Don Van Natta Talks About His New ESPN Show, ‘Backstory’


On this episode of ZUCKER, award-winning investigative journalist Don Van Natta joins host Andrew Zucker to talk about his new ESPN show, ‘Backstory.’ Zucker asks Van Natta about the ‘Serena vs. The Umpire,’ the show’s first episode, as well as the backstory behind ‘Backstory.’

On who is at fault: I think one of the main conclusions and takeaways is that everybody played a part. Serena Williams did. She never acknowledged that the first coaching code violation was a violation when it clearly was. And we had some video evidence that perhaps she even saw the coaching code that was sent to her by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. Carlos Ramos, the gold badge chair umpire, did a decent job at managing the match, but I think he deserves some criticism for letting it spin a little bit out of control. He could have done better in the way he managed it. And the other thing that’s at fall is the rules of tennis. They’re arcane, they’re confusing in their language, and I think our episode showed that they also played a part in what ended up happening.

On whether chair umpires typically penalize players for coaching: Chair umpires often look the other way. They allow coaching to occur in the Grand Slams. Unless it’s really egregious will they call it. And the question here was whether this was egregious enough for Carlos Ramos to make the call when he did.