Naomi Osaka has become the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, after she beat her idol Serena Williams, in a controversial United States Open final today that ended 6-2 6-4.
The historic one hour and 19 minute match will however be long remembered for a furious row between Serena Williams and the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos.
Williams grew increasingly incensed at the chair umpire for assessing her code violations and ultimately said officials did not treat men so harshly.
The first code violation was for coaching with the score at 2-6, 1-1, after her coach Patrick Mouratoglou gestured to her, and resulted in only a warning. Williams fiercely told Ramos that she “never cheats”.
I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose,” Williams tells umpire Carlos Ramos.
A few games later, after being broken by her opponent Naomi Osaka to make the score 2-6, 3-2, Serena broke her racket in frustration, earning a point penalty.
She then unleashed a volley of abuse, saying:
“Every time I play here, I have problems. I did not have coaching, I don’t cheat. You need to make an announcement. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right. You owe me an apology.”
“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. “
When Serena called Ramos “a thief” for stealing the point from her during the prolonged rant, she was given a game penalty for verbal abuse, making the score 2-6, 3-5.
At that point Williams called for the tournament referee and supervisor, and complained that her punishment was not fair.
“You know my character. This is not right. To lose a game for saying that, it’s not fair. How many other men do things? There’s a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things. It’s because I am a woman, and that’s not right.”
“There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman you’re going to take this away from me?” she said. “That is not right.”
Serena said that compared to how male players acted during matches:
“I don’t think I do much worse,” and added, “There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things but because they are men, that doesn’t happen to them.”
Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’s coach, admitted after the match that he was trying to give her instructions, which led to her getting the first of three code violations.
“Yes, I coached I did make a coaching signal,” he said. “Serena did not see me, that’s why she did not understand why she got a warning, but I tried to coach her, like 100 percent of the coaches in 100 percent of the matches all year long.”
In her postmatch news conference, Williams said she was not being coached.
“We don’t have signals,” she said. “We have never discussed signals.”
At regular WTA events, players are allowed coaching visits, but Williams is among the players who do not use them. She said she only looked at her box for encouragement.
Naomi Osaka acceptance speech:
As the trophy ceremony began, the crowd inside Ashe Stadium booed lustily, drowning out both ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi and U.S.T.A. president Katrina Adams.
Naomi Osaka began to cry, but it didn’t appear to be the tears of joy typical of a champion. That was when Serena Williams tried to calm the crowd down.
“Let’s make this the best moment we can and we’ll get through it,” Williams said. “But let’s give everyone the credit where credit’s due and let’s not boo anymore.
We just — we’re going to get through this and let’s be positive. So congratulations, Naomi. No more booing!”
Osaka barely smiled through the ceremony, thanked the crowd for watching, and apologized to the fans that their favorite didn’t win.
“I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” she said.
The chair umpire is usually involved in the trophy presentation, but Carlos Ramos was absent for this one, for obvious reasons.