The US Open Debacle.

On Saturday, the women’s final for the US Open tennis tournament was held between 20 year Naomi Osaka and arguably the greatest female player of all time, Serena Williams.

Osaka won the championship 6-2, 6-4 becoming the first person of Japanese descent to win a major tennis tournament. Osaka is young, polite, softspoken, and doesn’t have an orgasmic shriek each time she hits the ball. She is just what tennis needs – a rising star for people to emulate.

Sadly, Osaka’s win will not be remembered for the actual victory, but the “controversy” surrounding it.

It all starts with Williams up 1 – 0 in the second set after losing the first set:

Chair umpire Carlos Ramos gives a code violation to the people sitting in Williams’ coaching box for “coaching.” Tennis is one of those sports where the governing body wants the matches decided on the court between the players and not by getting input from coaches. To get around the rule against coaching, coaches have taken to using hand signals. At the 0:28 mark of the above video, you can see Williams reacting to the violation saying all the coach was doing was giving her a “thumbs up.” Later, Williams makes the claim that the umpire was calling her a “cheater” by saying she was getting coaching. She even brings her young daughter into the picture saying she wants to be a “role model” and she would “rather lose than cheat.”

There’s a real problem with this outburst from Williams: her coach admitted they were giving her coaching from the stands.

After the match, in an interview with ESPN, Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, acknowledged that he had tried to signal Williams but said he didn’t think she had seen him. He added that he thinks every player gets coaching during matches.
The US Open on the Women’s Final

In its own statement, the US Open recounted the moments leading up to the warning and penalties issued to Williams and said Ramos’ decision to assess a third code violation “was final and not reviewable by the Tournament Referee or the Grand Slam Supervisor who were called to the court at that time.”

“Well, I mean, I’m honest, I was coaching. I mean, I don’t think she looked at me, so that’s why she didn’t even think I was. I was like 100 percent of the coaches on 100 percent of the matches, so we have to stop this hypocrite thing,” Mouratoglou said. “Sascha [Bajin, Osaka’s coach,] was coaching every point, too. This chair umpire was the chair umpire of most of the finals of Rafa [Nadal], and Toni’s coaching every single point, and they never gave a warning. I don’t really get it. It’s strange.”

So the coach admits he was coaching, but tries the 2nd grade excuse of “everyone does it.” He also says that he didn’t think Williams saw him, but that is contradicted by the fact that Williams herself says Mouratoglou was just giving her a “thumbs up.” How would she have known what the gesture was unless she had seen it?

In other words, Williams and her coaches were lying.

Still in the second set, Williams breaks Osaka and then follows that with a badly played game where Osaka breaks back. Like far too many athletes, Williams makes the innocent racket the brunt of her anger and she smashes it onto the court. In years past, tennis players did this all the time and it got so bad that the rule makers put in a rule against that type of act. It is called “racket abuse” and is a code violation as well.

Tennis has an escalating penalty for each successive code violation. The first violation results in a type of “warning” with no real penalty. The second code violation results in a point to the opponent. The third violation and each successive violation is a game being awarded to the opponent.

As the racket smashing was the second violation, Osaka was awarded a point to start the next game and that did not sit well with Williams.

After losing the game, and during a changeover, Williams starts to yell at the umpire, claiming he had called her a “cheater,” (he hadn’t) and that he “owed” her an apology (he didn’t.) (See 3:48 of the video.)

She demanded an apology from Ramos because in her mind he had “attacked her character” by “insinuating she was cheating.” Once again, this is all so surreal because the umpire never said she was cheating or that she was a “cheater.” What the umpire correctly ruled was that Williams had gotten coaching from the stands – a fact that her own coach admitted.

As an official, Ramos takes the abuse from Williams as she continues to demand an apology, accuses him of something he did not do, and then tells him “don’t talk to me.” While that might have been a great way to end the conversation, Williams continues to yell at him for calling her a “cheater” saying (3:48)

I explained that to you. For you to attack my character, there’s something is wrong. It’s wrong. You attacking my character…. yes you are….you owe me an apology. You will never ever ever ever be on a court of mine as long as you live.

You are the liar.

When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it.

Then at 5:00 in the video, Williams says:

You stole a point from me. You’re a thief too.

At 5:05 Ramos makes the correct call and says:

Code violation. Verbal abuse. Game penalty Mrs. Williams.

At that point Williams really goes off.

Williams is being a hypocrite here. While she demanded an apology for a perceived attack on her character that was not said by umpire Ramos, Williams felt she was perfectly within her rights to attack the character of the umpire.

Many of our staff will tell you that as sports officials, you do take a lot of abuse. Most of the time, the abuse centers around calls and differences in perception about a call. However, the moment a coach or player says “you’re” or “you are,” the next few words will determine the course the official takes and it is very seldom good for the player / coach. “You’re a thief,” cannot be tolerated by any sports official nor should it be.

After the game penalty is assessed, Osaka goes on to win the set, the match and the tournament.

In what should have been the happiest moment of her athletic career, Osaka was reduced to tears on the victory stand by the crowd booing the results.

Osaka states that she had always dreamed of playing Williams in the finals of the US Open and that dream, much less the victory was tainted and scarred by Williams herself.

No one but Williams lied to the umpire who had correctly assessed a violation for coaching from the stands. No one but Williams slammed her racket down like a petulant child and breaking the frame which got her the second code violation. No one but Williams berated an umpire and continued to berate him for the perceived injustice of an “attack” on her character, and then attacked his character.

Three violations, all of which can be laid at the feet of Williams.

After the match in the press conference, Williams continued to not accept any responsibility for what had happened.

“He took a point from me after he alleged I was cheating, and I wasn’t cheating. I had a good conversation with him: ‘You know my character. You know me really well.’ I don’t even call for an on-court coach. He said, ‘I understood what you are saying,'” Williams explained after the match.

“Then when I sat down, I said, ‘Just to be clear, I can understand what you saw. It may have looked [like] I was getting coaching, but that’s what I do. I’d rather lose than have to cheat to win.’ I don’t need to cheat to win. He was cool. He was like, ‘I get it.’ We were on the same page, we understood each other …”

“You definitely can’t go back in time,” Williams said when asked if she would change anything about the match. “I can’t sit here and say I wouldn’t say he’s a thief, because I thought he took a game from me.

“But 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.’ (emphasis ours)

Instead of taking the blame for the entire incident, Williams decided to play the sexism card. It wasn’t that she was penalized for her actions. In her mind she was penalized because she was a woman.

Furthermore, even if she was correct, (and she wasn’t) she was basically saying that she was fighting for the “right” to act like an entitled jerk just like men sometimes do.

(For the record, commentators all said that they could not remember a time when a male was disqualified for abusing an umpire post John McEnroe because once the men got the second violation, they never abused the umpire like Williams had done.)

Sadly, abuses has been heaped upon the umpire with no real examination of Williams’ actions. Most of the complaints have been centered around the idea that this was a final, or that you don’t give a game penalty to Serena Williams. Taken to it’s logical conclusion, that means that those folks believe that finals should be refereed rather than the way they have been refereed throughout the tournament and that Williams should get preferential treatment because she is Serena Williams. In other words, this was not about “equality” in the officiating of matches and players. It was about inequality in the officiating of matches and players.

There is no doubt that Williams is a great tennis player. We won’t dispute that. However, her actions on Saturday were those of a child and not those of a champion she and others claim she is.

When champions get knocked down, they get back up and fight harder. When champions are caught doing something wrong, they don’t lie and blame others. Champions are not hypocrites.

Williams may be a winner, but in this case, she was not a champion.

2 Responses to “The US Open Debacle.”

  1. Heltau says:

    Well, guess tennis has now entered the third world crap hole area of the world.
    Almost all sports are just turning into a third world crap hole, not worth watching or supporting any longer.

  2. Cowpill says:

    It is a shame that a grown woman in professional sports throws a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way