Serena Williams lost in the U.S. Open women’s final to Naomi Osaka yesterday. But the big story from the final ended up being not about the match itself but about her comments on sexism in the sport.
In the second set, the 23-time Grand Slam winner received a penalty from chair umpire Carlos Ramos when he thought she was communicating with her coach through hand signals.
Williams received a game penalty after smashing her racquet and called out Ramos on the court in a rare flash of anger.
“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.”
While Williams comforted her opponent after the crowd began to boo during the awards presentation ceremony, the star brought attention to the differences between acceptable language for male and female players in a press conference following the tournament.
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“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. And I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality,” she said.
The 36-year-old has received support from the broader tennis community.
Former No. 1 Billie Jean King — who brought attention to inequalities in the tennis realm with her 1973 Battle of the Sexes match — tweeted her views on the matter.
“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ & and there are no repercussions. Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard,” she wrote.
The women’s final marks is the latest in a recent wave of criticism regarding gender inequities in the sport.
In an earlier U.S. Open round, Alizé Cornet was penalized for removing her shirt on the court after she realized it was on backward — something a male player would have been allowed to do.
And Williams found herself at the center of press coverage after the French Open changed its dress code policies, banning the Nike catsuit she wore at this year’s tournament to increase blood circulation in the wake of post-pregnancy health issues.
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