Sexism is not the problem, Serena, you are


Courtesy of DNA India

Serena Williams was assessed three penalties during her U.S. Women’s Open final against Naomi Osaka, which lead to her causing an outburst.

Preston Hooker, Staff Writer

Tennis legend Serena Williams made headlines on Saturday, Sep. 8 with her outburst during the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open final versus 20-year-old phenom Naomi Osaka that eventually led to her being fined $17,000.

Williams burst into a fiery rage after being assessed three penalties by chair umpire Carlos Ramos, the second one costing her a point and the third costing her a whole game. She received the first warning for receiving in-game coaching signals from French coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

The second warning was assessed for “racquet abuse” due to Williams smashing her tennis racket during the second set. This surprised Williams, and ignited her outburst. She emotionally exclaimed to Ramos, “This is unbelievable. Every time I play here I have problems.“ In addition to that, she said, “I have a daughter, and I stand for what’s right for her, and I never cheated. You owe me an apology. You will never do another one of my matches!”

A few more games passed, and as Osaka was preparing to serve, Serena went back in on Ramos, calling him a “liar” and telling him that he owes her an apology. When the apology didn’t come, Williams couldn’t stop herself, saying, “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.” This is when Ramos hit Williams with her third penalty, one that cost her a game.

After Williams was assessed the penalty, she won the next game, but Osaka finished her off by winning the game after that. However, the crowd felt Williams’ anger and decided to boo Osaka, robbing her of the amazing feeling she should’ve been able to experience after winning her first major championship. She was put in a nightmarish situation, watching Williams (who she has stated was her tennis idol growing up) have a meltdown and hearing boos from the crowd, all Osaka could do was pull her visor over her face as the camera recorded tears streaming down her face.

Believe it or not, these were not Serena Williams’ most outrageous actions of the day. As she was talking to U.S. Open Director Brian Ealey, she decided to immediately blame her actions on an act of sexism by Ramos.

“You know how many other men do things that are… much worse than that. This is not fair,” Williams said. “But because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re gonna take this away from me? That is not right.”

While sexism is a problem that should be acknowledged when it is present, this was not a case of sexism. This was a case of a tennis superstar and role model breaking rules, losing her temper, acting like a child, and taking no responsibility for it. In no way did this event have anything to do with the fact that Serena Williams is a female.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, while acknowledging that he thought that Serena Williams was the greatest female tennis player of all time, did not agree that sexism played a part in her receiving the penalties.

“As we talk about this specific incident in question, Serena Williams was wrong,” Smith said. “Somebody has to say it, so I will. The reality is that… when Serena Williams brought the issue of gender and sexism into the argument, that’s where she lost.”

In fact, Ramos is known for being a strict enforcer of rules, even when it comes to legendary male tennis players. Former tennis official Richard Ings pointed out a separate instance in which Ramos penalized male tennis legend John McEnroe for a similar infraction.

On top of that, men were penalized much more heavily in the U.S. Open than women were, receiving 86 code violations as opposed to just 22 assessed to women. To say this is an issue of gender is not only immature, but it is wrong on many levels.

Serena Williams not only made a fool out of herself, but she deprived Naomi Osaka of the incredible feeling she deserved for winning the U.S. Women’s Open final. Even if Williams had not been assessed the one game penalty, it is very likely that Osaka still would have won. She already won the first set before all of this went down, and she was up 4-3 in the second set before Williams received the penalty.

The bottom line here is that Williams has to acknowledge her role in the events that took place during the championship. She wouldn’t have been penalized at all if she had just kept her composure after receiving the first warning. As one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a role model for many young women, she has to set a better example.