Serena coach makes plea for honest and open on-court coaching

Patrick Mouratoglou

Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams, believes that on-court coaching should be allowed throughout tennis - and that coaches and players should be obliged to communicate on court in English so that television viewers can understand what they are saying.

In September, Williams was charged with a code violation for receiving on-court coaching from Mouratoglou during the final match of the 2018 US Open.

Mouratoglou later admitted that he had tried to give Williams instructions with the help of gestures, but added that Osaka's coach, Sascha Bajin, was doing the same.

Shortly after the end of the US Open finals, Mouratoglou told US broadcaster ESPN he had been coaching Williams "like 100% of the coaches in 100% of the matches", but that he didn't think she had seen it. Williams was handed a further code violation for smashing her racquet, which led to a point penalty, and she was eventually docked a game as she received a third and final code violation after branding Ramos a "thief".

The debate was fuelled by Williams's and others assertions that an umpire would not have dealt with a male player in the same way.

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The coach suggested that there is a need to amend the status of coaching as it was initiated in 2008 by Women's Tennis Association (WTA) by allowing on-court coaching in all events except for the Grand Slams.

Mouratoglou added: "Moreover, emotions run high when coaches talk to their players during matches". Williams was fined a total of US$17,000 the next day, including US$4000 for coaching, which is not allowed in Grand Slam matches.

The men's ATP World Tour and all four tennis majors, however, prohibit such coaching.

"One very good thing has happened as a effect of Serena Williams' experience in the US Open final: People throughout tennis are again discussing the whole issue of on-court coaching", wrote Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams' coach since 2012. "Boxers receive a constant stream of advice from their corners, cyclists on the road have radio contact with their teams and golfers are talking regularly to their caddies". In tennis also, many players take suggestions from their coaches despite the existence of rule against the same, he continued. Watching the interactions between players and coaches is a very good way of achieving this. You want spectators and TV viewers to have opinions about the players - and the coaches - and to know who they like and who they don't.

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