This post was written by Amy Martin Lozier who attended the U.S. Open during Labor Day weekend.
A series of bad calls plagued the women’s third-round U.S. Open match between Maria Sharapova (5) and Sabine Lisicki (26) on August 29.
The chair umpire and line judges were nearly flawless.
The Hawk-Eye system—the electronic system that allows the chair umpire, line judges, players and fans to view where the ball lands on the court (after a player challenges a call) — caught those few rulings that fell through the cracks.
Who, then, was at fault?
During nearly every break between points, mostly-male voices in the stands unleashed a barrage of catcalls. The most popular and least creative: “Mariiiiiiaaaaaaa!”
There are worse things to yell, of course.
Sharapova was not the only target of the taunts; Lisicki saw her share. Yet throughout their late-night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the tall, blonde, female athletes were uniquely subjected to ceaseless sound bites from the stands — compared to the night’s earlier matchup on the men’s side between Roger Federer (2) and Sam Groth, during which fans demonstrated their support with applause followed by respectful silence.
According to the 2014 U.S. Open Championship’s Spectator Guide,
“Spectators will be subject to expulsion and the loss of ticket privileges for the following breach of etiquette:
– Making rude, vulgar or other inappropriate comments or gestures.
– Verbal or physical harassment of players, volunteers, officials or spectators.
– Distracting a player or any disruption of play.
– Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, unsafe or illegal in nature.
– Failing to follow the instructions of a championship official, volunteer or security personnel.”
The frequency of the comments, the volume at which they were expressed, and the level of disruption they caused would have warranted these fans’ removal from the stadium. They shouldn’t need a spectator guide to tell them that. It’s just not good manners—or in accordance with common tennis etiquette.
To their credit, Sharapova and Lisicki battled on until after midnight, seemingly undeterred by the crowd participation. They were, after all, doing their job…and it is possible they have become accustomed to this phenomenon. (Sharapova took the match 6-2, 6-4.)
The chair umpire intervened a handful of times, announcing to the crowd that the players “get the message.” The fans, however, did not appear to get his.