Japanese newcomer Naomi Osaka defeated legendary tennis pro, Serena Williams, in a shocking end to a US Open that seemed tailor-made for a Williams comeback.
But Serena Williams isn’t quietly accepting her defeat. In a series of comments made both during and after the match Saturday night, Williams accused professional tennis of rampant sexism and blamed a line judge, who called her out for receiving coaching from the sidelines, for discriminating against her because she is female.
During the match, according to CNN, line judge Carlos Ramos handed Williams a series of code violations for receiving hand signals and coaching from the sidelines. Williams’ coach later admitted to catching Williams’ attention, but not until after Serena Williams earned other penalties for smashing her racket in frustration and for hurling “verbal abuse” at the referee.
As the pair took the podium to receive their awards, the crowd booed Osaka, and even the commentators tried to soothe Williams in defeat, clearly buying into her feminist rhetoric, leaving Osaka in tears and apologizing for her own earned victory.
In the press conference that followed, Williams tried to play off her loss as the result of abject sexism on the part of both Ramos and professional tennis, suggesting that tennis lionizes players like John McEnroe — the “bad boy” of tennis who earned scorn for his on-court behavior — and claimed she was “fighting for women’s rights,” not just for herself but for Osaka, who out-played her.
“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,” she said.
She continued: “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
Plenty of female commentators piled on, with few daring to criticize Williams, not just for her on-court behavior, but her on-court play.
— The Cut (@TheCut) September 9, 2018
Astute conservative commentator Larry Elder was one of the first to call out Williams’ supporters.
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) September 9, 2018
Osaka remains the winner of the match.