2018 U.S. Open Opens the Door For Controversy
By: Ubong Ekpo
Instead of celebrating what would’ve been her twenty fourth grand slam title, the 2018 U.S. Open ended in controversy for Serena Williams.
Williams received several penalties during the match. One coaching violation for allegedly receiving coaching during the match, which Williams vehemently denied.
Another for breaking her racquet in frustration, which resulted in Williams losing points and a third for arguing with umpire Carlos Ramos-stemmed by her calling him a ‘thief’ for taking points away in the previous violation.
The third violation, which was categorized as abuse of an official, penalized Williams by giving an entire match point to opponent Naomi Osaka. With Osaka then having a 5-3 lead, Williams eventually succumbed and lost the match.
There has been much debate in the weeks since the questionable ending to the match, with conversations ranging from whether Williams was the victim of sexism and racism, or was this a temper tantrum from a star seeing her prime slip away?
The umpire in question is no stranger to clashing with the Williams family.
During the 2016 French Open, Ramos issued the same coaching violation to Williams’ older sister Venus Williams, which Venus detested.
While it is not certainly explicit whether Ramos is a bigot or sexist, the irony that he chose to implement penalties that are rarely given out, to the two most well known and popular African American tennis players, leaves much to be probed.
In comparison to the her white counterparts in tennis history, specifically white males, Williams treatment of Ramos isn’t new- nor is it the most outlandish.
Tennis legends such as John Mcenroe, who is known for yelling and insulting umpires throughout his career are revered for his treatment of umpires. Although Mcenroe was penalized for his actions just as Williams was, but the reaction he got was different.
Serena Williams seems to carry a burden that her tennis contemporaries are not tasked with. Williams experience in the professional Tennis world is just a smaller scale example of being a black woman in America.
A newspaper in Australia published a racist, derogatory cartoon, depicting Williams as a large obscene monster like figure, stomping on her racquet.
Her opponent, Osaka, who is of both Japanese and Haitian heritage, is given the stereotypical blonde hair, to give the appearance that she is a white woman.
One telling thing to point out is the media coverage of Osaka’s win. Osaka’s Haitian heritage is rarely, if ever mentioned, the headlines continually congratulate her as the first Japanese woman to win a major title, but never as the first Haitian woman or even mixed.
Throughout history, black women have constantly been forced to conform to the Caucasian standard of beauty.
They have been assimilating for the sake of acceptance and being held to a more strict standard, only to be treated with less respect. Williams is no exception to this treatment.
In July of this year, Williams sent out a series of tweets, voicing her displeasure in regards to random drug testing.
Williams said in tweet “It’s that time of the day to get ‘randomly’ drug tested and only test Serena. Out of all the players it’s been proven I’m the one getting tested the most. Discrimination? I think so. At least I’ll be keeping the sport clean #StayPositive.”
Later on in the same month, the French Open imposed a ban on Williams from wearing a black catsuit during that tournament. We’ve seen in a month span Williams body be subjected to standards to her counterparts are not held to.
The black woman cannot express any emotion without being characterized as an “angry black woman”.
What some may call an egocentric tantrum, others call a human expressing their emotions.
America has been conditioned to view black women in a certain light, Williams anger being attributed as just another trait of women like her.
The facts are coaching during tennis matches, although rules state such act is illegal, the rule is rarely implemented, especially during a finals match.
If one is to view Williams’ behavior was inappropriate, the same logic applies to the inconsistency of when certain violations are handed out.
The issue that no one, not even Williams herself, wants to acknowledge was that her penalties were given not just because she is a woman, it was because she is a black woman.
Once this is understood, the domino effect of sexism and all other issues will come to pass.