New York, NY – September 8, 2018: Serena Williams of USA reacts after loosing women’s single final to Naomi Osaka of Japan at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (Photo: Lev Radin/Gildshire)
It is undeniable that the US Open brings action, epic battles and drama every year, but at this year’s Women’s Final the drama was of the undesired kind, a meltdown by one of the sport’s greatest champions, Serena Williams.
During the second game of the second set, Willams received a violation from umpire Carlos Ramos, for receiving coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou, who made a motion from the stands that appeared to instruct Williams to go to the net more frequently.
Mouratoglou has admitted to indeed coaching Serena, but insists that she was not looking at him. The facts therefore are that the umpire was correct to call the coaching violation in a Grand Slam final, as Williams’ coach has now gone on the record to confirm that he had indeed been guilty of it.
This call however, caused Serena to lose her cool and resulted in three code-of-conduct violations for illegal coaching, racket abuse and verbally abusing a judge, among other things calling him a “thief”, the last of which resulted in Osaka being awarded a game in the second set.
Carlos Ramos, a 47-year-old professional umpire from Portugal, is one of the most experienced match officials in tennis, Ramos has completed a “Golden Slam” by being in the chair for men’s singles finals at all four Grand Slam tournaments. He was also the umpire at the 2012 men’s Olympic singles final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer.
Overshadowed by the controversy was the fact that Naomi Osaka, 20, played brilliantly, winning her first US Open title, 6-2, 6-4. Osaka deserved a clean victory.
Williams has been fined $17,000 by the USTA for her outburst. This in the hopes that the age of when arguing with the umpire was the fashion, the John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase era, will not make a sudden return. Ultimately what fans and officials want is to keep tennis classy and fair.
Serena used the sexism argument in tennis insisting that she was owed an apology and that she was treated unfairly, however the call by Ramos was, in fact, correct as admitted by Williams’ coach, and the subsequent outbursts were under her control.
Regardless of whether men or women players have reacted this way before or not, or whether past offenders have been penalized more or less than Williams in the past, it does not validate her inappropriate reaction. It also doesn’t make her less of a legend, an incredible champion and an inspiration to many. Champions can also lose it when the heat is on, and let’s not forget that Osaka was bringing the heat.
This win makes Naomi Osaka the first Japanese-born tennis player to win a Grand Slam, an incredible achievement for the 20-year old, who grew up in New York, and hopefully the first of many more that will not be overshadowed by the losing opponent.