Serena Williams’ Tirade Ruins Naomi Osaka’s Historic Win
When Naomi Osaka blistered an unreturnable serve on her second ever Grand Slam Championship Point, the celebration should have been raucous. It should have sent everyone at Arthur Ashe Stadium into an unmitigated pro-Osaka uproar. The first Japanese born player, male or female, to ever win a Grand Slam should have received one of the longest standing ovations in recent memory. She should have been able to soak in the greatest moment of her sports career without any reservation. Instead, because her opponent, Serena Williams, disrespected a chair umpire on multiple occasions and unleashed a tirade that rivals any John McEnroe put together in terms of abuse of an official, everyone is talking about Serena Williams today instead of her superior opponent Naomi Osaka. Not only was Osaka the better player of the two on the court in terms of play, but she was head and shoulders above Williams in terms of comportment. Williams got caught receiving coaching, compounded the issue by blatantly lying to the chair umpire, made a couple of disgusting remarks while caught in that lie, verbally abused the official, and then lost her cool resulting in more violations and penalties. This is a woman with a history of abusing officials, and while the U.S. Open Final was just more of the shame, she should really be ashamed of her actions on this occasion more than any other.
Those are the words of Serena Williams directed at chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Carlos Ramos saw Williams receiving coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou. Mourataoglou has admitted to the coaching, which is in direct violation of tennis code. Do the majority of players receive coaching during matches? Absolutely. Is it still illegal and something that can warrant a coaching violation? Again, absolutely. It is so prevalent that most would hesitate to call it cheating, but it does occur, and it is illegal, and if called denotes a code violation (think of it like tennis’ version of Spygate). But instead of keeping her composure for an obvious violation (albeit one that does not get called all that often), Williams decided to let it rattle her, then double down and go on the offensive (something she had trouble doing against her actual opponent Osaka).
Osaka broke Williams in the subsequent game to put Osaka back on serve down 3-2. Williams helped her opponent out with a pair of double faults and then put the exclamation on her bad game by smashing her racquet after putting a backhand into the net. Smashing your racquet is a clear code violation (“Racquet Abuse”) and because it was her second code violation, it was a point penalty and it put Osaka up 15-0 while serving down 3-2. Then Williams went off the rails:
“You owe me an apology! You owe me an apology! I have NEVER cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand what is right for her and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology and you will never do another one of my matches again.”
For some reason, Williams decided to use her daughter as a crutch for her argument, which is disgusting, especially coming from someone who once told an on-court official, “I swear to G-d I’ll f—ing take the ball and shove it down your f—ing throat.” Williams clearly was taking the code violation as an attack on her character, and so, because she was caught doing something she should not have, decided the only recourse was to act like she did not do it. When the match resumed, Osaka broke her for the second straight service game to go up 4-3. This put Williams in a sour mood; she proceeded to act like a petulant child demanding an apology, and when Ramos would not acquiesce to her strange demands, Williams followed it up with the classic, “then don’t talk to me.”
If that is where Williams stopped, so too would have the code violations. However, in the backfire of all backfires, Ramos followed Williams’ demand to not talk to her, which seemed to only infuriate Williams more, and leading Williams to state, “you stole a point from me. You’re a thief too.” That line was one too many directed at Ramos, who had honestly already taken a ton of abuse (making Williams’ current claims of sexism to be even more bewildering–a male tennis player would have been given the code violation around the second “I demand an apology”). Because Ramos (rightfully) decreed Williams calling him a thief was “abuse of an official” and it crossed the line, it was the third code violation and compelled a game penalty against Williams to put her down 5-3.
After confusion due to who was the correct server (Williams actually takes the serve because it was as if Osaka won the game on her serve), Williams started to break down on the court. She called for the referee of the match, but her pleas fell on deaf ears despite her claiming “do you know how many men (say bad things). I don’t think I do much worse than that.” Remember, this is a woman who threatened to shove a ball down an on-court official’s throat. She decried that her treatment was unfair, but where Ramos drew the line was at her calling him a thief. Not when she awkwardly demanded multiple apologies from him. Not when she essentially told him to shut up. Only when she called him a thief. Ramos’ actions were about as solid as can be (and the International Tennis Federation has backed him up for how he acted), whereas Williams’ were abhorrent.
She was caught in a lie, then used her daughter as a crutch for an argument while demanding an apology cause she got caught doing a bad thing. She followed that up by slamming her racquet for a mandatory second code violation. After going to the well once again for an apology, and demanding it multiple times, she was given tons of leeway while verbally abusing the official (and he let her because he KNEW one more violation would be a game violation). Only after calling the official “a thief” did he finally HAVE TO hand out yet another code violation. At no point during their interactions did she act in a respectful manner to the official, and worse, like everyone else (including this article) she forgot about her opponent, whom she disrespected more than anyone on that court (including the official).
Because of her actions, Williams stole a great moment from Naomi Osaka. Williams was NOT the better player of the two during the final. But instead of us praising Osaka for her fantastic play, and taking down a titan of tennis, the only thing the sports world is talking about this week is Serena Williams and her actions on the court. We have already shoved aside Osaka and her accomplishments because Williams acted like a child and threw a tantrum on the court. On multiple occasions, she berated an official, and yet, in a weekend where disrespect reigned supreme, most of the sports world is ignoring Osaka’s historic win and accomplishments, and that is the most disrespectful thing of all.