Serena Williams has made headlines after a dramatic loss against 20 year old Naomi Osaka in the US Open. During the historic match, the tennis star was accused of cheating by the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos. The umpire believed she was receiving coaching from the box. Williams did not take the accusation lightly. Williams heatedly responded, “I understand why you may have 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.”
Williams was then further outraged by a point deduction after smashing her racket in frustration. The umpire and athlete resumed the argument as Williams declared, “You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life.” Later on, while again defiantly demanding an apology, Williams told Ramos, “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.” Ramos then gave Williams a third code violation for ‘verbal abuse.’ Williams, now near tears, addressed Women’s Tennis Association supervisor Donna Kelso saying, “This is not fair. This has happened to me too many times. You know how many other men do things — they do much worse than that. This is not fair,” Williams continued. “There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things and because they are men that does not happen to them.” Ultimately, the pro will be fined $17 000 for the multiple violations.
After the chaotic loss, Williams addressed the incident in a press conference stating that she believed the violations were the result of sexism. The star also stated that she hoped her actions would be beneficial for the next woman player who “has emotions and wants to express themselves.” The match has sparked a furious debate surrounding the treatment of male and female athletes. Many have taken to social media to applaud Williams for her act of defiance. The incident has highlighted the long-standing sexist trope that female emotion is often deemed ‘hysterical’ and ‘irrational’ while male athletes who display the same emotion are excused for their passion and unrelenting competitive spirit. Despite many’s encouraging responses, there were many who defended Ramos’s decision while admonishing Williams for unruly behavior.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King took to her Twitter account to share her take on Williams’ actions. “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. More voices are needed to do the same,” she declared.