Ronnie O’Sullivan suggests ‘maybe females should referee female matches’ following Serena Williams sexism row

The snooker great asked whether referees should stick to their own gender as they have a better understanding of how players are thinking

Serena Williams says she is sticking up for women's rights following a heated Umpire Exchange at the US Open

Five-time snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has waded into the Serena Williams sexism row by suggesting only female referees should be used in women’s sports, and vice-versa for male sports, because they understand how their own gender thinks.

O’Sullivan was asked about his thoughts on the matter after female referee Peggy Li took charge of his semi-final encounter at the Shanghai Masters on Friday, and while he had no complaints about her performance as he beat Kyren Wilson to reach his first final of the season, he did expand on his thoughts in the wake of Williams’ incident at the US Open last week.

Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Williams claimed that female players were being treated harsher than their male counterparts, following chair umpire Carlos Ramos’ decision to penalise her with three code violations that resulted in a one-game penalty. Williams went on to lose the final to Naomi Osaka, but was involved in a furious row with Ramos mid-match in which she labelled him a “liar” and a “thief”.

O’Sullivan was asked about the incident, and he came up with what he felt was a solution.

“Female referees are very good but maybe females should referee female matches because they understand how a woman thinks,” O’Sullivan said.

“Maybe men should just referee men’s matches because they know how men think.

“This was what I was thinking when Serena Williams was playing. Men and women are different. They think differently. And men don’t really understand women.

“If a woman was refereeing another woman then she can go: ‘Oh, I can understand maybe how she is feeling’.”

O’Sullivan’s comments do have a leg to stand on within the Williams row given that a number of prominent figures within tennis, such as Novak Djokovic and Jamie Murray, have said that while Ramos stuck to the letter of the law he could have been more sympathetic towards the American.

Williams was involved in a furious row with umpire Carlos Ramos (Reuters)

Ramos initially punished Williams for receiving coaching during the final, which came with a first code violation, and she responded by smashing her racket into the ground that brought an immediate second.

O'Sullivan was asked for his thoughts on the Serena Williams umpire incident

Furious with Ramos’ decision, Williams engaged in a verbal tirade towards Ramos that resulted in the third code violation and an automatic one-game penalty, but she spoke at length after the match about the differing levels of treatment between genders when it comes to coaching and verbally abusing match officials.

“He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’,” Williams said last week.

“But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in