Alvarado: Serena Williams Wasn’t Wrong


Edwin Martinez from The Bronx

By Andrea Alvarado

It is unfortunate how Serena Williams’ recent defeat has overshadowed the historic triumph of Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese woman to win first place in the U.S. Open. For some critics, Williams’ display of poor sportsmanship is what cost her victory — coverage of the event seems to downplay the talent of Osaka as well as the underlying social issues that this final brought to its surface. This match provided an example of not only one of the greatest females athletes in history to throw a tantrum on national television, but it also proved to be an incredibly publicized demonstration to the double standards that female athletes are subjected to in sports.

It is not a big secret that males are positioned above females in sports and athletics. Male athletes receive the largest sponsorship deals and their events get more media attention. Perhaps the imbalance is rooted in the outdated notion that men are physically superior to women. It should not come as a surprise when some of the behaviors of female athletes are overlooked in their male counterparts. Some behaviors, when displayed by a female athlete, are considered unacceptable. The umpire of Serena and Naomi’s match who is in question, Carlos Ramos, has a record of making rigid calls with tennis players over code violations. This game was the first time, however, that he penalized a player so harshly in a final.

There is no doubt that Osaka performed well against the legendary Serena Williams, but the umpire’s decisions and Williams’ tantrum ultimately tarnished Osaka’s victory. While viewers should applaud Osaka’s achievement, the focus of the final was and will be forever associated with sexism. Williams was definitely frustrated in the way the game turned out, which does not excuse her behavior, but it is something many athletes have experienced. Ramos was once threatened by Rafael Nadal in a previous match due to his rigid code, while Williams was docked off for an entire game after calling him a “thief.” Moreover, male athletes who have clashed with Ramos have not been criticized as hysteric or unprofessional. Their outbursts were considered justified, but Williams was not given the same courtesy.

This final cannot be belittled to a matter of Williams being unable to keep her temper in check, neither should the blame be entirely placed on Ramos. For as long as Williams has been dominating female tennis, she has been constantly mocked for her looks and her race — not only by trolls online, but also by fellow female tennis players. There seems to be a desire among some tennis audiences to see her fail. Williams’ success and status as a legend in a sport that is predominantly white and elitist is a transgression to plenty of people. Her refusal to act submissively and let the world attack her from every angle except in her performance in court continues to render her as the villain of every match she plays.

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