Japan's Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams to win US Open and also her first Grand Slam title ever.
It was an iconic win for Naomi, as not only did she become Japan’s first ever Grand Slam singles champion, she also won the match against Serena Williams - who she herself referred to as her idol.
However, as Serena lost the Grand Slam title and what would have been her 24th major title to Naomi, the match focused not on Naomi's historic win, but on Serena's verbal spat with the umpire on the court.
Umpire Carlos Ramos charged Serena with a code violation for coaching. However, when Serena responded to the accusation, the conversation soon turned into a heated argument.
Consequently, she earned another penalty point for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling umpire Carlos Ramos a “liar and a thief” and insisting that he owed her an apology.
"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
"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
As the game ended and winners were announced, the crowd started booing even as both the players maintained a professional and in fact, friendly demeanor.
Serena immediately asked the crowd to support Naomi for her first Grand Slam win and to not boo but cheer for her instead.
From boos to cheers. An emotional and powerful moment for Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams at the US Open podium. (🔊⬆️) pic.twitter.com/oTg6SORjXe— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2018
"At one point, I felt bad because I'm crying and she's crying and I'm not sure if those are happy tears...I was thinking this definitely wasn't how I felt when I won my first grand slam." -@serenawilliams on embracing @Naomi_Osaka_ over #USOpen Final— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) September 8, 2018
Naomi, who played like a champion, unfortunately, had to apologise to a 'booing' crowd for winning. In a heartfelt statement, she said,
I know that everyone was cheering for her and I'm sorry it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match. It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals so I'm really glad I was able to do that.
The way the match was conducted has led to various people coming out in support of Serena, calling out 'sexism' in the sport.
This is crazy! If @serena only said you’re a thief, that’s unbelievable!!!!! I feel terrible for @Naomi_Osaka_ too. This is awful all around. The coaching violation was questionable. I see a ton of coaching from the box and that was marginal. The racket break was legit penalty— rennae stubbs (@rennaestubbs) September 8, 2018
Then to give another warning for calling the umpire a thief. 🙄 come on!— rennae stubbs (@rennaestubbs) September 8, 2018
Many male players have called umpires much worse in a heated moment and not suffered similar consequences - a point that Serena also pointed out.
Serena Williams after getting penalized because she called judge a "thief" "There;s a a lot of men who have said things and because they are men nothing happens to them"....pic.twitter.com/Vr9WTspqFw— gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 8, 2018
"I've seen other men call other umpires several things. And I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality." pic.twitter.com/QzFTixejel— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2018
The controversial match has earned reactions from across all corners, and many people and fellow players took to social media to express their opinion on what is possibly one of the biggest controversies that marred a grand slam final.
A perfect headline, sitting atop @gillianbwhite’s smart argument: “To see the devastation that those penalties wrought on two women of color at the top of their sport, during what should have been a joyous time, is heartbreaking.” https://t.co/Yxcw6NlfkQ— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) September 9, 2018
This is extremely true! Every coach coaches from the sidelines whether it’s in their own language or a few hand signals. https://t.co/6zDLoKSddM— Melanie Oudin (@melanie_oudin) September 8, 2018
Serena is a champion& doesn’t deserve it- the same way that Naomi is a champion & doesn’t deserve this atmosphere for her first GS title!— Kristina Mladenovic (@KikiMladenovic) September 8, 2018
“Chair umpire Carlos Ramos managed to rob not 1 but 2 players in women’s #USOpenfinal. Nobody has ever seen anything like it:umpire so wrecked big occasion that both players,Naomi Osaka & Serena Williams alike,wound up w/tears streaming down their faces during trophy presentation https://t.co/oW9q7jZsJb— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 9, 2018
Shocking report on @BBCNews this morning labelling @serenawilliams as ‘losing her cool’. How about rephrasing it to ‘Serena Williams challenges umpire on cheating accusation’? Language is everything, let’s get it right #USOpenFinal— Kate Ellis (@Katieums) September 9, 2018
Calling a chair umpire a ”thief” & demanding he apologize for questioning her sportsmanship & character DOES NOT warrant a game penalty, especially in the #USOpenFinal. Officials are supposed to use discretion & take into account the level of the occasion. Ramos didn't. #USOpen— TMI Michael (@TMI_chael) September 9, 2018
Serena is a leader & will lead the fight. Will the old 'beards' of sport change their stance?'beards' : refers to a person of any gender who prioritises traditional restricted views over equality of a human beingPlayers shouldnt be penalised for their gender #WTA #UsOpenFinal— Ash (@Superhero_you) September 9, 2018
Not a single male player lives in fear that smashing a racket and yelling at umps will cost them games and pretending otherwise is a joke. Either everything's a violation or nothing is!! #UsOpenFinal— Caroline Framke (@carolineframke) September 8, 2018
2018: Serena Williams calls a tennis official a "thief" and is penalized with a one-game loss.1981: John McEnroe calls one tennis umpire "the pits of the world" and swears at another, and this was his Sports Illustrated cover.#DoubleStandards#UsOpenFinal pic.twitter.com/Vc6JyBME7Y— JRehling (@JRehling) September 9, 2018
I get people don't want to see Serena act like this, but I grew up watching John McEnroe being an obscene, violent pig on the court and people just laughed at it, so I get why she's mad and I think this is heavy-handed ref is escalating the problem here, not Serena #usopenfinal— Cade Bruis (@ceid_donn) September 8, 2018
A cowardly, misogynist umpire just ruined the #UsOpenFinal for everyone, including the amazing champion @Naomi_Osaka_ and especially @serenawilliams He truly is a thief. What a horrible moment for sports.— Eric Klinenberg (@EricKlinenberg) September 8, 2018
Serena trying to comfort Naomi and telling the crowd not to boo anymore has me all in my feelings. This has all been surreal. pic.twitter.com/Q85memJKDa— Chad (@CCSMOOTH13) September 8, 2018
When a man argues with an umpire, it’s passion.When a woman does it, it’s a meltdown.Yes, her press session was faulty (with the Sexist, Gender, mother card), but this shouldn't be the reason we should all hate Serena Williams. That woman is a winner anytime any day. #USOpen— Bhadmus Hakeem (@Bhadoosky) September 9, 2018
This 20 year old girl was boo’d by the crowd on winning her first #USOpen title.. Sad reflection of mob psychology! @Naomi_Osaka_ you are a champion & u do NOT have to apologise for what u achieved no matter how petty the crowd or how popular your opponent! Respect ✊🏾 https://t.co/ZygEJ5tKWo— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) September 9, 2018
#SerenaWilliams re what happened at the @usopen final last night - I am not sticking up for Serena she shouldn’t have said what she said to umpire she overreacted it was bad but I think he was harsh & it ruined @Naomi_Osaka_ big moment after the incredible tennis she played— Jacquie Beltrao (@SkyJacquie) September 9, 2018
My view on Serena:Point about double standards between men and women a fair one.But that’s not the way to act on court so the punishment was deserved.Issue that needs addressing is the men should be penalised in same way, no place for it in any sport.#USOpen— Peter Hanson (@PeterHanson89) September 9, 2018
Still can’t get over something @jemelehill pointed out: Last week, a male #usopen umpire *personally coached* a male player. But tonight, a male umpire penalized @serenawilliams for a slight gesture her coach made that she couldn’t even see.— Carlos Ramos is a Thief (@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.#SerenaWilliams Proud of you ❤️ pic.twitter.com/G760EOgZ58— Sk Iftekhar ul Islam (@iftekharul_sk) September 9, 2018
However, some people felt that the umpire was justified in his decision and the treatment was fair.
A question for all of the female media types breathlessly retweeting Sally Jenkins' column accusing #UsOpenFinal umpire of being a chauvinist:How exactly is advancing the idea that to hold a woman to the rules is inherently chauvinistic at all helpful to cause of equal rights?!— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) September 9, 2018
I admire Serena Williams very much. I even think she's the best tennis player of all times. But today, her performance and behavior didn't live up to the ones of the true champions. Naomi Osaka was faster and more confident than Serena. She played incredibly well. #UsOpenFinal pic.twitter.com/2bUf9yY70c— Jony (@MrJonyy) September 9, 2018
Mouratoglou admitted to ESPN that he coached. Thus, the warning was correct by Ramos. Then, racket abuse warning was indisputable.Williams felt entitled to having coaching warning retracted, which never happens. So she ranted abusively, and got a third warning. All fair.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 8, 2018
Having watched the sequence of events during the US Open Women's final(again), I stand behind Carlos Ramos who deserves an apology from Serena Williams for accusing him of lying, cheating, stealing, racism & sexism just because he officiated to the letter of the law. #USOpen— Èwó-Eze Oke Izeogu (@JAEYAAR) September 9, 2018
Amidst the controversy, the truly saddening part is that Naomi Osaka could not enjoy her hard earned first Grand Slam title - a win every tennis player looks forward to!
Naomi Osaka after beating Serena Williams in the women’s final to win the US Open and her first grand slam. 🎾🏆 pic.twitter.com/iOeU0rheBr— 👑 DaddyMo 👑 🚀♠️ (@officialdaddymo) September 9, 2018
That Naomi could not enjoy her moment of glory and had to apologise to a crowd that was 'booing' her for winning, is a loss for tennis, in general.