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Serena Williams, Carlos Ramos

Sports need officials. They need referees and linesman and umpires who care about their craft.

But they also need officials who don't insert themselves into competition. On Saturday night at the U.S. Open, that is what chair umpire Carlos Ramos did. And it begs the question: Are certain rules meant to be broken? Or at least stretched.

In case you missed 20-year-old Naomi Osaka's 6-2, 6-4, U.S. Open title upset of six-time champion Serena Williams, the match featured a slew of controversial officiating moments. Early in the second set, Williams was given a code violation after her long-time coach, Patrick Mouratoglou made a gesture toward her.

Williams proceeded to tell the official, "I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose."

A first code violation is a warning. A second is a loss of a point and a third is a loss of a game.

Later in the set, Williams got her second code violation for breaking her racket.

Williams went on to demand an apology and call Ramos a "thief" for taking the point. Ramos proceeded to give Williams a third violation for verbal abuse at 4-3, resulting in a game loss. This denied Williams a late chance to break Osaka, giving Osaka a 5-3 second set lead.

One thing you don't see in these clips is the actual match. This was Naomi Osaka's moment. She was the better player in the match from the start. She is a budding superstar and she stared down her idol Saturday in New York City and a star was born. Even if the match was officiated differently, Osaka is still probably the champion. This should not get lost in the fireworks between Williams and Ramos.

But the reason we are talking about this is because of an issue that was out of the players' control. Serena Williams lost a full game because of nothing she did between the lines.

All three code violations were discretionary calls, similar to technical fouls in the NBA or bench penalties in the NHL. And yes, all three can be justified by the rulebook. Mouratoglou admitted his mistake on ESPN (although, Williams later said she and Mouratoglou do not have signals), Williams definitely broke her racket and she definitely was excessive in her rant about Ramos being a thief.

But there is a reason these rules are discretionary. There is a reason we hear about referees "letting them play" late in other sporting events. In the biggest moments, with the biggest players, skill and talent are meant to be the critical parts of the match. Some rules -- not line calls -- are frankly meant to be bent, broken or stretched in certain instances.

In dropping code violations on Williams in the U.S. Open Final, Ramos directly affected the score and trajectory of the match. Williams and Osaka were not permitted to determine the outcomes themselves.

I saw some tweets during the match about Ramos having "stones" standing up to Williams. I see the opposite. Rather than respect the heat of competition and purity of the championship match, he used his power high above in the chair to dictate the terms. Serena Williams was not officiating the match. She wasn't making the calls. He was. And he made the moment Him vs. Williams.

Osaka summed this all up. When receiving the trophy, lacking a smile after winning the biggest match of her life, Osaka said, "I'm sorry it had to end like this." Osaka appeared to take little pleasure in watching her mentor crumble emotionally when combating the official.

"I felt at one point bad because I'm crying and she's crying," Williams said after the match. "She just won. I'm not sure if they were happy tears or they were just sad tears because of the moment. I felt like, 'Wow, this isn't how I felt when I won my first grand slam. I definitely don't want her to feel that."

Serena Williams is arguably the best player in tennis history and she was attempting to tie Margaret Court for most grand slams of all-time (24) and pass Chris Evert for most U.S. Open titles in the Open Era (7). On top of that, Osaka has been waiting all her life to take on Williams in a grand slam final. The match didn't have to end like that, but Ramos made sure it did.

Tennis obviously has some rules to review. Remember, Alize Cornet received a code violation earlier in the competition for changing her shirt on the court, a ruling critics deemed sexist. The rule was clarified mid-tournament to make sure other other women's players would not be subject to Cornet's penalty.

Maybe rule changes or clarifications are in order. Should coaches be allowed to sit courtside if every interaction is going to be scrutinized? Either way, Ramos didn't have to take the match into his hands. Imagine LeBron James getting called for a carry in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. That's what this felt like.

Williams audibly accused Ramos of being sexist. That argument can be made. There can also be an argument that Williams does not get the overall respect she deserves, regardless of sex. Williams has won 23 grand slam titles and dominated tennis for 20 years. She is the face of women's tennis, if not overall tennis. Williams has played enough tennis to know when and where to be on the court.

It has to be asked, "Would an official dare give Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal the same code violation for coaching?"

Williams has her fans. She has her haters. Her character on the court has long been attacked, especially at the U.S. Open. And sometimes, that is justified. Williams was not setting an example for the next generation by calling Ramos a "thief."

But after the match, she reminded the world of something. She is Serena Williams, one of the most influential human beings on Planet Earth and someone who has always carried herself with grace off the court, as an activist, businesswoman, entrepreneur and now, mother.

Serena Williams deserved a clean shot at another U.S. Open title. That's what the fans would have liked, that's what Naomi Osaka wanted and that's what tennis needed. Carlos Ramos made sure that didn't happen.

In media, we are instructed not to influence the outcome of matches, but to communicate the contents and results to fans. Likewise, officials are meant to govern the game but not influence it. And at the championship level, this should never be a concern.

For Williams, she gets a loss on Saturday. But the rules will change and others may have it different.

"I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that wants to express themselves and wants to be a strong woman," Williams said. "They're going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn't work out for me, but it's going to work out for the next person."

Rules are rules? Not necessarily.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.