Serena Williams accused an umpire of sexism and said she was treated more harshly than men during an on-court outburst that overshadowed her loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open final.
Williams, 36, was cited by umpire Carlos Ramos for three code violations during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to 20-year-old Osaka on Saturday.
What were the violations?
The violations were for getting coaching signals; breaking her racket (which cost her a point), and calling the chair umpire a thief — which cost her a game, according to published reports.
Williams was fined a total of $17,000 for the violations, U.S. News & World Report reported.
"You owe me an apology," Williams reportedly told Ramos on the court. "I have never cheated in my life! I have a daughter and I stand for what's right for her. I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose."
Afterward, Williams elaborated on her sexism claim at a media conference.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” she said. “I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’, and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.'"
“For me, it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women," she added.
While on the court, Williams told tournament referee Brian Earley that the penalties were unfair and reportedly said: “Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?”
Outbursts by men are not treated as harshly, she said.
“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 that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman. They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today,” Williams said. “Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”
What are people saying?
Two-times Australian Open champion and two-times U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka agreed. He wrote on Twitter: “If it was men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t.”
If it was men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this. It just wouldn’t— victoria azarenka (@victoria azarenka) 1536448398.0
“I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized,” James Blake, the former top-ranked U.S. male tennis player, wrote on Twitter.“And I’ve also been given a 'soft warning' by the ump where they tell you knock it off or I will have to give you a violation. He should have at least given her that courtesy.”
I will admit I have said worse and not gotten penalized. And I’ve also been given a “soft warning” by the ump wher… https://t.co/cy1K63etJ1— James Blake (@James Blake) 1536461274.0
Billie Jean King, who won 12 grand slam singles titles and helped paved the way for equal prize money in the sport, also supported Williams via Twitter:
(1/2) Several things went very wrong during the @usopen Women’s Finals today. Coaching on every point should be all… https://t.co/msekQs5rrG— Billie Jean King (@Billie Jean King) 1536459636.0
(2/2) When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “out… https://t.co/oFv3MsVYJs— Billie Jean King (@Billie Jean King) 1536459662.0
Osaka was crying after her win and Williams, who is reportedly her idol, comforted her.