Naomi Osaka’s historic title at the U.S. Open was convincing and well deserved. But her opponent, Serena Willams, and tennis fans alike were left wondering what was going on after a bizarre circumstance cost Williams a game in the second set of Osaka’s 6-2, 6-4 win.
It was filled with outbursts from Williams — who became incensed over calls from the chair umpire — and both she and Osaka were in tears. During the award ceremony, Osaka pulled her visor down as the crowd booed.
Williams, still in tears, put her arms around Osaka in an attempt to right the situation for the 20-year-old, who says she idolizes the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
“Well, I don’t wanna be rude, she played well and this is her first Grand Slam,” Williams said after the match, as she fought back tears. “Let’s make this the best moment we can, let’s give credit where credit is due and no more booing. Congratulations Naomi!”
“Thank you to the crowd, you really are the best in the world. I really hope to play here again, it’s been a tough year but thank you so much.”
USTA prez Katrina Adams puts out a statement: “What Serena did on the podium today showed a great deal of class and sportsmanship.” pic.twitter.com/XewqjEYVde
— Ava Wallace (@avarwallace) September 9, 2018
USTA president Katrina Adams issued a statement after the match, making a point of noting Williams’s “class and sportsmanship” and calling her “an inspiration to me, personally, and a credit to our sport, win or lose.”
You cannot continue to degrade a person and expect them not to finally pounce back. @serenawilliams has consistently displayed perseverance and grace but she is not to be made a fool of. “Let this be a remind to all… I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose.” #usopen pic.twitter.com/5Vwlebh7yx
— Ryan Jamaal Swain (@RyanJamaal) September 8, 2018
Congratulations to Naomi for playing your very best today! What happened to @serenawilliams will resonate with women everywhere—especially women of color: too often, when we speak up, we are penalized. Serena, today you gave us just one more reason to admire you as the very best!
— Juliana Stratton (@RepStratton5) September 8, 2018
"You owe me an apology!"
Serena was fired up with the official in the final set of the US Open final. pic.twitter.com/r6RSbrirnV
— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2018
— 1AM Creative (@1AMcreative) September 8, 2018
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) September 8, 2018