Serena Williams Receives a Code Violation at the US Open

By, Rani B. ’21

In the US Open Women’s Singles Final in early September, 20-year-old Naomi Osaka played phenomenal tennis and defeated Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4 in the finals of the US Open. During the second set of the match, Williams received a code violation for coaching from the match’s chair umpire, Carlos Ramos. Later, her coach admitted that he had tried to coach Williams but defended his actions, saying that it is a common practice. This penalty began a series of setbacks that Williams suffered as Osaka dominated on the court, and Williams got increasingly frustrated.

After the coaching violation, tensions eased as Williams started to make a comeback, but Williams then played a poor game and smashed her racket on the ground in a rage, showing bad behavior. Ramos gave her a one-point since it was her second violation. Williams confronted Ramos and accused him of being a thief. These accusations are what prompted him to give her a verbal abuse violation and a one-game penalty. Williams furiously accused Ramos and other officials of sexism and asserted that men are not penalized despite routinely behaving poorly on the court. In total, Williams racked up $17,000 in fines from code violations from the match.

Despite all the drama, Naomi Osaka became the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title. Osaka’s victory was booed by the crowd as many of Williams’ fans were looking forward to her record-tying 24th Grand Slam trophy. However, Williams quieted the crowd and comforted Osaka; both shed tears of sadness and joy as Williams told the crowd to “make this the best moment we can.” Williams exemplified great behavior in trying to make the best of the situation that she could in the face of so many setbacks and penalties against her.

This controversial match had tennis fans from all over taking sides by defending Williams for speaking out against the sexist calls she received or by calling out Williams for her unsportsmanlike and unruly behavior. Although Williams’ behavior exemplified bad sportsmanship in some respects, she also stood up for herself and all women who are held to a double standard. Pardis K. ’21 said that she thinks that “Serena may have been able to control her anger in a more appropriate way, [but] I personally think that her anger was justified, due to unfair double standards between men and women and that men can lash out with little to no consequence.” Athena B. ’20 said that she thinks that “if a male player were to do the same thing Serena did, the male player would not have gotten the same punishment or be treated the same way, but when Serena spoke out, people viewed her as a disgrace. I think this incident just emphasized the inequality that is embedded within sports.” The US Open women’s final showed that it is essential for athletes to maintain their composure, but also balance it with speaking out if they see an unfair call.