Naomi Osaka made sports history Saturday when she became the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam title; however, her victory over Serena Williams was mired in controversy.
Osaka defeated Williams 6-2, 6-4 in the U.S. Open final at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Williams was hit with multiple code violations, including a game penalty for verbal abuse.
Tensions rose during the second set, when chair umpire Carlos Ramos issued Williams a coaching warning at 30-15 on Osaka’s serve. Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was accused of illegally coaching the tennis star from the stands after he was spotted making hand gestures. Williams became visibly upset about the violation and insisted her coach was simply giving her a thumbs up.
“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,” Williams told Ramos. “I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose.”
Williams couldn’t shake the violation off. She went on to slam her racket after losing serve in the fifth game. This action prompted Ramos to issue Osaka the first point of the sixth game. Williams’ frustration grew.
“You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry,” she told Ramos. “And you stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.”
Ramos then served Williams with a game penalty. She then called officials to the court to express her frustration over the call, claiming it underscored a double-standard.
“This is not fair. This has happened to me too many times,” she said. “You know how many other men do things that are much worse than that? [...] And because they are men nothing happens to them.”
The game resumed after officials spoke to Williams; however, the match ultimately went to Osaka. The crowd erupted in boos as both athletes stood on the podium. Williams made sure to praise Osaka for her victory.