Sports

Serena Williams coach favours on-court coaching

Serena Williams coach favours on-court coaching

As administrators prepare for a summit next week on the hot topic of coaching in tennis, Serena Williams's coach Patrick Mouratoglou has released a lengthy document explaining why he feels it should be normal for players to receive guidance during matches.

And he pointed out that all sorts of individual sports - boxing, golf, cycling - permit athletes to consult someone during competition. You see it all the time in team sports: "Football coaches instruct their players from the sidelines, and they take advantage from half-time to adjust their team or systems; basketball coaches can call timeouts several times during a game", he said.

While the WTA Tour already allows on-court coaching throughout the year, it is banned at ATP and Grand Slam events.

Mouratoglou attempted to coach Williams during her US Open final defeat to Naomi Osaka last month, which led to Williams having a heated row with the umpire, resulting in a code violation.

The incident, and the ensuing row during which Williams called the umpire a "thief", resulted in a game penalty and a $17,000 fine.

However, any move to allow it during main draw matches would need to be unilateral among the four slams.

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The sport's various governing bodies and Grand Slam tournaments have been looking at the issue, with some sounding more willing than others to consider permitting coaching. "Yet banning it nearly makes it look as if it had to be hidden or as if it was shameful", Mouratoglou wrote in a Twitter statement.

"Look at how many times players look towards their box during a match".

Mouratoglou thinks part of the appeal of allowing coaching is that it would help get viewers "emotionally involved". Some do it after every point'. "On-court coaching is clearly widespread, but it is unstructured, players are occasionally given code violations for it and TV viewers are given no insight into what the coaches are telling their players".

"Of course the coaches are usually discreet in the way they give message to their players - they do it with signs or coded signals - but majority also communicate verbally", said Mouratoglou, the founder and president of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in the south of France.

The US Open permitted players to talk to their coaches during qualifying and junior matches. "Sometimes the players don't like to hear what their coaches are saying, but this all adds to the drama, which creates engagement on social media".