The controversial 2018 US Open final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka is a topic that spurs heated conversation. Osaka won 6-2, 6-4, but it is arguable that her win was not fully earned.
During the match, Williams was given a warning, a point penalty, and a game penalty by umpire Carlos Ramos, all of which add up to a penalty of $17,000. The warning, given for coaching, seems self-explanatory. However, while the ITF does make it clear that coaching is prohibited, players often look at their coaches and have some sort of communication, and they rarely receive any code violations for doing so.
In an interview after the match, Williams’ coach, Mouratoglou, admitted that he was giving hand signals, as do many coaches, but also said that Williams did not see them. Williams can be seen visibly upset and majorly affected by being called a cheater.
She told Ramos, “I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose.” Over and over again throughout the entire match, Williams told Ramos that she does not cheat. This accusation and warning alone impacted her greatly.
Further into the match, she received a point penalty for racket abuse when she smashed her racket on the ground. Williams confronts Ramos and says she believes the coaching should not have been a warning, and that the racket abuse should have been instead.
She asked Ramos to apologize and said, “You are a liar. You will never be on a court of mine as long as you live. When are you going to give me my apology? Say you’re sorry.”
She also called him a thief and said that he stole a point from her. In response, Ramos gave her a game penalty for abusing an umpire or official, pushing Williams even further behind her opponent.
A double standard makes an appearance here, because, as Williams said, men have said much worse and gotten away with it. She feels that she was held to a different standard just because she is a woman.
In the past, Williams has not only had to fight against gender inequality, but racism as well.
She’s expressed how unfair she feels she is being treated by saying, “This has happened to me too many times… this is not fair… to lose a game for saying that is not fair… you know how many other men do things much worse than that? There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things, but because they are men, that doesn’t happen to them.”
Retired male professional tennis players have also stepped forward and said that they have said worse and not gotten penalized. Some argue that Williams should have controlled herself more and that she could have avoided receiving the penalties, but looking back on her tennis career and the ways she has been treated, it is easy to see where her defensiveness comes from.