Serena Williams' Broken Tennis Racket from Controversial 2018 U.S. Open Final Up for Auction
The racket — a Wilson Blade — is listed by Goldin Auctions at an opening bid of $2,000 as part of 1,600 sports memorabilia items available. Ken Goldin, who founded the auction house, told the New York Times of the actual expected selling price, “I think the low end would be $10,000, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes to $25,000 or $50,000.”
The 2018 championship match between Williams, 38, and Naomi Osaka, 22, was marred by a verbal altercation between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who gave the 23-time Grand Slam champion three separate on-court violations. Williams was penalized for illegal coaching, breaking her racket and verbal abuse, and later suggested that the umpire’s actions were motivated by sexism.
Williams originally gave the broken racket to U.S. Open ball boy Justin Arrington-Holmes, he told the Times, but he later sold it for $500 to a collectibles store in New York City.
Holmes — who has long been a ball boy at the Open — noted that both Williams and her sister Venus Williams have always been friendly to him.
“A lot of players are nice, but some, like Serena and Venus, care a little more and say hello and make an effort to learn your name and create a relationship,” said Holmes, 22, to the Times.
The racket was later sold by the collectibles store, and is now being put up for auction by an anonymous party.
“Looking back I wish I’d had someone help me with the process,” said Holmes. “I was not familiar with how any of this works. I just wanted to get rid of it.”
Nearly a year after the match, the tennis superstar shared her side of the story in a first-person essay in Harper’s Bazaar for their August cover story , revealing that she sent Osaka — who won — an apology letter.
“In the end, my opponent simply played better than me that day and ended up winning her first Grand Slam title,” Williams said. “I thought back to my first Grand Slam. It’s the one you remember best; it’s supposed to be the most special. This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic.”
“Not only was a game taken from me but a defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player, something she should remember as one of the happiest memories in her long and successful career,” she continued. “My heart broke.”