Serena Williams lost the U.S. Open women’s final to Naomi Osaka on Saturday, September 8, after arguing with the umpire, who accused her of getting illegal coaching.
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave the tennis champ a violation, claiming that she’d received illegal coaching from her player box during the first set of the match.
“I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,” the 23-time Grand Slam champ, 36, told Ramos at Arthur Ashe Stadium in NYC, explaining that she’d gotten a thumbs up that was not coaching.
She subsequently smashed her racket and was given a code violation warning that led to a point penalty.
“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’s right for her. I have never cheated. You owe me an apology.”
She continued to mouth off during a change of ends, according to The Telegraph, telling the umpire, “For you to attack my character is wrong. You owe me an apology. You will never be on a court with me as long as you live. You are the liar. You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry. How dare you insinuate that I was cheating? You stole a point from me. You’re a thief too.”
She was given a game penalty and demanded that the tournament umpire be brought onto the court, where she continued her complaint.
“This is not fair. This has happened to me too many times,” she said. “Do you know how many other men do things that are a lot worse than that … It’s because I’m a woman.”
Shortly afterward Williams lost the match 2-6, 4-6, and while the players embraced, Williams refused to shake Ramos’ hand. Boos could be heard echoing across the court and Osaka, 20, was in tears as the winner’s presentation began and Williams put her arm around her.
In her runners-up speech, Williams’ voice broke as she said, “I don’t want to do questions. She played well, this is her first Grand Slam. I know you guys were rooting but let’s make this a great moment. Let’s not boo. Let’s be positive. Congratulations, Naomi. No more booing. Thank you to my team, you guys are amazing. Thank you to the crowd, you guys really are the best in the world. I really hope to play here again. It’s been tough here for me but thank you so much.”
Williams later got a standing ovation at the press conference following the match. “I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief because I thought he took a game from me,” she said of the umpire. “But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things and I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff and for me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. I mean, he’s never took a game from a man cause they said ‘thief.’ For me, it blows my mind.”
“I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal — and [Alize] Cornet should be able to take her shirt off without getting a fine,” she continued. “This is outrageous, you know, and I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and wants to express themselves and wants to be a strong woman. And they’re 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.”
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