Nigel Owens has delivered a number of massive truth bombs over Serena Williams’ US Open meltdown.
The 47-year-old, who refereed the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, said Serena was ‘disrespectful’ and owes umpire Carlos Ramos an apology.
Owens, who is openly gay, drew comparisons to his own experiences with homophobia to say Serena’s claims have only served to ‘belittle’ the sexism debate.
“Imagine someone said something to me which I didn’t like and I called it homophobic, when it wasn’t, because I knew that would give more weight to the accusation,” Owens wrote for WalesOnline.
“I’d view that as unacceptable behaviour on my part. It’s something I would never do.
“It’s wrong, but I also wouldn’t do it because it takes away from the real issues we do need to address.
“In a way, Serena is belittling the sexism debate, when there are people who should be properly called out for that kind of thing, homophobia or racism.
“Her actions do not particularly help that cause because what Ramos did was not sexist.”
Owens took exception to the fact that Serena had called Ramos a ‘thief’.
“In calling Ramos a ‘thief’, and accusing him of sexism, Serena was in effect calling a highly respected official a cheat,” Owens wrote.
“One, by the way, who has no history for that sort of thing and who has handled matches, men and women, perfectly fairly and with integrity.
“Ramos has a reputation of being a ridiculously strict umpire, in men’s and women’s tennis, so the accusation of sexism is difficult to understand.”
Owens went on to call for more respect to be shown to officials in all sports.
“What you want from a match official, be that a tennis umpire, rugby referee, football referee, or whatever sport, is consistency — not only in refereeing from week to week, but more so within a particular match. This is important and I will explain why.
“Just like Serena learning off her coach when she has had a below par performance or could have done something different in a game, or better in hindsight — something she invariably puts right next time by learning and improving — so we as referees can learn from our own experiences.
“We fully accept we don’t get it right every time.”
LeBron adds his take on Serena saga
LeBron James, who knows first-hand the microscope that superstar athletes find themselves under, told The Hollywood Reporter that he views the Williams saga through the lens of his daughter, Zhuri.
“What we all have to understand is what she is fighting for is bigger than just that match,” said James.
“She is fighting for equality — always having to win more, more, more, just to feel equal.
“Being an African-American woman playing in a predominantly white sport, she’s dealing with so much more.
“I have no idea what was going on in her head, but I feel that struggle.”