Controversy Surrounds Women’s Final at U.S. Open

September 9, 2018 by Noah Gagnon
Naomi Osaka kisses the U.S. Open women’s trophy after defeating Serena Williams in two sets on Saturday

This year’s women’s final at the U.S. Open was unlike any other seen in the past. It was one that saw crowds booing and arguments between Serena Williams, her coach and the umpire. All over a simple thumbs-up sign that the umpire took as coaching.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium was packed with spectators on hand to witness Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka battle out for the championship. Williams was trying to win her twenty-fourth Grand Slam title, Osaka was trying to win her first.

The problems began when Carlos Ramos, the chair umpire issued a warning to Williams that advised from coaches is not permitted. Williams took exception to the warning, and it only a few games later that Ramos issue a second warning to Williams for smashing her racket. Ramos drew fire from the star who called him a thief for taking away a point, and that ultimately cost her a game.

What became apparently clear is that the issues stemming from Ramos put Williams off her game Osaka won the first set 6-2 and quickly took the lead in the second set winning 6-4 and becoming the only player from Japan to win a singles Grand Slam title. However, it will be one that is hotly contested and remembered.

After the second set, Osaka met Williams at the net and gave her a hug. The crowds were not happy with many jeers heard throughout the stadium as Osaka was crowned champion and Williams wiped tears in what was an awkward situation for all.

Williams said that she felt bad because both her and Osaka were crying, both unhappy with how the match played out and the actions of Ramos. Williams added,

“I You know, she just won. I’m not sure if they were happy tears or they were just sad tears, because of the moment. I felt like, ‘Wow, this isn’t how I felt when I won my first Grand Slam.’ I was like, ‘Wow, I definitely don’t want her to feel like that. Maybe it was the mom in me that was like, ‘Listen, we’ve got to pull ourselves together here.”’

U.S. Open

After the conclusion of the women’s final, the World Tennis Association (WTA) issued a statement congratulating both Osaka and Williams for making the finals and an additional congratulations to Osaka for winning her first Grand Slam. The WTA added that there were matters that will be looked at that took place during the final, however for tonight, it is time to celebrate, both of which have great integrity

Saturday’s final was just one of a number of conflicts that Williams has had with officials at the U.S. Open. Those conflicts began in 2004 after an umpire made an incorrect call that saw the introduction of replay technology. Williams also had a conflict at the 2009 U.S. Open and again in 2011.

Osaka, who is sixteen years younger idolizing Williams growing up in Japan and even snapped a selfie at one tournament several years earlier. This was the biggest age difference between two finalists at a Grand Slam event in decades.

For Osaka, she knew Williams was playing on her home-turf per say and stated to the crowd,

“I know that everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this.”

What was clear was the frustration that Williams felt as she was unable to play at the same level she did earlier. Adding to that is that Osaka is coached by a former hitting partner of Williams and scored more aces than Williams. She also had a faster serve and has less errors saving break point five out of six times.

While the back and forth between the umpire and Williams distracted the star attraction, it did not distract Osaka, and that was the key difference. Osaka kept her focus on the game and continued to push Williams furthering her frustration.

Commenting on the warning relating to coaching from Ramos, Williams coach Mouratoglou said,

“I never had any warning in my career for coaching. Strange to do that in a Grand Slam final. Second, we all know that all the coaches coach at every match, all year long, from the first of January all the way to the 31st of December. We all know it.”

While Ramos called both players to the chair to offer an explanation and subsequent penalty against Williams, Williams laughed and requested to speak to Brian Earley, the tournament referee. After entering the court with a Grand Slam supervisor, Ramos decision was supported.

In post-match interviews, Williams stated,

“To lose a game for saying that is not fair. There’s a lot of men out there that have said a lot of things, and because they are men, that doesn’t happen.”

The loss of Saturday was the second back-to-back defeat for Williams, with her first being at this year’s Wimbledon. The tour now heads to Tokyo for the Toray Pan Pacific Open. Bettors wanting to get a head start on the Pan Pacific will find a list of highly rated Canadian friendly tennis betting sites, all offering generous promotions for tennis and other professional sports.