Serena Williams Controversy at US Open

            Naomi Osaka was the 2018 US Open Women’s champion. She is 20 years old and it was her first grand slam title, but the story of the match was not centered around her. Instead everyone is talking about Serena Williams and the umpire, Carlos Ramos. 

            Ramos accused Williams coach of coaching her during the match, which is against the rules during grand slam matches. This was the basis of the controversy as Serena made it clear she would never cheat saying, “I’m telling you I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose” (1). The problem seemed to be cleared up during the next break, when Williams again talked to Ramos telling him she would never cheat and he seemed to agree. However, when Williams threw her racket, Ramos docked her a point saying it was her second offense. Williams was confused because she thought it had been clear that she had not cheated and therefore the racket throw would be her first offense. After the point deduction, Williams was really angry and kept talking to Ramos telling him that he was a thief who stole points away from her. She also repeatedly asked him to apologize to her because accusing her of cheating put her character into question. Ramos took a whole game away from Williams which is virtually unheard of in any match, much less a grand slam final.

            Williams claims that men would never face such a harsh penalty for talking back to an umpire, which is historically true. Billie Jean King, one of the most notable women in tennis history tweeted after the match, in support of Williams saying, “When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ & there are no repercussions” (2). Others took the side of Ramos such as Stuart Fraser, a tennis correspondent saying, “Ridiculous behavior here from Serena Williams, angrily pointing her finger and demanding an apology from umpire Carlos Ramos, who is merely doing his job” (3). The situation has turned into a larger debate about women in tennis and sports in general. It also comes during an important time for gender equality with the Me-Too movement going on at the same time.

            The worst part of the whole situation was how the spotlight was taken from the actual winner of the match, Osaka. During the trophy ceremony, the crowd boo-ed and Osaka apologized during her interview. It was definitely not the way anyone wants to win their first major title. During Williams interview she hinted at the fact that she might not come back to the US Open next year, which would be a big hit for the tournament as Williams is the #1 women’s player. Williams has been fined for $17,000 for code violations which will be taken out of her prize.

To see the actual controversy click the link below: