MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Open organisers are working to determine whether coaching will be allowed during the Grand Slam tournament in an effort to end the controversy that led to Serena Williams’ outburst over a code violation during the U.S. Open final.
Williams was given the violation when chair umpire Carlos Ramos saw her coach Patrick Mouratoglou make a hand gesture to tell her to play closer to the net against Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
She was then docked a point after she later smashed her racquet and then penalised a game for calling Ramos a “thief”.
Coaching while the players are on court is not permitted in Grand Slam tournaments, although the WTA Tour allows it in other events at specified times. It is prohibited in all men’s matches.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said at the time that he would urge tennis officials to affirm its position on coaching during matches and said on Tuesday that they were working with the governing bodies to clarify the rules.
“We’re getting the global governing bodies – the ATP, WTA and ITF – and the grand slams together to talk about our approach to coaching,” Tiley told reporters at an event for next year’s opening Grand Slam at Melbourne Park.
“I think it’s really important that it’s consistent so fans and players don’t get confused on it so hopefully in the coming weeks we are able to make an announcement on our position.”
Tiley added that Australian Open organisers had asked the now retired Casey Dellacqua and John Millman to lead a players’ review of the rules. More than 100 players were interviewed as part of the review.
“We’ve had a team out there interviewing them and the players too want some consistency on coaching and we’d like to be able to lead the way on that,” he said.
Tiley added that total prize money for the 2019 tournament would be increased by 10 percent, taking the total pool to A$60.5 million (32.7 million pounds). It was A$55 million for the last edition.
The tournament’s heat policy, which involves a calculation based on humidity and temperature and can be confusing to understand, was also being reviewed.
The U.S. Open was blighted by heat issues this year, although the design of the court might also have contributed to the stifling conditions on the main Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“We have an extreme heat policy and we’re working towards an extreme heat index which will be a little different,” Tiley said.
“The research we’ve had has been sport in general and we’ve just completed some research specifically for tennis so that’s going to be concluded in the coming weeks and it will be easier to understand.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)