I wrote an article on August 24th about Serena Williams, “American Hero.” This is quite the different story.
On Saturday, 20-year-old Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka became the first player from her country to win a Grand Slam tournament.
Yet, her would-be joyous victory was scattered, smothered, and covered with disdain like hash browns from Hell at a Waffle House in WhatInTheWorldville.
Officials for the US Open, along with the crowd, were apparently upset that 36-year-old Serena had lost. They made it clearly known to Osaka.
According to the New York Post, Naomi had dreamed of one day facing off against her idol, Williams, at the US Open.
But that dream turned into a bit of a nightmare, such that Osaka covered her face with her visor and cried at the awards ceremony.
At the beginning of the service, US Open President and Chairwoman Katrina Adams degraded Osaka’s triumph:
“Perhaps it’s not the finish we were looking for today, but Serena, you are a champion of all champions. … This momma is a role model and respected by all.”
The audience booed.
Serena wasn’t exactly a classy loser:
“I know you guys were here rooting, and I was rooting, too. But let’s make this the best moment we can, and we’ll get through it. … We’re going to get through this, and let’s be positive. So congratulations, Naomi.”
Osaka was asked if the experience of playing against her hero was as she’d imagined. She didn’t answer the question. Instead, she apologized for her win:
“I’m going to sort of differ from your question — I’m sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I’m sorry it had to end like this.”
“It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals, so I’m really glad that I was able to do that. (turning to Williams) And I’m really grateful I was able to play with you. Thank you,” Naomi said, followed by a bow to the tennis icon. Williams offered little response beyond a very slight nod.
Apparently, Serena wasn’t exactly a paragon of admirable behavior during the match. The umpire warned her to stop taking hand signals from her coach on the side. This resulted in Williams — who’s clenched 23 Grand Slam titles, belittling him multiple times and accusing him of thievery.
The Post reports:
“’You stole a point from me!’ she yelled.
“After her loss, Williams’s coach admitted to ESPN that he had, in fact, been coaching from the stands, a code violation. The warning was fair.
“Everything that followed is on Williams, who is no stranger to tantrums. Most famously, she was tossed from the US Open in 2009 after telling the line judge, ‘I swear to God I’ll take the f—king ball and shove it down your f***ing throat.’ John McEnroe was taken aback. Even Williams’s mother Oracene Price couldn’t defend her daughter’s outburst.”
Securing her Bad Loser title, at a press conference after the game, Serena blamed her defeat on sexism:
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. And for me to say ‘thief’ and for [the umpire] to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. I mean…he’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’ (laugh). For me, it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
Could this be a #MeToo tragedy? Or is it an example of someone who’s so used to winning, they don’t know how to lose?
Williams positioned herself as a martyr, having suffered for other women who may one day want to exhibit poor decorum on the court:
“I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person, that has emotions and that want to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman. And they’re gonna be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”
On one hand, this is a terrible story about the encouragement of bad behavior and the denigration of a dedicated young girl who only wanted to make her dreams come true.
On the bright side, it all concerns hitting a little yellow ball back and forth with hooped sticks.
You make the call.
Thank you for reading! What do you think of all this? Please sound off in the Comments section below.
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"I've seen other men call other umpires several things. And I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality." pic.twitter.com/QzFTixejel
— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2018