Strange scenes played out during Camila Giorgi's loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo at the Italian Open on Monday when the chair umpire called for protection from Giorgi's father.
During Giorgi’s 7-6 6-7 7-5 loss in the opening round, the umpire could be heard talking on her walkie-talkie about the Italian star's father and coach.
'NOT COMFORTABLE': Naomi Osaka's staggering admission
The chair umpire said she felt uncomfortable about the presence of Sergio Giorgi, asking officials to provide some extra backup.
“Is it possible for you to stay around?” the umpire could be heard asking.
“Because Giorgi’s father is very mad and I would like to have someone (nearby).”
The voice on the other end replied: “You got it.”
Tennis writer Jill Martin reported that Giorgi's father had been interjected during her arguments with the umpire.
“Camila Giorgi’s dad keeps inserting himself into the conversation with the chair umpire. This is uncomfortable to watch, honestly," Martin tweeted.
Fellow journalist Ben Rothenberg was also critical of the disturbing scenes.
“Nastiness and aggression toward officials is worryingly on the rise in tennis,” Rothenberg tweeted.
“There’ve been several threats made against umpires recently by ATP players (Zeppieri, Dzumhur), and now whatever is happening here with Sergio Giorgi to make this WTA umpire feel unsafe.
“Neither Zeppieri nor Dzumhur has been suspended for the threats they made toward officials on court, which fits the increasingly clear pattern of ATP not giving a s**t about player misconduct in nearly all circumstances.
Serena Williams to make long-awaited return
Meanwhile, Serena Williams says she's ready for her return to the WTA Tour at the Italian Open.
Williams hasn't played since losing to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semi-finals in February, but says she's been practising "very intensely" on clay courts and is ready to "start fresh" in her pursuit of Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.
Preparing to return at this week's Italian Open to gear up for Roland Garros later this month, Williams on Monday detailed her recent training regimen.
There was a block of time on clay courts back home in the United States followed by two weeks on the red dirt at the French academy run by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.
"So we had an intense several weeks of training - very intense," Williams said.
"I feel good. ... I'm going to have some good matches here hopefully, and then I will be at another grand slam, which always makes me excited.
"So I think either way I'll be ready."
Williams, a four-time champion in Rome, will face either French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska or German qualifier Laura Siegemund in her opening match at the Foro Italico.
She's in the same quarter of the draw as Osaka and has a first-round bye.
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