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Emotional Serena Says She Hopes Incident Helps Players in Future

Williams was fined a game for calling the chair umpire a thief in the US Open final against Naomi Osaka.

Updated
Tennis
3 min read

Despite having lost the US Open final to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams was the centre of all attention after the controversial match at Flushing Meadows on Saturday, 8 September.

Williams, who failed to clinch her seventh US Open title and 24th Grand Slam, thought she was treated more harshly by the chair umpire, Portuguese Carlos Ramos, than a man would have been.

I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for 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.
Serena Williams

"For me, it blows my mind," Williams said at her news conference. "But I'm going to continue to fight for women."

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The 36-year-old star tennis player was cited by official Ramos for three code violations during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Japan’s Osaka: for getting coaching signals; for breaking her racket, which cost her a point; and for calling the chair umpire a “thief”, which cost her a game.

On calling the chair umpire a “thief”, she said:

“He took a point from me. He alleged that I was cheating, and I wasn’t cheating. Then I had a good conversation with him. I said, ‘Listen, you know my character. You know me really well. Like you know that I don’t even call for on-court coach’. Then when I sat down, I said it again... I can understand what you saw because it may have looked... like I was getting coaching, but I’m telling you, that’s not what I do” .
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In an emotional presentation ceremony, Serena was seen trying to console her crying opponent, and even she asked a booing crowd to focus its intention on Osaka's moment.

I felt bad at one point because I’m crying and she’s crying. You know, she just won. I’m not sure if they were happy tears or they were just sad tears because of the moment. I felt like, this isn’t how I felt when I won my first Grand Slam. I definitely don’t want her to feel like that. Yeah, maybe it was the mom in me that was like, we got to pull ourselves together here.
Serena Williams

There have been a series of recent events that illustrate the ways in which tennis does things differently for men and women.

Just before the US Open, the French tennis federation president said that the black catsuit worn this year by Williams at the French Open would not be allowed at that tournament in the future. During the US Open, a female player, Alize Cornet, was incorrectly admonished by a chair umpire for changing her shirt during a match, which is allowed – and which men do all the time. And the US Tennis Association created a new rule last week that allows for a 10-minute break in men's matches when the heat and humidity are too harsh; previously, only women were given that chance for a delay.

"I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman. They're going to be allowed to do that because of today," Williams said. "Maybe it didn't work out for me, but it's going to work out for the next person."

(With inputs from AP)

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