By Lucius Harvin, Contributor
The 2018 U.S. Open Women’s Final was supposed to be a finale of intrigue. Serena Williams, going for her 24th grand slam, her first as a mother, against the youngster Naomi Osaka, who was aiming to become the first Japanese woman ever to win a Grand Slam.
However, what was supposed to be a great match turned ugly early in the second set. After Osaka won the first set and was in control early in the second, Portuguese chair umpire Carlos Ramos issued Serena a coaching violation.This means that Serena’s box was giving her signals in order to give her an advantage, which according to the 2018 Grand Slam rulebook, is not allowed. Serena questioned the umpire and stated that she was not paying attention to her coach and it was not in her character to cheat.
Later in the second set, after double faulting to give Osaka the game, Serena smashed her racket and was given another code violation. However, when an umpire gives a player a second violation they automatically lose a point in the next game. Serena, even more furious, demanded the umpire correct his decision and announce to the crowd that he “stole a point” from her.
As the debate went on Serena accused the umpire of being a thief and asserting himself into the match too much. For saying the word thief, Ramos issued his third violation, thus giving Osaka a game and making the score 5-3 in the second set to give her a sizeable lead.
Serena immediately called out the head officials of the tournament and argued with them that male players say way worse. When the chaos calmed down for the players to play again, a visibly shaken Serena looked out of sorts and Osaka took the match to defeat her childhood hero on the biggest stage.
However, instead of being filled with joy for winning her first major, Osaka was in tears and rarely smiled as the boos from the crowd rained down on Arthur Ashe Stadium. At the press conference, Serena Williams accused the umpire of sexism and stated that she was treated unfairly because she is a woman. The statement drew support from many former players and fans, but was also the subject of criticism as many outsiders viewed Williams as overreacting. So the question is: was the reaction deserved or unnecessary?
The first violation for coaching was understandable , even though it probably should not have been handed down in a final. The chair umpire, Ramos, is known as a stickler for these rules and has called untimely coaching violations on male players as well (including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal).
The second violation,smashing the racket, is called 100 percent of time. Whenever you smash a racket at any level in tennis you are given a violation. However, the controversy comes with the third violation for verbal abuse.
It is true that Serena was badgering the umpire to an extreme point, but the word “thief” should not be given a game penalty. Children say that word all the time and are not punished, but on the biggest stage, at a crucial moment, the umpire chose to hand down the violation. It is true that A plenty of male players say colorful four letter words without consequences, yet a world-renowned athlete, on the biggest stage, was not given the same treatment. There is no doubt that umpire Carlos Ramos is a great official, but in this case he wronged Serena and it ultimately deprived Naomi Osaka of the celebration of her first Grand Slam moment.