On Saturday, September 8th, the US Open women’s final took place. The young and upcoming 20-year-old, Naomi Osaka, took on her idol, 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams. Coming into this match, both players were playing great tennis and had only dropped one set each. Earlier this year, at the Miami Open, Osaka had won against Williams, easily beating her 6-3, 6-2. She also had her first major win at Indian Wells, defeating the current number one seed, Simona Halep, and former number one seeds, Maria Sharapova and Karolina Pliskova. However, coming into this match, Williams, the seventeenth seed, was the definitive favorite.
Osaka was clearly off to a great start in the first set; her serve was consistent and she was playing incredibly. As a result, she broke William’s serve twice, smoothly winning the set 6-2. The second set started soon after, and Williams was up 1-0 when things started to get complicated. William’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was accused of coaching her from the stands with hand signals, urging her to go to the net more often. Carlos Ramos, the chair umpire, noticed these hand motions and issued a code violation. Outraged by this accusation, Williams confronted Ramos and expressed, “If he’s giving 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 thought that was coaching but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.” During the next few court changes, Williams kept bringing up the matter. Williams ended up breaking Osaka’s serve, but could not hold her own service game after double faulting twice, making the score 3-2. Serena then proceeded to smash her racquet after an unforced error, causing Ramos to issue another code violation and point penalty. This resulted in her becoming more outraged and demanding an apology from Ramos. Amazingly, Osaka was able to keep her nerves in check to hold her serve, and then proceeded to break Serena’s service game, making the score 4-3. When switching sides, Williams exchanged some words with Ramos, calling him a “liar” and a thief, as well as claiming that he stole a point from her. This “verbal abuse” resulted in a game penalty, and the score was now 5-3. Williams held serve and during this change of ends, she essentially accused Ramos of being sexist and expressed that she has always had problems at this tournament. Osaka held serve again, winning the second set 6-4, and becoming the 2018 US Open Championship. She made history, becoming the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam. Osaka clearly deserved the win and played absolutely beautifully.
Historically, Williams has had problems at the US Open – all when she was losing. In 2009, she even threatened a lineswoman and was unapologetic about it. Unfortunately, the 2018 US Open final will not likely be remembered for Osaka’s incredible playing, but William’s behavior. When Osaka received the trophy, she was crying out of embarrassment and sadness, not happiness, as one should be after winning her first Grand Slam title. The crowd was booing as she was standing up on the stage, making this ceremony one to remember, and not for good reason. She handled the predicament extremely well, both on the court and during the ceremony.
By: Anna Mullens’20, Co-Junior Editor-in-Chief