Martina Navritalova says the Serena fines were NOT a sexist thing!

BILLY JEAN KING thinks SERENA WILLIAMS was justified when she blew up at the chair umpire at the U.S. Open last weekend . . . but not everyone in the tennis world agrees.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA wrote an editorial for the "New York Times", and she said that even if male athletes get away with tantrums like that, it's still wrong.

Quote, "I don't believe it's a good idea to apply a standard of 'If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.' I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this:  'What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?'"  Martina said focusing on sexism is "missing the point," and said that if SHE would've acted that way on the court, she would've expected the punishment Serena got.  MARY CARILLO says that Serena occasionally "acts like a bully."  She also suggested that "the pressure got to" her, and that she should've understood that the "rules" dictated her punishment.

If Serena had won, she would've tied Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles . . . and that's the pressure that Mary is talking about.

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