These past few weeks have been controversial for Serena Williams and the U.S. Open, where Williams lost to Naomi Osaka. The controversy stemmed from the umpire taking a game from Williams, initially due to coaching from the sidelines and then another for unsportsmanlike behavior — exemplified by her crushing her racket. She was quick to blame the umpire for sexism and even called the umpire a “thief.” When she lost, the crowd booed Osaka because of the umpire’s supposed faults. Serena Williams was wrong. I will be the first to admit that sexism is a prevalent issue in sports, but not in this regard. Here, Williams not only blamed an umpire who was simply following the regulations and accused him of being sexist, but she also detracted from what should’ve been an amazing night for Naomi Osaka.
Throwing one’s racket is improper conduct and a point can be deducted. Coaching from the sidelines is also a penalty and results in the loss of a point or a game as well. These rules are applied to both men’s and women’s games and are regular occurrences. The umpire, Carlos Ramos, did nothing wrong. He created an even playing field for the veteran star and an up-and-coming star. Williams argued that the only reason the umpire took this from her was because of her sex while she continually berated the man and demanded an apology. This is the same umpire who has been praised by colleagues and players alike for his fair ruling on the court and has been an umpire in several other major tennis tournaments. Ramos is also known for his rigidity and willingness to enforce the rules in tennis circles, regardless of sex. If anything, his calls seem more in-character than anything else.
Moreover, Williams took the victory away from Osaka who should’ve been enjoying her victory over her idol and should have been celebrated as the next great tennis star, the first from Japan. Instead, she was crying. The 20-year-old, who had bested Williams, was crying and hiding her face from an audience who booed her because of how Williams bent even the spectators to her side through her influence. This ultimately proved to change the narrative of the entire match. This also comes after Osaka completely dominated Williams. It wasn’t even close. Even if those calls had gone her way, Williams would’ve most likely still taken the loss.
I will, again, admit that sexism is an issue in sports, but not in this instance. Williams simply tried to skew the narrative. Although she tried, Ramos was fair in his judgment. This was further exemplified in her hefty fine from the U.S. Open for the whole debacle, who also sided with Ramos for obvious reasons. What I’m most disappointed about, however, was the fact that she ruined the night for Osaka — a fellow female tennis player who Williams should’ve outright supported and encouraged rather than garnered unwarranted boos and controversy. Sure, she stated that the spectators should let Osaka have the moment, but she did so while still accusing the umpire and attempting to disguise her loss. If anything, Williams needs to admit her loss and that she ruined a fellow tennis star’s night in the process. This was just a case of poor sportsmanship from Williams.