The storyline coming out of the women’s final at the U.S. Open was supposed to be about 20-year-old Naomi Osaka becoming the first player from Japan to win a major singles title.
But instead, most of the talk about Saturday’s championship was about the in-match meltdown from Serena Williams that produced tears, name-calling and match penalties.
It all started when chair umpire Carlos Ramos issued a warning to Williams for what the umpire deemed to be her receiving coaching during a match, something not allowed during Grand Slams.
Williams approached the umpire’s chair and told him, “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose.”
Williams responded on the court as well and went up 3-1 in the second set. But after losing a game in which she played poorly, Williams smashed her racket on the court which drew a second violation.
But unlike the first violation, which was just a warning, this second one cost Williams a point. When Williams realized the next game started with her down 15-love, she resorted to name calling with Ramos.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) September 9, 2018
“I have never cheated in my life!” Williams said. “You owe me an apology.”
She also called him a “thief” for stealing a point from her.
Ramos responded by issuing a third violation and with that comes the loss of a game. That made it 5-3 for Osaka with her needing just one more game to win the match.
Before the next game began, Williams asked to speak to the match referee as well as a Grand Slam supervisor.
Serena Williams: "There's a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things and because they're a man, that doesn't happen to them." (via ESPN) pic.twitter.com/9MqhnAja20
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 8, 2018
“To lose a game for saying that is not fair,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things, and because they are men, that doesn’t happen.”
Williams’ rage would actually lead her to winning the next game. But Osaka won the following game to win the set and the match.
With the pro-Serena crowd booing the umpire as he walked off the court. During the trophy celebration, Williams instructed the fans not to boo, and instead celebrate Osaka winning her first Grand Slam.
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) September 8, 2018
“I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to interrupt. I don’t want to do questions,” Williams told the crowd. “I just want to tell you guys she played well and this was her first Grand Slam.” The crowd subsequently stopped booing and gave Osaka, who was in tears, a standing ovation.
The WTA said in a statement that it would look into what happened during the match.
“There are matters that need to be looked into that took place during the match,” the statement said. “For tonight, it is time to celebrate these two amazing players, both of whom have great integrity. Naomi is a deserving champion, and Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud.”
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