Anger, boos, tears and an accusation of sexism overshadowed a remarkable victory by Naomi Osaka, a rising star who became the first tennis player born in Japan to win a Grand Slam championship.
Osaka soundly defeated her childhood idol, Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-4, in the women’s final of the United States Open on Saturday, blocking Williams from winning a record-tying 24th major singles title.
But the match will long be remembered for a series of confrontations between Williams and Carlos Ramos, the match’s chair umpire, who issued three penalties against Williams in the second set, after Osaka had established her dominance.
The first was a warning after Ramos felt Williams was receiving instructions from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, from the stands, which is against the rules. Williams was offended by the implication that she was cheating, and she demanded an apology. Later, after losing a game, she smashed her racket on the court, incurring a second penalty and the loss of a point.
Finally, after she called Ramos a “thief” for taking the point from her, Ramos cited Williams a third time, resulting in the loss of a game. Williams’s anger intensified, and she pleaded for help from the tournament referee, Brian Earley, and the Grand Slam supervisor, Donna Kelso.
But they could change nothing, least of all Osaka’s superior play and seemingly inevitable march to victory. Continue reading