Controversy surrounds the US Open


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Christian Dames, Editor-In-Chief

Saturday, September 8, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka faced off in the women’s singles at the U.S. Open. Osaka managed to take the win as the first Japanese player (male or female) to win a major championship. However, this momentous occasion is not what the match will be remembered for.

Osaka won the first set of the match 6-2. Williams was serving in the first game of the second set and was up 40-15 when she was awarded a code violation warning for coaching. She won that game and was serving up 3-1 when she double faulted twice and threw her racket to the ground, resulting in a code violation and a point loss.

In the second set, the two players were on even serves when Williams started having arguments with the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos. The result of the continued arguments with Ramos, Williams was given a third code violation, which came with a game penalty. This allowed Osaka to win the second set and the match.

The controversy stemmed from Williams’ outbursts. Rather than accepting the warnings, Williams chose to fight Ramos on it. She pushed him to apologize, calling him a “thief” and a “liar”. Additionally she argued that she did not receive coaching, stating that she was a mother and would not “cheat to win”.

Following the match, fans booed at the young Osaka, who even felt the need to apologize for winning in the match. Williams did tell the crowd to stop booing, but afterwards had a few words to say about the match. Williams accused Ramos of being sexist when he gave her the three code violations.

“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” Williams said. “I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality. For me to say thief and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark.”

However, the controversy stemmed from the fact that this statement was made at the wrong place and at the wrong time. It is no secret that sexism does exist in the game, but to say that sexism occurred during this match in particular is unfounded. There was no evidence that Ramos was sexist in any way towards Williams. Rather he made the right calls and when Williams decided to fight him on it, he took action.

Ramos is a top tier umpire, who is rather strict when it comes to rules. He has called out male tennis players in the same manner as Williams, an example being the time when Ramos penalized Andy Murray for saying “stupid umpiring” (a statement tame in comparison to Williams’).

If someone of Williams’ caliber cannot compose herself on the court and then backtracks claiming it was all for women’s rights, what does that mean for other women’s arguments about equality? It demeans what women have to say about equality, especially when Williams could have simply accepted the warnings and continued playing. She may have even come back and won, instead she has let controversy taint this year’s U.S. Open.

As the U.S. Open has drawn to a close, Williams will be fined a total of $17,000 from her $1.85 million runner-up prize money for her three code violations. While it should be a momentous time for Osaka, it is truly unfortunate that her groundbreaking victory will forever be shadowed by the controversy surrounding Williams and her statements about the match.