When the U.S. Open opened, Serena Williams seemed to be on track for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title. But instead, the final match between Williams and Japan's Naomi Osaka was dominated by headlines about Williams' match with umpire Carlos Ramos.
The row began after umpire Carlos Ramos handed her a code violation warning for coaching after ruling that her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was giving her hand signals from the stands. She told Ramos that wasn't taking coaching from him and thought the violation warning was unfair.
After losing the fifth game, Williams smashed her racket, and again given a code violation and docked a point by officials.
Before the sixth game began, Williams tried arguing her case with tournament officials in a row that was caught on camera.
"This is unbelievable, every time I play here I have problems. That's a warning. I didn't get coaching, I didn't get coaching. I didn't get coaching. You need to make an announcement I didn't get coaching.
"I don't cheat, I didn't get coaching. How can you say that? You owe me an apology, you owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what's right for her and I have never cheated. And you owe me an apology."
During a break between games, Williams and Ramos got into it again as she asks for an apology.
"For you to attack my character, something is wrong. It's wrong. You attacking my character, yes you are. You owe me an apology. You will never ever ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are a liar.
"When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you're sorry. Then don't talk to me, don't talk to me.
That's when Williams accused Ramos of stealing a point from her, calling him a thief. That prompted Ramos to penalize Williams, citing verbal abuse.
The tennis player attempts to make her case to other tournament officials to no avail. The game penalty stands, leaving Williams 5-3 down in the second set. She holds her serve to make it 5-4. Osaka then holds serve to win her first grand slam, 6-2 6-4.
At a press conference following the match, Williams didn't shy away from her comments on the court.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality,” she said. “For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was sexist.
“He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’. For me it blows my mind.”
Adding insult to injury, the Associated Press reports that Williams was also fined $17,000 after being issued three code violations during the U.S. Open finale.
The tournament referee's office fined Williams $4,000 for the coaching warning, $3,000 for smashing her racket, and another $10,000 for the "verbal abuse" that she directed at umpire Carlos Ramos, the United States Tennis Association said.
The fines will be deducted from Williams's winnings of $1.85 million she earned as runner-up.
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