Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has called for on-court coaching to be allowed during Grand Slam tournaments.
Mouratoglou attempted to coach Williams during her US Open final defeat to Naomi Osaka last month, which led to Williams having a heated row with the umpire, resulting in a code violation.
The Frenchman admitted gesturing to Williams from the stands – in contravention of US Open and other Grand Slam tournament rules – but the American was left incensed at the umpire’s strict interpretation of the rule. She said she had not seen Mouratoglou’s signal and that she had “never cheated in her life”.
The incident, and the ensuing row during which Williams called the umpire a “thief”, resulted in a game penalty and a $17,000 fine.
Coaching during matches is permitted in some women’s events, but Grand Slam tournaments do not allow it.
Mouratoglou said he could not understand why tennis was “just about the only sport” where coaching was not allowed, citing soccer, basketball and boxing as high-profile examples, and pointing out that elite cyclists are in radio contact with their advisors during races.
“Authorising coaching in competition and actually staging it so that the viewers can enjoy it as a show would ensure it remains pivotal in the sport,” he posted on social media.
He went on to say legitimising in-competition coaching would end the hypocrisy.
“It is a very basic truth that the vast majority of tennis coaches are actually coaching on court, despite the rule,” he said.
“Of course, coaches are usually discreet… occasionally the players are punished for it, but for the most part they are not.”
Representatives of the four Grand Slam tournaments are expected to meet before the end of the year, at which point the future of mid-match coaching will be a topic of conversation.
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