US Open: Naomi Osaka title win overshadowed by Serena Williams controversy
Williams called chair umpire a ‘thief’ during dramatic final in New York
Naomi Osaka made history by becoming the first Japanese tennis player to win a grand slam title but her victory in Saturday’s US Open final was not the major talking point.
Osaka’s opponent, Serena Williams, was involved in a heated argument with the chair umpire Carlos Ramos early in the second set.
Ramos ruled that Williams was being coached from the stands by Patrick Mouratoglou, for which the 36-year-old received an initial code violation. Williams was also given a penalty point for racket abuse, Sky Sports reports, and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “thief”.
The BBC reports that the United States Tennis Association has backed Ramos and said he acted “in accordance to the rules”. But Williams, who was aiming to win a record-equalling 24th grand slam title, accused Ramos of sexism.
Speaking after the 6-2 6-4 loss to Osaka, Williams said: “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff.
“For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’.”
Duo in tears
In the presentation Osaka was in tears after the dramatic scenes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 24,000-capacity crowd booed the umpire’s decision and former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash told BBC Radio it “was the most bizarre match and presentation” he had ever seen.
Japan PM praises Osaka
Take nothing away from 20-year-old Osaka though. While Williams “went into meltdown”, says the BBC, Osaka stayed calm to secure the title.
On Twitter Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised Osaka for her victory and for “giving Japan a boost of inspiration at this time of hardship”.
Speaking about the scenes on court Osaka said: “I was just trying to focus. Since it was my first grand slam final, I did not want to get overwhelmed.
“Serena came to the bench and told me she had a point penalty and when she got the game penalty I didn’t know that either. I was just trying to focus on myself at that time.”
The crowd applauded Osaka for her victory and the words she said after receiving the trophy. Osaka said: “I know 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.”
“She played an amazing match,” Williams told the New York Times. “She deserved credit. She deserved to win.”