NEW YORK — An emotional and defiant Serena Williams argued she had been treated differently by umpire Carlos Ramos than a man would have been in the same situation, following the pair’s stunning row in the final of the US Open.
Williams was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by Naomi Osaka, but the 20-year-old’s historic triumph — the first by a Japanese player in a grand slam singles final — was sadly overshadowed on a truly remarkable evening in New York.
After conceding the first set, Williams took furious objection to receiving a code violation for coaching from umpire Ramos early in the second, angrily telling him: “I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose.”
Yet that was just the beginning of the drama as the 23-time slam singles champion, who remains one shy of Margaret Court’s record haul, then earned a point penalty for racket abuse before being sensationally docked a game after she had continued to berate Ramos, calling the official a “thief”.
For his part, Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou admitted he had passed messages to Williams, while arguing all coaches do likewise. Yet the Frenchman said he did not think Williams had looked at him and Serena insisted: “I wasn’t being coached.”
— WTA (@WTA) September 8, 2018
In a tense news conference, Williams was asked if she would do anything differently with the power to go back in time.
“I don’t know. You definitely can’t go back in time. I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he (Ramos) is a thief, because I thought he took a game from me,” she responded. “He alleged that I was cheating, and I wasn’t cheating.
“But I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. 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’.”
If it was men’s match, this wouldn’t happen like this.
It just wouldn’t
— victoria azarenka (@vika7) September 8, 2018
Williams went on to reference a controversy earlier in the tournament, when Alize Cornet earned a violation for removing her shirt on court, although in that case tournament organizers subsequently apologized.
“For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal (rights) … like Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous,” an unrepentant Williams continued. Cornet was not actually fined.
Before leaving the room, to a smattering of applause, she added: “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 wants to express themselves, and wants to be a strong woman.
“They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”