Serena Williams’ Fight for Women’s Rights at U.S. Open Results in $17,000 Dollar Fine
The 23-time Grand Slam winner was defeated by Japan’s twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows on Saturday. Osaka became the first Japan-born woman to win a Grand Slam final… however, the landmark result is not what everyone is talking about, thanks to a series of penalties that highlight the sexism plaguing the sport. Following an altercation, the US Open’s referee’s office docked Williams a total of $17 000 out of the $1.85 million due to her for reaching the final.
The drama started when Carlos Ramos, the chair umpire, handed Williams a coaching violation early in the second set because of illegal hand gestures made from the sidelinesby her coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Patrick Mouratoglou said later that he had been giving her advice, but did not think she had seen him. “I’m honest, I was coaching. I don’t think she looked at me so that’s why she didn’t even think I was,” he said.
When the violation was announced Williams approached Ramos to say she never takes coaching and would rather lose than “cheat to win”. “I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I'm telling you it's not,” she said. “I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose. I'm just letting you know.”
Later, Williams received another violation for smashing her racket after missing a shot, for which she was also issued a one-point deduction.
During the next set, a frustrated Williams approached Ramos a second time. “You need to make an announcement that I didn't get coaching,” she said. “You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life.”
She also called Ramos a “thief,” asserting that he stole the point from her. Ramos then penalized Williams further, citing “verbal abuse.” She was then forced to forfeit an entire game.
Renowned tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg claimed Williams felt entitled to have the coaching warning retracted. He could not have been more correct.As fans watched on in awe of the extraordinary meltdown of one of the most successful sports stars in history, a sheepish Osaka stood in the shadows.
Afterwards the American said it was “sexist” to have been penalized an entire game. “He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief',” the 36-year-old former world number one added.“I’m here to fight for women’s rights and women’s equality,” she said later. “The fact that I have to go through this is an example. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”
Tennis great John McEnroe, one of the game’s most tempestuous characters in his playing days, said the sport must find a way to allow players to express feelings and inject their personality into the game while adhering to the rules. Ramos should not have given Williams a violation for breaking her racquet and should have warned her early on about what would happen if she did not move on, he said.
“I’ve said far worse,” McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam singles winner, said on ESPN. “She’s right about the guys being held to a different standard, there’s no question.”
At the end of the day, the most egregious crime here is that the match won't be remembered as a well-deserved victory for Osaka, or as a compelling athletic battle between two talented women of color. Instead, it will exist in the context of tennis' continued problem with sexism. The Japanese-born star — who is 16 years Williams’ junior — stood silently with her head bowed in tears at the post-match presentation.
“It should have been her moment of glory after spending her entire life dedicated to raising one of the most revered trophies in tennis. Instead, she looked like an embarrassed kid not knowing where to stand in an hour when the stadium should have been hers,” Fox Sports reports.
Serena Williams (and the US Open crowd) has ruined this title for Osaka and she should be pilloried for it. What a disgrace.— James Wickham (@JamesWickham) September 8, 2018
Serena Williams was fined $17,000 by the United States Tennis Association for the violations during the match. According to Fox News, she was fined $10 000 for “verbal abuse” aimed at Ramos, $4 000 for being warned for coaching and $3 000 for breaking her racket.
Australian Margaret Court, whose tally of Grand Slam singles titles is being chased by Williams, had little sympathy for the 36-year-old American former world number one.
“We always had to go by the rules,” Court, who dominated tennis during the 1960s and early 1970s, said according to a report in The Australian. “It’s sad for the sport when a player tries to become bigger than the rules.Because the young player outplayed her in the first set, I think pressure got her more than anything.”