by WorldTribune Staff, September 9, 2018
During the finals of the U.S. Open women’s tennis tournament on Sept. 8, Serena Williams berated chair umpire Carlos Ramos, calling him a “liar” and a “thief” and accusing him of sexism.
Williams lost the women’s final in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, to Naomi Osaka of Japan.
Seemingly lost in the swirling controversy, however, was the dominant play of Osaka. The 20-year-old is the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam tennis title.
While the post-match presentation and media coverage focused almost solely on Williams, “Osaka spent what should have been her victory lap in tears,” New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan wrote. “Here was a young girl who pulled off one of the greatest upsets ever, who fought for every point she earned, ashamed.”
At the awards ceremony, Osaka covered her face with her black visor and cried. Some in the crowd booed her.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was sexist,” Williams said. “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’. For me it blows my mind.”
The incident was sparked when Ramos had warned Williams after her coach was making visible hand signals from the sidelines, allegedly breaking the rule against coaching during a match.
“I don’t cheat to win,” Williams told Ramos. “I’d rather lose.” Williams would go on to berate Ramos multiple times. “You stole a point from me!” she yelled at one time.
Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admitted to ESPN that he was coaching from the stands, adding that “Everybody does it – you all know it.”
Katrina Adams, chairman and president of the USTA, said “Perhaps it’s not the finish we were looking for today, but Serena, you are a champion of all champions.” Addressing the crowd, Adams added, “This mama is a role model and respected by all.”
Osaka, who had also defeated Williams earlier this season, accepted her trophy “while choking back tears. She never smiled,” Callahan noted.
When asked if her childhood dream of playing against Williams matched the reality, Osaka replied: “I’m sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this.”
She turned to Williams: “I’m really grateful I was able to play with you. Thank you.”
Osaka “bowed her head to Williams, and Williams just took it – no reciprocation, no emotion,” Callahan wrote.
“Osaka earned her moment as victor at the U.S. Open, one that should have been pure joy. If anything was stolen during this match, it was that,” Callahan wrote.
The Associated Press reported that Williams has been fined $17,000 for three code violations during the U.S. Open final. Williams made $1.85 million for the straight-set defeat.