Serena Williams has been penalised for calling the chair umpire a thief during an extended argument as the US Open women’s final descended into chaos, with fans booing and play delayed before Naomi Osaka wrapped up a 6-2, 6-4 victory for her first Grand Slam title.
The biggest issue for Williams on the scoreboard Saturday was that she was outplayed by a younger version of herself in Osaka, a 20-year-old who is the first player from Japan to win a major singles tennis title and idolizes the 36-year-old American.
During the trophy ceremony in Arthur Ashe Stadium, thousands of fans jeered repeatedly, and both Osaka, the champion, and Williams, the runner-up in her bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam trophy, cried.
Williams put an arm around Osaka’s shoulder and told the crowd: “I know you guys were here rooting, and I was rooting, too, but let’s make this the best moment we can. … We’re going to get through this, and let’s be positive. So congratulations, Naomi. No more booing.”
Added Williams, with a laugh: “I really hope to continue to go and play here again. We’ll see.”
A teary Osaka addressed the pro-Williams crowd, saying, “I’m sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I’m sorry that it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match. Thank you.”
She added: “It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals, so I’m really glad that I was able to do that.”
I’m really grateful that I was able to play with you. Thank you.”
Williams was fined a total of $17,000 for the three code violations on Saturday. She was fined $4,000 for receiving coaching, $3,000 for racket abuse and $10,000 for verbal abuse.
This was Williams’ third high-profile conflict with an official at Flushing Meadows, following her tirade after a foot fault in the 2009 semifinals against Kim Clijsters and a dispute over a hindrance call in the 2011 final against Sam Stosur.
What the 2018 final will forever be remembered for is the way Williams clashed with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, demanding an apology after he initially issued a warning in the second set’s second game for a code violation for receiving coaching, which is not allowed during Grand Slam matches.
The WTA released a statement after the match, urging celebration of both players while saying, “There are matters that need to be looked into.”