It’s the big controversy of the night. Serena Williams lost the US Open final, but it all really started after chair umpire Carlos Ramos accused her of cheating.
Most notably, it came after Williams screamed at chair umpire Carlos Ramos after she was docked a point penalty for two code violations (illegal coaching from the stands and smashing her racket) in the second set.
Williams was then docked a game penalty for a third code violation, verbal abuse after calling Ramos “a thief” over the first violation. At the time she was down a break, 4-3, in the second set. The penalty made it 5-3 in favor of Osaka.
Williams won the next game on her serve to cut it to 5-4. Osaka then closed out the championship on her serve.
Here’s how she reacted after the first accusation:
“One thing I’ve never done is cheat. If he gives me a thumbs up, he’s telling me to come on. We don’t have any code, and I know you don’t know that. And I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,” she said.
"I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose."
—Serena to the chair umpire after receiving a coaching violation pic.twitter.com/v6Q2GWYYOn
— espnW (@espnW) September 8, 2018
It all went downhill from there. She demanded an apology and everything.
“This is unbelievable,” she told Ramos. “Every time I play here, I have problems…I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn’t get coaching,” she said. “I don’t cheat. I didn’t get coaching. How can you say that? You owe me an apology. You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter, and I stand for what’s right for her. I’ve never cheated. You owe me an apology. You will never do another one of my matches.”
"You owe me an apology!"
Serena was fired up with the official in the final set of the US Open final. pic.twitter.com/r6RSbrirnV
— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2018
After that, Ramos gave Williams a third violation for verbal abuse.
“Are you kidding me?” Williams said. “Because I said you’re a thief? Because you stole a point from me. But I’m not a cheater. I told you to apologize to me.”
Serena is right. I was there. And worse, he was baiting her. https://t.co/CinW6AJJNo
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) September 8, 2018
After the game, Williams accused Ramos of being sexist.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff,” she said. “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.’”
Alllllllllrighty then. Whaaaaatevz.
Ten minutes later, the trophy presentation. More crowd boos. Osaka pulled her black visor down as tears continued to stream. Williams put her right arm around Osaka and her left hand on Osaka’s elbow. She said a few words to Osaka as the 20-year-old wiped away a tear. Osaka smiled.
“I felt at one point bad because I’m crying and she’s crying,” Williams said in the later press conference. “You know, she just won. I’m not sure if they were happy tears or they were just sad tears because of the moment. I felt like, wow, this isn’t how I felt when I won my first Grand Slam [in 1999]. I was like, wow, I definitely don’t want her to feel like that.
“Yeah, maybe it was the mom in me that was like, listen, we got to pull ourselves together here.”
She addressed the crowd too:
“I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to do questions,” Williams said. “I just want to tell you guys, she played well, and this is her first Grand Slam. … (crowd applause) … And I know you guys were here rooting, and I was rooting, too. But let’s make this the best moment we can, and we’ll get through it. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit’s due. Let’s not boo anymore. We’re going to get through this, and let’s be positive. So congratulations, Naomi. No more booing.”
“I hope to continue to go and play here again. We’ll see. It’s been a tough year for me,” she added.
Serena comforted an emotional Naomi Osaka after losing in the US Open 😥 pic.twitter.com/oCLTRn66cW
— espnW (@espnW) September 8, 2018
Twitter has #AllTheFeelings.
Really confused how Serena Williams spun her outburst penalties into a women’s rights issue. Can you imagine, for example, Odell Beckham Jr. creating a social justice excuse for punching a wall last year & the press APPLAUDING him after? Would never happen.
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) September 8, 2018
— Offsiders ABC (@OffsidersABC) September 9, 2018
I feel like it’s such a privilege to witness @serenawilliams continue to be the greatest in all aspects of sport. Her genuineness/humility towards Naomi was absolutely phenomenal.
— Lauren Holiday (@laurenholiday12) September 8, 2018
I played tennis at a very high level and witnessed male players screaming obscenities at chair umpires all day long and no penalty. WhT @serenawilliams said was not even mild it was absolutely nothing worthy of a warning let alone a penalty. Don’t tell me that wasn’t sexist!
— Pej Vahdat (@pejvahdat) September 8, 2018
My heart goes out to @serenawilliams. The #usopen and @usta owe you an apology. THANK YOU for standing up for yourself and standing up for all women. You were robbed of your right to a fair match by a sexist umpire, but you inspire us all with your strength and determination.
— Serena Williams' Sociologist (@alwaystheself) September 9, 2018
In 10 years I won’t remember who won the 2018 US Open…
But I will remember the day Serena Williams stood up for herself and rightfully so on a bad call even with the consequences…
She was robbed today. But she made sure to defend her character.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) September 9, 2018
I cried. Not just for Serena. But for the raw familiarity of what she endured and for women who are Serena all day, everyday. With poise and patience we rise above being wronged by power-tripping men. #WeAreSerena
— Jehmu (@Jehmu) September 8, 2018
— Sheel Tyle (@sheeltyle) September 8, 2018
— Elizabeth Reaser (@reasereaser) September 9, 2018
Hot takes: ALL top tennis players are whiny babies. It’s an emotional solo sport! I can rattle off a list of so many outbursts from men.@serenawilliams is the GOAT.U don’t take away A GAME from the GOAT in a finals for getting hot.If MJ got two T’s in a final, we’d riot. #usopen
— Matt Ritter (@mattritter1) September 9, 2018
i don't cheat to win, i'd rather lose.
thank you, Serena Williams. an incredible moment for women today.
— Kathleen Edwards (@kittythefool) September 9, 2018
Who’s right here? Thoughts?
h/t NBC Sports