All eyes were on Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka during Saturday afternoon’s U.S. Open final match. Osaka, 20, went toe-to-toe against Williams, a player she said she loved, and proved to be able to hold her own against the greatest athlete out there. But Osaka’s win was marred with controversy when it came to umpire Carlos Ramos when he docked Williams points for code violations.
Ramos handed Williams her first violation when he accused her of getting illegal advice from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. During Williams’ second set, Mouratoglou made a hand gesture that Ramos took as advice, and Williams fired back.
“One thing I’ve never done is cheat. If he gives me a thumbs up, he’s telling me to come on. We don’t have any code, and I know you don’t know that. And I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,” she said.
Williams was issued a second violation for smashing her racket.
But many have questioned Ramos’ motives and have accused him of being sexist, since male tennis players have gotten away with similar actions. Williams argued with Ramos and demanded an apology for accusing her of cheating, and then he handed her a third violation.
Serena Williams didn't have a meltdown. She defended her honor on one of the grandest stages in a sport she's dominated for her entire adult life that continually disrespects her. Don't reduce her justified frustration to sexist behavioral stereotypes.
— Travon Free (@Travon) September 8, 2018
After the match, Williams spoke about the sexism that exists in tennis.
“He never took a game from a man because he said ‘thief,’” Williams said. “For me it blows my mind, but I’m going to continue to fight for women. The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person.”
The outcome of the match had people praising Osaka for her win, but also pointing out the unfairness of the match on behalf of Ramos.
#Tennis really doesn't want #Serena to be the greatest of all time. They are over drug testing her, banning her outfits and now penalizing her in games. And ppl say Black ppl are making this up. Does Serena have to go #Kaepernick and sue?
— Ronda Racha Penrice (@rondaracha) September 9, 2018
Would a male tennis player be asked how they will someday explain their anger to their baby child? (No.) Serena handled the question with humor, but it still pisses me off.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) September 8, 2018
The sexist double standard on display in women’s final was just ludicrous. I still can’t believe it. It was not a clean win for Osaka and it’s not her fault. It’s the umpire’s fault, for being a misogynist asshat. #usopen
— Serena Williams' Sociologist (@alwaystheself) September 8, 2018
All my years of watching tennis, I have never seen a game given to an opponent as a penalty. Serena is still a champion. Osaka played well but the empire even put a dampener on her win. So unfair to them both. 🙁
— Marilyn (@maricurt) September 8, 2018
Men aren’t policed like women are for what they wear in tennis. They aren’t held to the same standards for language and behavior. And women of color are treated the most unfairly.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) September 8, 2018
Even in losing the U.S. Open, Williams showed grace when the crowd starting Osaka booing during the award ceremony.
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) September 8, 2018
And that’s why she’ll always be the greatest to ever play the game.