Billie Jean King has been called out for her ‘hypocritical’ stance on the Novak Djokovic incident compared to how she reacted to Serena Williams’ dramas at the US Open in 2018.
The American tennis champion was unequivocal that officials had made the right decision in defaulting Djokovic after he struck a line judge with a ball on Sunday.
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Djokovic accidentally hit the female official in the throat after hitting the ball in frustration during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.
The line judge collapsed to the ground and gasped for air, with Djokovic defaulted after around 10 minutes of discussions with tournament officials.
According to 16-time grand slam champion King, the decision to default Djokovic was the right one.
“First I hope the line judge is okay. The rule is the rule,” she wrote on Twitter.
“It is unfortunate for everyone involved, but in this specific situation the default was the right call.”
Here are my thoughts on the Novak Djokovic default.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 6, 2020
First I hope the line judge is okay.
The rule is the rule. It is unfortunate for everyone involved, but in this specific situation the default was the right call. #USOpen
However King’s declaration that the rule should be applied to the strict letter of the law was met with condemnation after she defended Serena in 2018.
Serena was docked a whole game in the 2018 US Open final against Naomi Osaka after three unsportsmanlike conduct violations.
At the time, King slammed chair umpire Carlos Ramos for applying the rules without any leniency, despite Serena calling him a “liar” and “thief” during a stunning on-court implosion.
“You weren’t saying ‘the rule is the rule’ when you were unfairly hammering Carlos Ramos a couple of years ago,” Stuart Fraser of The Times responded to King’s tweet about Djokovic on Sunday.
You weren't saying "the rule is the rule" when you were unfairly hammering Carlos Ramos a couple of years ago... https://t.co/mGtlXE5fHJ— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) September 6, 2020
American commentator John Ziegler also called out King, writing: “But when Serena was only penalised for purposely breaking her racquet (unlike this situation) after having already been warned, that was sexist/racist, right Billie Jean?
“All of those who claimed a man wouldn’t be treated like Serena was, please apologise. You have been exposed”.
But when Serena was only penalized for purposely breaking her racquet (unlike this situation) after having already been warned, that was sexist/racist, right Billie Jean?— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) September 6, 2020
All of those who claimed a man wouldn’t be treated like Serena was, please apologize. You have been exposed!
King said Serena had been unfairly treated because she was a woman.
“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalised for it,” King tweeted in 2018.
“When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ & and there are no repercussions. Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same’.”
Djokovic cops $10,000 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct
Djokovic has since been fined $US10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That amount is half the $US20,000 that a player can be docked for violating the unsportsmanlike conduct clause of the grand slam rule book.
The $US10,000 is in addition to the $US250,000 in prize money the US Tennis Association said the world No.1 would forfeit after being disqualified in the first set of his fourth-round match on Sunday.
Djokovic, who failed to front the media after the default, later posted an apology on social media.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” he wrote, adding that “thank God” the woman was okay.
“I'm extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong,” Djokovic said.
He also apologised to tournament organisers for “my behaviour” but did not say whether he thought they were right to default him.
The United States Tennis Association said Djokovic had been defaulted under the grand slam rules for “intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”