Serena Williams accuses chair umpire of sexism during dramatic US Open final loss
Serena Williams got into a shouting row with the Chair Umpire during the US Open's Women's final and called him a 'thief.'
On Saturday, Serena Williams' bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title was in troubled waters after Naomi Osaka, a first-time major finalist, dominated the match for a set and a game.
It all started when the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, interpreted an allegedly "innocent thumbs up" from Serena Williams' coach as a helpful signal.
Ramos pointed out to Williams after the gesture that getting coaching during a match isn't allowed. Serena responded saying cheating "is the one thing I've never done, ever."
Things got heated when Williams smashed her racket a few games later, prompting Ramos to draw a second violation, which cost her a point. Ultimately, he had to draw a third violation after Williams called him "a thief."
"I have never cheated in my life!" Williams screamed at Ramos. "You owe me an apology."
However, the game resumed and Osaka went on to secure a 6-2, 6-4 victory, thus winning a Grand Slam singles title and becoming the first player from Japan to do so. However, Williams' outbursts throughout the evening overshadowed the celebration on Osaka's win.
As Osaka lifted the champion's trophy, Williams stood runner-up next to her. Both wiped away tears during the trophy ceremony amid jeers from the crowd.
"I just feel like I had a lot of emotions," Osaka said, "so I had to kind of categorize what was which emotion."
Williams was then seen whispering to Osaka's ears and then wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
"I felt, at one point, bad, 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, 'Wow, this isn't how I felt when I won my first Grand Slam.' I was like, 'Wow, I definitely don't want her to feel like that,"' said Williams, who missed last year's U.S. Open as she was pregnant. "Maybe it was the mom in me that was like, 'Listen, we've got to pull ourselves together here."'
Osaka, who is just 20 years of age, grew up idolizing the American tennis legend and had once been able to grab a selfie with Williams at a tournament a couple of years ago.
"I know that everyone was cheering for her," Osaka told the crowd, "and I'm sorry it had to end like this."
Williams was disappointed that she was not able to keep up with her image in Osaka's eyes. The young champion hit more aces, 6-3, hit the fastest serve, 119 mph, had fewer errors and saved five of six break points, all the while covering the court better than her idol, reported CTV News.
"She made a lot of shots," Williams said. "She was so focused."
Although Williams maintained until the end that she never cheated or received coaching, Patrick Mouratoglou later revealed that he did, in fact, try to signal his player but didn't think she noticed.
"I never had any warning in my career for coaching. Strange to do that in a Grand Slam final," Mouratoglou said. "Second, we all know that all the coaches coach at every match, all year long, from the first of January all the way to the 31st of December. We all know it."
At one point, Ramos called both players to explain a penalty to Williams, thus putting Osaka ahead. "Are you kidding me?" Williams said, laughing, and asked to speak to tournament referee Brian Earley. She told him "this has happened to me too many times" and that it "is not fair."
Later, Williams raised the idea that Ramos was being sexist, "To lose a game for saying that is not fair. There's a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things and because they are men, that doesn't happen."
She was then asked how she will confront her daughter, Olympia, about what happened.
"I'll tell her, first of all, if she sees it, that, you know, I stood up for what I believed in. I stood up for what was right," Williams replied. "Sometimes, things in life don't happen the way we want them, but always stay gracious and stay humble. I think that's the lesson we can all learn from this."