A 6-2, 6-4 defeat in the final of the 2018 US Open and not much fightback can be attributed to Serena Williams as she was stopped short of a record-equalling 24th major title by first-time Grand Slam finalist Naomi Osaka. In her game that is.
In her actions, Serena proved just why her titles and her victories are not all that have made her one of the greatest sports persons ever.
1. Reprimanded for Coaching
It all started in the second game of the second set in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, when umpire Carlos Ramos warned Serena for getting guidance from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who was sitting in the stands, which isn’t allowed.
Serena Williams responded to that by approaching the umpire and telling him she would ‘rather lose’ than cheat.
2. ‘You Owe Me an Apology’
In the sixth game of the second set, Serena smashed her racket on the court and was given a second violation by Ramos. This time it cost her a point and Naomi Osaka took a 15-0 lead, trailing 2-3.
Serena walked to her kit and unwrapped a new racket, but then once again approached the umpire to argue about the previous reprimand. She asked Ramos to announce on the mic that she did not cheat.
“You owe me an apology,” she said. “I have never cheated in my life!”
3. ‘You Are a Thief’
At the change of ends after the seventh game, Serena got into another argument with the umpire.
“For you to attack my character is wrong. You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you are sorry,” she said before making the statement that was detrimental in the result of the match.
“You stole a point from me, you are a thief too,” she said while getting up and returning to her side of the court. “Code violation,” Ramos announced on the mic, adding that this time he would dock her an entire game.
From a 4-3 lead in the second set, Osaka then saw the score bumped up to 5-3 in her favour.
Serena Calls Umpire Ramos ‘A Thief’ in Controversial US Open Final
4. ‘This Doesn’t Happen to Them’
Following her third reprimand, Ramos called both Serena and Osaka to the chair to explain his decision. Serena laughed in frustration and said, “Are you kidding me?” before asking for the tournament referee to be called onto the court.
Brian Earley along with a Grand Slam supervisor joined the players, and Ramos, on centre court and heart Serena out.
Serena, who had had previous standoffs with US Open officials in the past, said “this has happened to me too many times” and pointed out that her male counterparts on the tour had gotten away with saying a lot more to officials on court.
‘Always Something’: Serena Williams Previous Standoffs at US Open
5. ‘No More Booing’
The third reprimand was not overruled and Serena remained 5-3 down in the second set. Both players served one game each and Osaka went on to close the final with a 6-2, 6-4 scoreline. Her first Grand Slam title, won against a player she idolised growing up.
However, despite playing no part in the conversations between Serena and the officials, the 20-year-old was booed on court during the presentation ceremony at which point Serena stepped in, put her arm around Osaka and then urged the packed stadium to celebrate the new champion.
6. Calling Out The Double Standards
She lost her second straight Grand Slam final of the year. She lost the opportunity of tying Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam titles ever, but if there ever was a lesson to be learned on ‘victory in defeat’ it was in how Serena Williams handled the loss at her home Grand Slam.
After ensuring Naomi was feted like the champion she was at the presentation ceremony, Serena went off court and then attended the post-match press conference. All smiles, the 23-time Grand Slam champion said Naomi deserved to win the match, even adding that there was a lot she could learn from her game.
Asked if she could change anything in the match, Serena stood by her remarks on court, saying, “I can’t say I won’t call him a thief because he took a game from me”.
She also added context to her comment, saying players on the ATP circuit have been allowed to get away with a lot more.
7. ‘It’s Going to Work Out For The Next Person’
Tearing up, the 36-year-old champion added that even though her fightback didn’t see a positive outcome, at least a start had been made. “Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but its going to work for the next person,” she said.
8. Patrick Admits to ‘Coaching’
While Serena maintained that she did not ever look at her box for coaching instructions from her support staff, Patrick Mouratoglou said in an interview that he had indeed been trying to guide her during the match.
“I have to be honest, I was coaching, but I don’t think she looked at me so she didn’t even think I was,” he said.
He also defended Serena saying that the umpire should perhaps have just cautioned her at the start. “In 99 percent of the cases, he would have told Serena, ‘I’ve seen your coach do a movement and tell him to stop, otherwise you’ll have a warning. And I don’t understand why he didn’t do that, where all the other chair umpires do this all year long, including him,'” he said.
(With inputs from AP)