SERENA WILLIAMS alleged she was the victim of sexism after an extraordinary outburst during her US Open final defeat to Naomi Osaka.
The headlines were supposed to be about Williams’ bid for a record-equalling 24th grand-slam title and Osaka trying to become Japan’s first major winner, but instead the match was dominated by an argument with umpire Carlos Ramos.
Williams was furious after being given a code violation for receiving on-court coaching early in the second set after a hand signal from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou — she told Ramos she would rather lose than cheat.
As the partisan crowd booed, she was docked a point for a second violation three games later when she smashed her racket.
At one stage, Williams told Ramos: ‘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’ve never cheated.’
Williams also accused Ramos of being a ‘thief’ for taking a point from her. He gave her a third violation, resulting in a game penalty which left Osaka one game from the title.
A tearful Williams argued her case with tournament officials but, after holding serve in the next game, Osaka served out for a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Asked what she could have done differently, Williams said: ‘I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief because I thought he took a game from me. But I’ve seen men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality. 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’’. It blows my mind.’
Mouratoglou admitted sending Williams a signal but she added: ‘I literally just heard that too. I just texted Patrick because we don’t have signals. I want to clarify myself what he’s talking about. I wasn’t being coached.’
Williams has been in trouble at Flushing Meadows before. In a 2009 semi-final with Kim Clijsters, she was penalised for threatening a line judge and put on a two-year probation. After losing the 2011 final to Sam Stosur, she was fined for calling umpire Eva Asderaki ‘a hater’ and ‘unattractive inside’.
They said it…
‘Not sure how any unbiased observer who knows the rules and history of tennis can look at what happened and defend Serena’ — Former British No.1 and Metro’s tennis columnist Andrew Castle
‘I’m always going to remember the Serena that I love. It doesn’t change anything for me. She was really nice to me at the net and on the podium’ — Naomi Osaka
‘She went a little bit too far. What she was saying, she had every right to say but she kept repeating herself. After a while it is like “you have to stop” — Eighteen-time major winner Chris Evert