First, the disclaimer: I don’t know jack shit about tennis, the scoring system is as incomprehensible to me as Czech grammar, and I didn’t watch the match in question.
Nonetheless, those who know me know that ignorance of a topic is not likely to prevent me from having an opinion, and my opinion in this case is that Serena Williams behaved like a spoiled brat, and the audience wasn’t any better. Both of them owe Naomi Osaka a big apology.
The start of the argument with the umpire, the way I understand it, was that he reprimanded her for cheating, i.e. getting hand signals from her coach. He was right to call her on that, he caught them red-handed, and the coach has admitted it. Now, here is where my lack of knowledge might make a slight difference. I don’t know if getting hand signals from the sidelines is a major offense or a minor offense. In baseball and football I think it’s legal, in a spelling bee it would be a disqualification.
But, Serena apparently got pissed off about it, which is ridiculous. If a cop pulls you over for failing to use your turn signal, you might think he’s being petty, but you know damn well it would be a mistake to say so.
Anyway, things escalated, with her calling him a liar and a thief (after he’d penalized her a point, and then a whole game. I think that’s a lot, but whether a game is more or less than a set, I’m not sure.)
The line that really bothers me, though, is when she told him “You’ll never be on another of my courts as long as you live.” Note, she said “my courts.” She may be the top woman player in the world, she may even be the best of all time as I’ve heard some people say, but she does not own the whole sport.
After the game, which Naomi Osaka (who I’d never heard of before today) won, the crowd booed, which was not very nice to Naomi Osaka. She’d just won a major tournament, dramatically improved her world ranking, and deserved applause.
So, how did she react? “I know the audience wanted Serena to win and I’m sorry it ended like this.” She actually apologized. For winning.
Naomi Osaka is a relative newcomer, just 20 years old. I hope she has a long and illustrious career, and eventually gets the support from the fans that she deserved today.
Serena Williams can take a hike.