade in the first place, when he issued a warning over “coaching,” as if a signal from Patrick Mouratoglou in the grandstand has ever been the difference in a Serena Williams match. It was a technicality that could be called on any player in any match on any occasion and ludicrous in view of the power-on-power match that was taking place on the court between Williams and the 20-year-old Osaka. It was one more added stressor for Williams, still trying to come back from her maternity leave and fighting to regain her fitness and resume her pursuit of Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. “I don’t cheat,” she told Ramos hotly. When Williams, still seething, busted her racket over losing a crucial game, Ramos docked her a point. Breaking equipment is a violation, and because Ramos already had hit her with the coaching violation, it was a second offense and so ratcheted up the penalty. The controversy should have ended there. At that moment, it was up to Ramos to de-escalate the situation, to stop inserting himself into the match and to let things play out on the court. In front of him were two players in a sweltering state, who were giving their everything, while he sat at a lordly height above them. Below him, Williams vented, “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief.” There was absolutely nothing worthy of penalizing in the statement. It was pure vapor release. She said it in a tone of wrath, but it was compressed and controlled. All Ramos had to do was to continue to sit coolly above it, and Williams would have channeled herself back into the match. But he couldn’t take it. He wasn’t going to let a woman talk to him that way. A man, sure. Ramos has put up with worse from a man. At the French Open in 2017, Ramos leveled Rafael Nadal with a ticky-tacky penalty over a time delay, and Nadal told him he would see to it that Ramos never refereed one of his matches again.
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Women’s Singles finals match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Julian Finney/Getty Images/AFP

But he wasn’t going to take it from a woman pointing a finger at him and speaking in a tone of aggression. So he gave Williams that third violation for “verbal abuse” and a whole game penalty, and now it was 5-3, and we will never know whether young Osaka really won the 2018 U.S. Open or had it handed to her by a man who was going to make Serena Williams feel his power. It was an offense far worse than any that Williams committed. Chris Evert spoke for the entire crowd and television audience when she said, “I’ve been in tennis a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like it.” [Serena Williams’s game penalty at U.S. Open final sparks torrent of reactions] Competitive rage has long been Williams’s fuel, and it’s a situational personality. The whole world knows that about her, and so does Ramos. She has had instances where she ranted and deserved to be disciplined, but she has outlived all that. She has become a player of directed passion, done the admirable work of learning self-command and grown into one of the more courteous and generous champions in the game. If you doubted that, all you had to do was watch how she got a hold of herself once the match was over and how hard she tried to make it about Osaka. Williams understood that she was the only person in the stadium who had the power to make that incensed crowd stop booing. And she did it beautifully. “Let’s make this the best moment we can,” she said. The tumultuous emotions at the end of the match were complex and deep. Osaka didn’t want to be given anything and wept over the spoil. Williams was sickened by what had been taken from her and also palpably ill over her part in depriving a great new young player of her moment. The crowd was livid on behalf of both. Ramos had rescued his ego and, in the act, taken something from Williams and Osaka that they can never get back. Perhaps the most important job of all for an umpire is to respect the ephemeral nature of the competitors and the contest. Osaka can never, ever recover this moment. It’s gone. Williams can never, ever recover this night. It’s gone. And so Williams was entirely right in calling him a “thief.”  
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/tennis/at-us-open-power-of-serena-williams-and-naomi-osaka-is-overshadowed-by-an-umpires-power-play/2018/09/08/edbf46c8-b3b4-11e8-a20b-5f4f84429666_story.html?utm_term=.e3e9ea9deaf1

‘We Negroes’ robocall is an attempt to ‘weaponize race’ in Florida campaign, Gillum warns

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

September 2 at 12:21 PM                 The Washigton Post

An assertion by a white gubernatorial candidate that Florida voters can’t afford to “monkey this up” by voting for his black opponent was widely viewed as a “dog whistle” to rally racists.

If it were a dog whistle — and GOP candidate Ron DeSantis denies any racial intent against Democrat Andrew Gillum — then a jungle music-scored robo-call that has circulated in Florida is more akin to a bullhorn.

If nothing else, the minute-long audio clip is a clear sign of how quickly racism — subtle in some cases, overt in others — has entered the contest to determine who will lead Florida.

“Well, hello there,” the call begins as the sounds of drums and monkeys can be heard in the background, according to the New York Times. “I is Andrew Gillum.”

“We Negroes . . . done made mud huts while white folk waste a bunch of time making their home out of wood an’ stone.”

The speaker goes on to say he’ll pass a law letting African Americans evade arrest “if the Negro know fo’ sho’ he didn’t do nothin’.”

It is unclear how many people heard the call.

In a statement emailed to The Washington Post, Gillum’s spokesman, Geoff Burgan said: “This is reprehensible — and could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity. Please don’t give it undeserved attention.”

People on the other side of the aisle also spoke out against the telephone campaign, which was first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat.

In a tweet, Gov. Rick Scott (R), the current occupant of 700 N. Adams St. in Tallahassee and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, blasted whoever was behind the robo-call.

“There is no room for any racial politics here in Florida — none,” the tweet said. “Florida is a melting pot of people from all over the globe, and we are proud of it. No attempts to divide people by race or ethnicity will be tolerated, from anyone. THIS. STOPS. NOW.”

And a spokesman for DeSantis — a U.S. congressman who has been criticized for his racially tinged comment about Gillum a day after Tuesday’s primary — called the robo-calls “disgusting.”

“This is absolutely appalling and disgusting — and hopefully whoever is behind this has to answer for this despicable action,” Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for the DeSantis campaign, said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Our campaign has and will continue to focus solely on the issues that Floridians care about and uniting our state as we continue to build on our success.”

Gillum said Sunday that he didn’t want the governor’s race to become one of name-calling.

“I want to make sure that we don’t racialize and, frankly, weaponize race as a part of this process,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added: “People are taking their cues from [DeSantis], from his campaign and from Donald Trump.”

And on Meet the Press Sunday, host Chuck Todd asked Gillum if he thinks DeSantis is racist. Gillum replied: “I have not called him a racist, but his rhetoric in my opinion has to be toned down. I won’t get into the gutter and name call.”

The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comments on Gillum’s remarks on CNN.

If elected, Gillum would be Florida’s first black governor.

“I have been really slow to try to think on it because it’s too big,” Gillum told the Associated Press. “There will absolutely be a part of this that I can’t even put words to, around what it might mean for my children and other people’s kids. Especially growing up, for them, in the age of Donald Trump.”

A disclaimer at the end of the robo-call says it was produced by the Road to Power, a white-supremacist and anti-Semitic group based in Idaho. The Southern Poverty Law Center has noted a recent rise in robo-calls across the country, describing them as a “new, high-tech, computer-delivered brand of hate,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Road to Power is also the group behind the most unsubtle attempt to turn the killing of Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa into anti-immigration policy and a 2018 campaign talking point.

Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student, disappeared in July while on a jog around her hometown. Authorities found her body in a cornfield a month later, after being led there by a man they said confessed to chasing Tibbetts after seeing her jogging, then dragging her body into a field just outside the town of Brooklyn, Iowa.

The suspect, Cristhian Rivera, is an undocumented immigrant who worked on a dairy farm, and conservatives said Tibbetts’s death highlights the need for stronger immigration laws and even a wall on the southern border. Tibbetts’s family has pushed back against that argument, with her father speaking favorably of the local Hispanic community.

“If, after her life has now been brutally stolen from her, she could be brought back to life for just one moment and asked, ‘What do you think now?’ Mollie Tibbetts would say, ‘Kill them all,’ ” an Iowa robo-call says. “Well, we don’t have to kill them all, but we do have to deport them all. The Aztec hybrids known as mestizos are low-IQ, bottom-feeding savages and is why the country they infest are crime-ridden failures.”

According to the Des Moines Register, the man producing the robo-calls is named Scott Rhodes, of Sandpoint, Idaho. He has been linked to similar campaigns in California; Alexandria, Va.; and Charlottesville. Rhodes could not immediately be reached for comment.

Colby Itkowitz contributed reporting.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/01/an-appalling-robocall-racism-invades-floridas-governors-race-second-time-this-week/?utm_term=.857020fbc652