Watch 8 Important Moments from Serena’s US Open Final Fightback

US Open Final: Serena Williams stands up for herself as an umpire docks her a game for calling him a ‘thief’.

5 min read
Serena Williams comforts Naomi Osaka whent the audience starts booing during the presentation ceremony of the 2018 US Open women’s final.

A 6-2, 6-4 defeat in the final of the 2018 US Open and not much fightback can be attributed to Serena Williams as she was stopped short of a record-equalling 24th major title by first-time Grand Slam finalist Naomi Osaka. In her game that is.

In her actions, Serena proved just why her titles and her victories are not all that have made her one of the greatest sports persons ever.


1. Reprimanded for Coaching

It all started in the second game of the second set in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, when umpire Carlos Ramos warned Serena for getting guidance from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who was sitting in the stands, which isn't allowed.

Serena Williams responded to that by approaching the umpire and telling him she would ‘rather lose’ than 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 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.
Serena Williams to chair umpire

2. ‘You Owe Me an Apology’

In the sixth game of the second set, Serena smashed her racket on the court and was given a second violation by Ramos. This time it cost her a point and Naomi Osaka took a 15-0 lead, trailing 2-3.

Serena walked to her kit and unwrapped a new racket, but then once again approached the umpire to argue about the previous reprimand. She asked Ramos to announce on the mic that she did not cheat.

"You owe me an apology," she said. "I have never cheated in my life!"

I didn’t get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn’t get coaching. I don’t cheat. I didn’t get coaching. You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what is right for her and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology.
Serena Williams to chair umpire

3. ‘You Are a Thief’

At the change of ends after the seventh game, Serena got into another argument with the umpire.

“For you to attack my character is wrong. You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you are sorry,” she said before making the statement that was detrimental in the result of the match.

“You stole a point from me, you are a thief too,” she said while getting up and returning to her side of the court. “Code violation,” Ramos announced on the mic, adding that this time he would dock her an entire game.

From a 4-3 lead in the second set, Osaka then saw the score bumped up to 5-3 in her favour.

4. 'This Doesn’t Happen to Them’

Following her third reprimand, Ramos called both Serena and Osaka to the chair to explain his decision. Serena laughed in frustration and said, “Are you kidding me?” before asking for the tournament referee to be called onto the court.

Brian Earley along with a Grand Slam supervisor joined the players, and Ramos, on centre court and heart Serena out.

Serena, who had had previous standoffs with US Open officials in the past, said “this has happened to me too many times” and pointed out that her male counterparts on the tour had gotten away with saying a lot more to officials on court.

You know me. You know my character. This is not right, this is not fair. This has happened to me too many times. This is not fair. For me to lose a game for saying that is not fair. You know how many other men do things that are much worse than that. This is not fair. There are a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things but because they are men, this doesn’t happen to them.
Serena Williams to tournament referee

5. 'No More Booing’

The third reprimand was not overruled and Serena remained 5-3 down in the second set. Both players served one game each and Osaka went on to close the final with a 6-2, 6-4 scoreline. Her first Grand Slam title, won against a player she idolised growing up.

However, despite playing no part in the conversations between Serena and the officials, the 20-year-old was booed on court during the presentation ceremony at which point Serena stepped in, put her arm around Osaka and then urged the packed stadium to celebrate the new champion.

I know you guys were here rooting and I was rooting too but let’s make this the best moment we can and we will get through it. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit’s due and let’s not boo anymore. We are going to get through this. Let’s be positive. Congratulations Naomi. No more booing.
Serena Williams

6. Calling Out The Double Standards

She lost her second straight Grand Slam final of the year. She lost the opportunity of tying Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam titles ever, but if there ever was a lesson to be learned on ‘victory in defeat’ it was in how Serena Williams handled the loss at her home Grand Slam.

After ensuring Naomi was feted like the champion she was at the presentation ceremony, Serena went off court and then attended the post-match press conference. All smiles, the 23-time Grand Slam champion said Naomi deserved to win the match, even adding that there was a lot she could learn from her game.

Asked if she could change anything in the match, Serena stood by her remarks on court, saying, “I can’t say I won’t call him a thief because he took a game from me”.

She also added context to her comment, saying players on the ATP circuit have been allowed to get away with a lot more.

I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. 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.
Serena Williams at the post-match press conference

7. ‘It’s Going to Work Out For The Next Person’

Tearing up, the 36-year-old champion added that even though her fightback didn't see a positive outcome, at least a start had been made. “Maybe it didn't work out for me, but its going to work for the next person,” she said.

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 who has emotions and want to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman and they are going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me but it’s going to work out for the next person.
Serena Williams at the post-match press conference

8. Patrick Admits to ‘Coaching’

While Serena maintained that she did not ever look at her box for coaching instructions from her support staff, Patrick Mouratoglou said in an interview that he had indeed been trying to guide her during the match.

“I have to be honest, I was coaching, but I don’t think she looked at me so she didn't even think I was,” he said.

He also defended Serena saying that the umpire should perhaps have just cautioned her at the start. "In 99 percent of the cases, he would have told Serena, 'I've seen your coach do a movement and tell him to stop, otherwise you'll have a warning. And I don't understand why he didn't do that, where all the other chair umpires do this all year long, including him,’" he said.

(With inputs from AP)

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