Minutes after receiving a game penalty for verbal abuse against the chair umpire, Serena Williams lost the U.S. Open Women’s Final against Naomi Osaka on Saturday.
Williams, 36, was given a violation from chair umpire Carlos Ramos for illegal coaching from her player box during the first set. She told Ramos, “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”
Then, after receiving the game penalty for court violation, Williams told Ramos, “You will never, ever, ever be on another 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. Say you’re sorry. … And you stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too!”
Once the match had concluded, Williams didn’t shake the umpire’s hand and she continued demanding an apology as the crowd roared with boos.
During the post-match trophy ceremony, Williams addressed the crowd, saying, “Well, I don’t want to be rude, I don’t want to do questions. [Osaka] played well, this is her first Grand Slam. I know you guys were here rooting. Let’s make this the best moment we can. Let’s not boo anymore. We’re gonna get through this and we’re gonna be positive. No more booing!”
Fighting back tears after the match, Osaka, 20, said, “I know that everybody was cheering for her. I’m sorry it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match.”
Japanese rising star Osaka was seeded 20th ahead of Saturday’s match. Williams entered the tournament ranked 17th.
This isn’t the only time Williams has had run-ins with game officials. In 2009, she was given a point penalty at match point after an altercation with a lineswoman. Williams, who had been given a code violation for breaking her racquet earlier in the match, had an outburst after the lineswoman had called a foot fault against her. After review by the umpire, Williams was given a second code violation, leading to her loss against Kim Clijsters.
Leading up to Saturday’s final, Williams defeated Magda Linette and bested German player Carina Witthöft before facing her sister Venus Williams in the third round. After, Williams said in an interview that she worked “really, really hard” to prepare for the Grand Slam tournament.
“You know, I’ve worked really, really hard this past three months, four months, especially the past eight weeks and hopefully everything will keep paying off,” said Williams. “That’s just life, you gotta keep going no matter how many downs you have, or how many ups you have you have to keep working hard, and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”
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After giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia on Sept. 1, 2017, via emergency cesarean section, Williams had a near-death experience involving pulmonary embolism — forcing her to spend the next six weeks in bed.
A rough return to the sport followed, with Williams losing the Wimbledon Ladies’ Single Final to German player Angelique Kerber in July.
Whether she was victorious or not on Saturday, Williams said she was proud of herself for the way she played in the tournament.
“A year ago, I was fighting for literally my life at the hospital after I had the baby. Every day I step on this court, I am grateful that I have an opportunity to play this sport,” she told ESPN. “No matter what happens in any match — semis, finals — I just feel like I’ve already won.”
And ahead of their match-up, Osaka was asked to send a message to Williams, and she gushed simply, “I love you.”
This would’ve marked Williams’ seventh U.S. Open win, meaning she would have tied for the most Grand Slam singles titles of all time with tennis legend Margaret Court.