Join the fastest growing Social Network Capmocracy today! Your trusted Social Network
Serena Williams vs. Naomi Osaka: How the U.S. Open Descended Into Chaos

Serena Williams vs. Naomi Osaka: How the U.S. Open Descended Into Chaos


It all began with the slightest of hand gestures by a coach in Serena Williams’s box and ended in chaos, recrimination and, oh, yes, Naomi Osaka’s remarkable upset victory.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened in the women’s final of the 2018 U.S. Open:

A Dream Matchup

Osaka, a shy, 20-year-old who was born in Japan but moved to the United States at age 3, grew up admiring and emulating Williams. She even did a school report on Williams in third grade that she was very proud of.

She admitted before the tournament began that it had long been her dream to play Williams in a Grand Slam final, and that dream came true. But surely her dream did not play out like this, in a swirl of controversy and accusations of sexism against the chair umpire, and an awkward post-match celebration that no one seemed to enjoy.

The setup for the entire controversy occurs in the first set in which Osaka, despite being 16 years younger and playing in her first Grand Slam final, was outplaying the 23-time champion — by a wide margin.

Williams played her first professional tournament two years before Osaka was born. She was expected to impose her experience, power and will on her opponent. Then Osaka served better, made fewer mistakes and ran down most of the shots that Williams made, frustrating the six-time Open champion to win the first set.

Then came the second set.

2nd Set: Osaka Serving at 0-1, 40-15

A Code Violation for Coaching

Carlos Ramos, the notoriously strict chair umpire, interjects himself into the match for the first time, calling a code violation for coaching, which is essentially a formal warning. Ramos spotted Patrick Mouratoglou, sitting in the Williams box, making what he interpreted as a coaching hand gesture (he had both hands about six inches apart moving in a forward motion that Ramos interpreted as an indication of how he wanted Williams to move). Mouratoglou later admitted he was doing it, adding that all coaches do it.

Ramos’s application of the rule was accurate, however some feel he could have shown a bit more lenience. For example, he might have issued an informal warning to Williams to tell her coach to knock it off.

Williams approached the chair and said to Ramos, “One thing I’ve never done is cheat, ever. If he gives me a thumbs up he’s telling me to, ‘Come on.’”

She added in a stern tone, “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”

Then she returned to business, but Osaka held her serve.

2nd Set: 2-1 Changeover

A Civil Conversation

During the next changeover, Williams and Ramos engaged in a civil conversation. Calling him, “umpire,” Williams explains to Ramos that she understands why he may have thought Mouratoglou was coaching, but she stressed that she never does that.

At 36, and with more championships than any player in the Open Era, Williams has often said she dislikes in-match coaching, even the legal variety on the W.T.A. level, and it would be in her interest. She has more experience and more inside understanding of the game than virtually all of her opponents. Coaching would only level the playing field.

Williams calmly said again that she doesn’t cheat, and Ramos said, “I know that.”

It was the final moment of calm, and Williams said, “OK, thank you so much.”

It was a key moment because Williams may have thought that she had convinced Ramos to reverse the call on the code violation, something which virtually never happens.

2nd Set: Williams Serving at 3-1, 30-40

A Broken Racket and Point Penalty

Williams had gained the upper hand in the second set by breaking Osaka’s serve, and it could have been a turning point for the entire match. Instead, Williams hit a backhand into the net for an unforced error, allowing Osaka to break right back and retake control of the match. Osaka exclaimed, “Come on,” to emphasize the point.

Williams’s fired her racket onto the court and destroyed it. Sascha Bajin, Williams’s former hitting partner and now Osaka’s coach, saw the angry display and pointed to the court, saying, “Hey.”

Throwing a racket is an automatic code violation, and since it was the second violation, Osaka gained a point for the next game. Ramos announced the score and then said, “Code violation racket abuse, point penalty, Mrs. Williams.”

Williams did not appear to react as she sat in her chair.

2nd Set: Osaka Serving at 2-3

‘You Owe Me an Apology’

Williams walked onto the court on the deuce side, apparently expecting the score to be 0-0. When she was told to move over to the ad court because it is 0-15, Williams approached the chair again, initially confused by the score. “This is unbelievable, every time I play here I have problems,” Williams said to Ramos.

This appeared to be a reference to her 2004 Open match against Jennifer Capriati, in which several bad calls went against Williams, and the 2009 semifinal against Kim Clijsters, when Williams was called for a foot fault at a critical juncture and threatened to shove a ball down the lineswoman’s throat.

When Ramos explained that Williams had a point penalty for smashing her racket she calmly said, “Yeah, that’s a warning.”

She continued to argue that she didn’t get coaching and implored Ramos to make an announcement to the crowd explaining just that. Then Williams’s frustration level increased and she grew angry, repeatedly saying that she did not get coaching.

As the discussion became more heated, the audience, heavily in Williams’s favor, began to boo, and then cheered Williams as she became even more demonstrative.

“You owe me an apology,” she said to Ramos, loudly emphasizing certain words. “I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right for her and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology.”

She concluded by telling Ramos that he would never umpire one of her matches again, but when the match resumed, Osaka was unfazed and held her serve to draw even, 3-3 in the second set.

2nd Set: Changeover With Osaka Leading, 4-3

‘You’re a Thief’

Osaka broke Williams’s serve again, this time with an impressive down — the-line forehand with Williams at net. Williams then continued her argument with Ramos during the changeover, with Williams sounding like an unrelenting baseball manager going after a home plate umpire.

First, she said she had already explained to Ramos that she never gets coaching.

“For you to attack my character, then something is wrong,” Williams said. “It’s wrong. You are attacking my character.”

It was difficult to hear Ramos’s response, but apparently he disputed Williams’s claim, because Williams replied, “Yes you are. You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live.”

Then she pointed at him and said, “You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology. You owe me an apology. Say it! Say you’re sorry.”

When Ramos indicated he would not apologize, Williams cut off the discussion and said, “Well, then don’t talk to me.”

But Williams resumed, adding, “How dare you insinuate that I was cheating?”

As Williams got up to return to the court, she exclaimed to Ramos, “And you stole a point from me, you’re a thief, too.”

After that, Ramos issued the third code violation, which results in a penalty of a lost game. The rules state the first violation is a warming, then loss of point, loss of game and finally loss of match. It never got to that, but it was close.

Ramos announced to the crowd, “Code violation, verbal abuse. Game penalty, Mrs. Williams,” as Williams returned to the court. The crowd, somewhat uncertain of what, exactly, was going on, began to buzz in agitation.

2nd Set: Osaka Serving at 4-3 … Make That 5-3

Serena Gets Third Code Violation, Loses a Game

Williams walked back to the court and prepared to receive Osaka’s serve, apparently unaware that she had forfeited the game and it was now her serve, trailing 3-5. It was a wild situation to happen in a Grand Slam final, and debate raged over whether Ramos was too hasty by issuing the third code violation, but it was within the rules.

With Williams in position to receive the serve, Ramos called the players over to the chair. First he explained it to Osaka, and then to Williams, who was incredulous.

“Are you kidding me, because I called you a thief?” she said. “But you stole a point from me.”

Osaka stood close to the chair for a moment, signaled something to her box, then turned and walked back to the baseline, where she tried to stay focused by bouncing up and down in the middle of the court, mostly facing away from the dispute.

Williams repeated her argument that she is not a cheater and then said, “Excuse me, I need the referee.”

Appeal to the Tournament Officials

Brian Earley, the longtime tournament referee and Donna Kelso, the Grand Slam supervisor entered from the player’s entrance at the corner of the court, and Williams made the first accusation of bias for being a woman.

While Williams appealed to Kelso, who also serves as W.T.A. supervisor, Earley climbed up to the chair to confer with Ramos, and was heard to say, as if repeating, “For calling you a thief.”

Then the discussion was among Williams, Earley and Kelso for nearly three minutes while Osaka waited.

Williams repeated that it was unfair many times “This has happened to me too many times,” she said. To lose a game for saying that? It’s not fair. I mean, it’s really not.”

That was when Williams introduced the issue of bias.

“Do you know how many other men do things that are — that do much worse than that?” she said to Kelso. “This is not fair. There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things, but if they’re men, that doesn’t happen to them.”

The fans, most of whom could not hear the discussion, began to get more agitated, with the whistling and booing mixing with jeers and invective.

Williams added to Earley and Kelso, “Because I’m a woman he’s going to take this away from me?”

Then, suddenly, her tone softened.

“I know you know it,” she said to Earley. “I know you can’t admit it, but it’s not right. I know you can’t change it, but I’m saying, it’s not right. I get the rules, but I’m just saying it’s not right.

Then, just before returning to the court she said, “It’s not fair. That’s all I have to say.”

Osaka Beats Her Idol

If the raging dispute distracted Osaka in any way, she did not show it. At 40-30, she drilled a serve out wide at 114 miles per hour. Williams tipped it with her racket, but the ball only deflected wide. Incredibly, Osaka was a first-time Grand Slam champion at 20, and the first ever from Japan, man or woman.

During what was the greatest moment of her career — if not her life — Osaka heard booing from a crowd still angry over events. Osaka gave the slightest exclamation with her fist, pulled her visor down over her face and walked to the net.

Williams met her with a smile and gave her a hug — a notable difference from the formal handshake at the net five months ago in Miami when Osaka beat her idol in their first meeting. Osaka shook Ramos’s hands, but Williams declined, and made one more comment about the apology she still expected.

A Muted Celebration

Williams and Osaka stood next to one another on the podium along with former champions Chris Evert and Billie Jean King and U.S.T.A. president Katrina Adams, but no one smiled at first. When the M.C. started to speak, the fans unleashed loud boos and Osaka pulled her visor over her face again, and wept.

Seeing that, Williams put her arm around Osaka to comfort her and said something to ease the tension. When it was her turn to speak to the crowd, she implored the fans to stop booing and to laud Osaka’s achievement.

Osaka’s brief and poignant acceptance speech underscored the over all sadness of what should have been such a happy moment for her.

“I know that everyone was cheering for her,” she told the crowd, referring to Williams. “I’m sorry it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match.”

A Call for Equality and a Calm Reflection

Williams came into her post-match news conference prepared to discuss the whole matter. One key issue was that Mouratoglou had already admitted to reporters that he was, in fact, coaching, contrary to her premise throughout the controversy. She said someone briefed her about it before she came in, and she texted her coach to get clarification. She did not seem pleased with him.

“I’m trying to figure out why he would say that,” she said. “I don’t understand. I mean, maybe he said, ‘You can do it.’ I was on the far other end, so I’m not sure. I want to clarify, myself, what he’s talking about.”

In her final statement, after a question about what she might have changed if she could go back, Williams again invoked the sexism that she referenced on court.

“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff,” she said.

“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’. Then she added, “The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman. They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”

Osaka came in after and finally had a chance to express happier feelings about the win, her parents, her coach, and how she will be received in Japan, where she will be welcomed as a hero at a tournament in Tokyo later this month.

She said she really did not know what transpired during the dispute, and insisted that she still held the same adoration for Williams, no matter what happened.

“I’m always going to remember the Serena that I love,” she said. “It doesn’t change anything for me. She was really nice to me at the net and on the podium. I don’t really see what would change.”

The only thing that really changed, is that now Osaka is a Grand Slam champion, too.



Source link

About The Author

Related posts

Leave a Reply