Serena Williams speaks out on her coach's claim that he was giving her signals during the US Open final
At the U.S. Open, Serena Williams hoped to take home her 24th Grand Slam, tying the record set by Margaret Court. Instead, things, uh, went a different way.
During the final, the umpire, Carlos Ramos, gave Williams a code violation for coaching. Apparently, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, gave hand gestures during play .Claiming she didn't see any signals, Williams disputed the call. "I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose," she said, and broke her racket in frustration. That cost her a point. Then she continued to argue, calling Ramos a "liar" and a thief." That cost her the game, a fine of $17,000, and perhaps, the Open.
The penalties sparked outrage on social media because these rules are enforced selectively, and players often passionately argue with officials. Many people, including tennis champ Billie Jean King, believed that a man who would not have been punished so harshly. For example, at the 2016 French open, Australian player Nick Kyrgios confronted Ramos, yelling, "That's bullsh*t. Are you kidding?" He was given a point penalty, not a game penalty.
20-year-old Japanese player Naomi Saka - who got pumped for the final by listening to Nicki Minaj and Eminem - defeated Williams, winning her first-ever Grand Slam. It should have been a euphoric moment. However, at the trophy ceremony, the crowd booed, apparently supporting Williams outburst. The 23-time-Grand Slam winner tried to comfort Saka, whispering that the crowd wasn't booing her.
When asked if she regretted breaking her racket on the court, Williams did not answer. However, she continues to deny receiving signals from her coach. "I just don't understand what he was talking about," said the tennis star, while speaking to The Sunday Project on Australia's Network Ten.
"I asked [Mouratoglou] 'what are you talking about you were coaching? We don't have signals, we've never had signals'. He said he made a motion. So I was like 'you made a motion and now you told people that you're coaching me - that doesn't make sense, why would you say that?'
"I was on the other side. I didn't see the motion. It was just a really confusing moment, I think, for him. What I'm trying to do most of all is to recover from that and move on."
Following the dramatic final, an Australian artist lampooned William's outburst, depicting her as an angry baby. However, when he drew a caricature of the African-American athlete, he exaggerated her facial features in a manner similar to racist Jim Crowe-era illustrations.
Many Twitter users condemned the offensive image, including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. "Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop," wrote Rowling.
And all of this came on the heels of Williams being banned from wearing her black catsuit. Instead, she competed in a frilly tutu. Well, maybe at the next U.S. Open, she'll return, tutu and all, and get that 24th Grand Slam.