Serena Williams totally lost her head in the US Open final as her incredible outburst aimed at Umpire Carlos Ramos overshadowed Naomi Osaka’s first ever Grand Slam title.
The 20-year-old became the first ever Japanese Major singles champion after winning 6-2, 6-4 but the contest will be remembered for the total meltdown of her opponent, whose abuse of Ramos saw her—correctly—docked a game and flirt with disqualification.=
Through all the chaos Osaka kept her nerve, and served it out with remarkable sangfroid despite the mayhem in the Arthur Ashe Stadium. However, she was left in tears as her triumph was met with a chorus of boos, even if not directed at her.
The whole incident had been reminiscent of Williams’s loss of control on the same arena when she threatened to ram a ball down a line judge’s throat in 2009.
The trouble started when her coach was called for giving hand signals illegally in the first set, and then spiraled when she slammed her racket into the ground when broken back for 3-2 in the second, after which she was given a point penalty.
She repeatedly insulted the umpire, calling him a liar and a thief and demanding an apology. He duly docked her a game after the third code violation, leaving her at 3-5, from which she could not recover.
It detracted from a magnificent performance from the American-raised Japanese player, and made for an embarrassing trophy handover, at which Williams was described as a ‘role model’. Not in this particular case she wasn’t.
Ramos, a highly experienced official, had little alternative, given the abuse that was being thrown his way from Williams, who also angrily pointed her finger at him.
“I don’t cheat, I would rather lose,” she had initially said, constantly demanding an apology and also remonstrating that she had a daughter as if that was relevant. The thief accusations started coming at 2-3 down in the second as she started riding the violation escalator in earnest.
Boos rang out around the stadium – most seemingly in sympathy with her – as she brought gender into the argument, now remonstrating with tournament Referee Brian Earley, who she summoned to the court.
“You’ll never sit on a court with me as long as you live!” was another threat to the umpire, who was only following long-established procedures. Williams had herself broken for 3-1 in the second, firing herself up after Ramos spotted gesticulations from Patrick Mouratoglou.
He later embarrassed himself by blaming the umpire for wanting to get too involved, while his player embarked on a rant about sexism in her post-match press conference, despite admitting Ramos has been a ‘great umpire’ in her previous matches.