This year the US Open Final played between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The day after the tennis match, upon hearing of the controversy surrounding it, I was scrolling through articles about it. Of the top 12 articles I found, only one focused on Osaka’s victory.
Naomi Osaka was an underdog. Aged just 20, she had never won a grand slam. She was to play Serena Williams, the greatest female tennis player of all time – A veteran with 23 grand slams under her belt.
The first set was fully deserved by Osaka, who won it 6 – 2. But the second set was a different story. After being accused of being coached from the side lines – Serena Williams received a warning form umpire Ramos. After the match, this accusation of coaching was proven to be true with Patrick Mouratoglou admitting to it. Regardless of whether or not Williams took the coaching or even saw it, there had to be a penalty. Mouratoglou was cheating.
There had to be a penalty. Mouratoglou was cheating
Soon after, Williams threw her racket in frustration after losing a game. A move that you see many tennis players across the board make, male or female, rarely is anyone penalized for it. Yet, Williams got docked a point. Finally, as the second set was drawing to a close, Williams called Ramos a ‘thief’ during an outburst she had at the umpire. Ramos, in line with tennis protocol, saw this as a third strike, and took away a game.
Taking the article back in the direction of Osaka. Before William’s deduction, Osaka was still winning. She had already broken Williams, and it was clear that she was the frontrunner in this match. But as she won match point in the 10th game of the second set, instead of cheers there were only jeers. There were tears from Osaka and her box. Whether or not they were tears of joy, it is hard to tell. Even as she accepted her champion’s trophy, there were more tears. As she struggled through her winning speech, all she felt she could do was apologize for winning.
Of the top 12 articles I found, only one focused on Osaka’s victory
One of the things many people believe about the match was that there were double standards. That if a man had done the exact things Williams had done, nothing much would have come of it. Yes, the umpire was following the rules of the game, so Serena should have been penalized. But, what should come of this is that similar action should be taken against every tennis player – if that’s not the case, then we have a big problem.
Navratilova, a tennis legend, spoke out about the match saying that, ““It’s difficult to know, and debatable, whether Ms. Williams could have gotten away with calling the umpire a thief if she were a male player.” Navratilova acknowledged that Serena was out of line, but that Tennis itself is too.
The deserved winner of this match is Naomi Osaka, but the loser was not Serena Williams
As someone who has played tennis since the age of 7, both competitively and recreationally, I feel I understand the emotions that come with a match. Sometimes all you want to do is throw your racket in frustration when the game isn’t going your way. Or yell, and make the problem someone else’s fault – exactly as Serena Williams did. But tennis is a game of rules and gracious behaviour – so if you step out of line, you should be punished. Male or female.
The deserved winner of this match is Naomi Osaka, but the loser was not Serena Williams. The loser was Tennis as a sport. Unless the game proves from now on that there are no double standards – and that men get penalized for breaking the rules of the game, just as Serena did, then Tennis is at a serious loss.