It was going to be a historic night for Serena Williams Saturday at the US Open. And it was.
Not unlike past US Open blow-ups, Serena Williams lost her cool, and combined with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou to lose the final.
Let’s unpack this.
Naomi Osaka came out swinging and took the first set 6-2. Then in the second game of the second set, chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Williams a warning as he was clearly illegally coaching with hand signals from the stands.
Williams then blew up at the chair umpire, yelling that she was not a cheater as her ego took over. Soon after she broke her racquet for a second code violation (point penalty), then in a later argument with the chair umpire called him a “thief,” resulting in a game violation.
Serena alternated yelling and crying at the tournament referee in the corner of the court, then sat holding back tears on the changeover. Osaka was leading 5-4.
The 20-year-old Osaka served out the match 6-2, 6-4 to become the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam singles title.
A dumpster-fire of a trophy ceremony saw the crowd booing and Osaka crying. Williams to her credit told the crowd to stop booing, but the damage had been done.
Serena then in her post-match conference accused Ramos of being sexist and held herself up as fighting sexism for women across the planet. Cue another Nike commercial.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” Serena said. “I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’.
“For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal — like Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous.”
Osaka for her part saw a joyous occasion fall into the dumpster fire.
“I think maybe in a few days I’ll realize what I’ve done,” she told the media afterwards. “Right now it just feels, like, I don’t know. Aside from the fact there’s a lot of press in this room, it feels just like another tournament.”
The 20-year-old Osaka won her first Grand Slam title, and Williams remains a title short of tying the all-time record of 24 Slams set by Margaret Court. She has lost two consecutive Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
The Serena camp arguments were that coaching is illegal, but everyone does it. And that she said offensive things worthy of a code violation, but that “the men do worse.”
“There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?” Serena said on court to officials. “That is not right.”
The WTA agreed, issuing a statement that ended with “Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud.”
Serena’s coach in the end was also blameless. He said yes he was illegally coaching from the stands, but the chair umpire should have simply told him to stop breaking the rules.
“That’s what umpires do all year,” Mouratoglou said, “and it would have ended there and we would have avoided a drama that was totally avoidable.”
Pity Naomi Osaka who as US Open champion had to endure the boos raining down from fans through her tears.
Who’s right? It’s pretty easy to see who’s wrong. We’re sure Twitter will figure this out.
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