During her US Open final defeat to Naomi Osaka, Williams complained bitterly to umpire Carlos Ramos that a man would not have received the sanctions she did – three code violations and thus a game penalty.
Williams’ sexism claims were then backed up by tennis luminaries such as Billie Jean King, and by representatives from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Data released last week however revealed that at grand-slam events between 1998 and 2018, 1,534 code violations were given to men, compared to 526 women to women.
The data set was widely hailed as refuting the idea that there was inherent sexism in the sport, but Ohanian – the founder of social media giant Reddit – has angrily refuted this. He claims that the numbers are incomplete because there is no information on how many incidents the code violations came from.
Taking particular issue with Christopher Clarey of the New York Times, Ohanian wrote: “Statistics help for @NYTimes @christopherclarey please: The argument is that women are punished more often *per incident* than men are. These data only show there are more penalties for men *total.*
“E.g. If men were punished 344 times out of 3440 audible obscenities (10% enforcement), but women were punished 140 times out of 700 audible obscenities (20% enforcement) – that would mean women are penalized 2x more often than men for the same violation.”
He then described Clarey’s article as having a “misleading headline with a body of ‘research’ that means literally nothing.”
In a final swipe, Ohanian revealed that he had “donated $10 for every word (714) in that misleading article to @DonorsChoose classroom projects to make sure the next generation gets access to learn basic statistics. Thank you, @christophclarey.”
Clarey and the New York Times have not responded, but the legendary former American player Chris Evert tweeted: “Huge respect for @christophclarey”.
Live footage of @christophclarey when he realizes he wasted all that ink on a misleading headline with a body of "research" that means literally nothing. How will @nytimes respond? pic.twitter.com/eHqK7Wcgxp
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2018
After more debate, she added: “Now I understand better… your argument makes sense… but I still respect @christophclarey”.
Williams herself did not speak about the incident over the weekend, during which she competed against sister Venus at the Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic exhibition event in West Virginia.
It is unclear when Serena will return to the WTA Tour.