SERENA WILLIAMS blew her top along with her chances of a record-levelling 24 Grand Slam titles in New York and the fallout lays bare the seething resentment and inherent sexism that still exists in society.

The American called umpire Carlos Ramos a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief’ during a series of incidents that saw her penalised three times and docked a game to leave Naomi Osaka just one game away from victory at 5-3 up.

Williams also claimed he was ‘sexist’ after the loss saying he’d ‘never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’’.

The point here is being missed by many. It’s about double standards. It’s about cause and effect. If he hadn’t called her out for coaching, then the racket smash and the subsequent comments would not have occurred.

To those righteous critics howling that she broke the rules and should have been punished . . . if you have not spent the last decade jumping up and down demanding punishment when countless other players get away with breaking a REGULARLY IGNORED rule, then you are guilty of double standards.

If you conveniently disregard the many unpunished rants from male players, then you are guilty of double standards.

If you ignore the fact this is only the second time after John McEnroe in 1990 that a player has been so severely punished in the pressure-cooker of a Grand Slam final, then you are guilty of double standards.

If you were not demanding justice when the umpire came down from his chair and coached Nick Kyrgios who was falling apart in his match at the same tournament, then you are guilty of double standards.

The cause – and the trigger here – was the umpire deciding Serena had been coached and in doing so questioned her character with the implication she was cheating. Something he tried with her sister Venus, who slapped him down verbally, during the 2016 French Open.

It was an accusation that riled an already rattled Serena – and the fact there was serious doubt whether that first code violation was valid yet Ramos still decided to come down hard is part of the problem.

The 36-year-old got the backing of United States Tennis Association president Katrina Adams who said “We watch the guys do this all the time, they’re badgering the umpire on the changeovers, nothing happens. There’s no equality. There has to be some consistency. We have to treat each other fairly.

“Serena’s behaviour was not welcome, a line could have been drawn, but when you look at Carlos in this situation, it’s a judgement call to give that last penalty because she called him a thief. “They’ve been called a lot more.

“He could have said, ‘Hey, we’re getting out of hand here, let’s tone it down’. He would have said that to a male player.”

Two-time US Open quarter-finalist James Blake backs that up and admitted: “I’ve said worse and not been penalised. And I’ve been given a soft warning by the umpire where they tell you to knock it off or get a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy.”

And a livid Andy Roddick – the 2003 champion at Flushing Meadows -snapped: “It was the worst refereeing I’ve even seen . . . the worst! I’ve seen an umpire borderline coach a player and another docked a game for saying ‘thief’. There needs to be continuity.”

Even new US Open winner Novak Djokovic said “I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final. He did change the course of the match. It was maybe unnecessary. We all go through our emotions, especially when you’re fighting for a Grand Slam trophy.”

Her coach did not help by saying he was making gestures, although “she didn’t see them, and that everyone does it anyway”. That mistake was on him, not her and all it did was muddy already filthy waters.

Many male players rant and say what they want to umpires in the heat of the moment and many, especially the top ones usually get away with it. That was the gripe she had about tennis being sexist.

And remember where this was being played – the same tournament that ludicrously penalised Alize Cornet for briefly removing her shirt – something the men routinely do – and then after widespread condemnation and accusations of sexism backed down and issued a grovelling apology.

Tennis crowds are also knowledgeable people and they did not react well to Serena’s treatment with boos echoing around an increasingly toxic Arthur Ashe Stadium.

As the Women’s Tennis Association said ‘there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men v women’.

Yes Serena – like all true champions – is a bad loser and was angry at being outplayed by a 20-year-old rookie.

Whether stars should lose their cool is not the issue here, it’s the way as Billie Jean King succinctly put it ‘When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalised for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions’.

Like me, Serena has an ‘a’ at the end of her name and it stands for ‘attitude’ and I admire her for it. She has had to claw her way to the top fighting two of the biggest issues on the planet – racism and misogyny.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her and the Michigan-born tennis legend has certainly done that.

And those that are trying to blame Serena for stealing the limelight as Osaka became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam are even crazier than squirrels on crack.

Do they really believe someone who always makes a stand for women’s rights took the conscious decision to make a scene to ruin another female’s big moment? Serena shushing the crowd, graciously congratulating her opponent and imploring others to give Osaka the respect she deserved does not fit their narrative so isn’t mentioned.

There are some trying to paint Ramos as Mr Perfect but Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Kyrgios have all had their own run-ins with the Portuguese.

Brit Murray accused Ramos of grandstanding at the 2016 Olympics sarcastically telling him ‘if you want to be the star of the show, that’s fine’, while last year Nadal said ‘there are some umpires that like to take part in the matches more’ – again hinting Ramos likes being the story.

It is impossible to prove whether Ramos was being pedantic of sexist during Saturday’s final.

But what is true is he has never penalised another player that way in such a high stakes match and when Kei Nishikori threw his racket to the floor in frustration during Wimbledon this year he let it ride – although in the same match he issued Djokovic with a warning prompting the Serb to say “double standards my friend, double standards”.

And there we have it. Those words again ‘double standards’. They may be little but their impact is huge . . .

ENGLAND lost their inaugural UEFA Nations League game 2-1 against Spain and the summer’s goodwill seems to be running out faster than small-town gossip.

It was Gareth Southgate side’s third consecutive loss and first competitive defeat at home since 2007 against Croatia.

The problem seems to be people slowly coming to the realisation that our World Cup semi-final run was more fraud than fab. Before a ball was kicked in Russia every England fan would have said reaching the last four would be a massive over-achievement.

But put it into context. If you said the Three Lions would only have to beat Tunisia, Panama, Colombia, Sweden and Croatia to make the World Cup FINAL and we failed to do that, how many of those very same people would say it was an under-achievement?

Those doubts clouding once euphoric minds only darkened in the drab 1-0 friendly win over Switzerland. Marcus Rashford scored for successive games so that was one plus, but putting Eric Dier and Fabian Delph in the middle is like pairing up a mattress and a coat-stand and expecting them to perform Swan Lake.

Croatia our victors in Moscow in July are next up in our three-nation group. Croatia – a side hurting from their own 6-0 mauling at the hands of the Spaniards. That should be easy then . . . as easy as nailing blancmange to a wall.

AND finally England’s cricketers wrapped up a 4-1 series win over India, Alastair Cook bowed out with his 33rd Test century, Jimmy Anderson became the ALL-TIME Test wicket-taker for a fast bowler (564) and Adil Rashid did his best Shane Warne impression to bamboozle K L Rahul.

Our oft-criticised lads have proved that life always offers you a second chance – it’s called tomorrow.

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