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Early Lead

Steph Curry on Serena Williams: ‘You’re going to have reactions. That’s what sport is about.’

September 12, 2018 at 10:25 AM

Serena Williams shouts at chair umpire Carlos Ramos during the U.S. Open. (Danielle Parhizkaran/USA Today)

In sports, stuff happens, and how an athlete copes with that stuff can determine whether he or she ends up with a championship. Just ask Stephen Curry, who has seen calls go against him and the Golden State Warriors a time or two.

While winding up a tour of Asia with Under Armour, he was asked about Serena Williams’s meltdown when an incident with the chair umpire escalated during the U.S. Open women’s championship Saturday.

“It’s tough, but with experience you understand how you can control your emotions and how you can stay focused on what the task at hand is and that’s just winning basketball games and not letting anything get in the way of that,” he told Omnisport. “You’re going to have reactions. That’s what sport is all about.”

Not that he was criticizing her. On the contrary, he praised Williams for showing “grace and class” in a situation in which Naomi Osaka, the winner in two sets, was overshadowed. ” . . . Obviously Naomi deserved to win, and she played amazing,” Curry said. “The way Serena handled the situation, I think she handled it with such grace and class.”

Williams was issued a code violation for receiving coaching during the second set, then was penalized a point for smashing her racket. When she called chair umpire Carlos Ramos a “thief,” demanded an apology and grew emotional as she said she never cheats and wants to set an example for her daughter, he docked her a game at a critical juncture. “Because I am a woman you are going to take this away from me? That is not right,” she protested. Williams, who was on the ropes against Osaka, went on to lose, 6-2, 6-4, and was fined $17,000. Both players were booed as they wept during an emotional trophy-presentation ceremony in which Williams asked the crowd to “make this the best moment we can. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit is due. Let’s not boo anymore. Congratulations, Naomi.”

Curry echoed that.

“At the end of the day, I hope everybody understands and celebrates Naomi, because she’s the U.S. Open champion and that’s pretty dope.”

Related: [Tennis umpires reportedly are considering a boycott of Serena Williams’s matches]

The incident has gobbled headlines all week, with some, such as Billie Jean King and USTA head Katrina Adams, saying tennis has a double standard in which men are not similarly punished for outbursts and others, such as Martina Navratilova and Mary Carillo, defending tennis’s rules.

For the first time since the match, Ramos has spoken up, telling Tribuna Expresso in his native Portugal that “I’m fine, given the circumstances. It’s a delicate situation, but ‘a la carte’ arbitration does not exist. Do not worry about me!” His remarks were reported by USA Today.

Meanwhile, tennis officials threatened to boycott Williams’s future matches. “The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,” Richard Ings, a former top-level umpire who is now retired, told ESPN. “They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls.”

Ramos, whom Carillo said is “very, very respected,”  is expected to be back in the chair for Davis Cup semifinal matches this week between the United States and Croatia.

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Cindy Boren arrived at The Post in 2000 as an assignment editor in charge of baseball and NFL/Redskins coverage. She switched to full-time writing, focusing on national sports stories and issues, when she founded The Early Lead blog in 2010.

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