Yesterday, first-time U.S. Open competitor Naomi Osaka beat long-standing champion Serena Williams, becoming the first Haitian-Japanese woman to not only play in the final match of the tournament but to win it. What should have been a match of historic proportion, the newcomer against the legend, was marred by a series of controversial code violations against Williams that many believe cost her the match and her 24th Grand Slam win.
Williams received a total of three violations during the match. The first was for coaching. Umpire Carlos Ramos believed that Williams was receiving hand signals from the stands from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. According to ITF Grand Slam rules, this amounts to a warning. The second violation was for smashing her racket after a missed shot which resulted in a point being taken from Williams. But, hold up. Countless male tennis players have thrown and smashed rackets and never so much as received a warning. Frustrated, Williams approached Ramos. "You stole a point from me and you are a thief," she accused him. This angered statement cost her a game, closing the gap between her and Osaka to just one game.
After, Williams accused Ramos of sexism. “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ For me it blows my mind,” Williams said during a press conference where she claims to have witnessed men say far worse and go unpunished. “But I’m going to continue to fight for women.” Clearly upset at the press conference, Williams knew that her loss would be women’s gain in the end. “The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person...they’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me today, but it’s going to work out for the next person,” said Williams.
Many agreed that what the violations called against Williams were unjustifiably harsh. “I’ve regrettably said worse and I’ve never gotten a game penalty,” tweeted retired U.S. tennis player Andy Roddick. His support proves Williams’ point. Men have berated umpires and none of them have received game penalties for it. “Would he have done that with a man? History has said, no. He would not have done that with a man,” explained CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. Williams said far less and was punished far worse, and therein lies the hypocrisy. She may have crossed a line, but men have been skipping rope with that line for years.
On Sunday morning, a report in the Associated Press broke that Williams has been fined a total of $17,000 for her three code violations. According to ITF Grand Slam rules, a player made be fined up to $20,000 for each violation. On Sunday, the tournament referee's office issued the following fines: $10,000 for “verbal abuse” of chair umpire Ramos, $4,000 for being warned for coaching, and $3,000 for breaking her racket, the Los Angeles Times said. The money will come out of her winnings as runner-up.
This is a breaking news story. It has been updated throughout.