Serena blames media for amplifying outburst

Andy Murray and Serena Williams during their third-round mixed doubles loss to top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar yesterday.
Andy Murray and Serena Williams during their third-round mixed doubles loss to top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Serena Williams has reopened the debate surrounding her controversial US Open row last year, claiming that it was an example of women being penalised for being themselves.

The American, who will play Barbora Strycova in today's Wimbledon semi-final, is two match wins away from a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.

On Tuesday, though, a first-person article by her was published in Harper's Bazaar, giving further thoughts on the reaction to her outburst during her defeat in the US Open final by Japan's Naomi Osaka last September.

Williams was fined US$17,000 (S$23,139) for branding umpire Carlos Ramos a "liar", "thief" and "sexist" after he penalised her a point and then a game during the second set in New York.

"This incident - though excruciating for us to endure - exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day," she wrote. "We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate.

"We are told to sit down and be quiet, which frankly is just not something I'm OK with. It's shameful that our society penalises women for being themselves."

Ten months on, there is little sign of Williams accepting responsibility for her behaviour that night.

The docking of a game in the second set followed the sport's three-strike procedure. She was first warned for illegal coaching from her mentor, Patrick Mouratoglou, who admitted to making gestures.

She then had a point deducted for breaking a racket in frustration, and finally a game for verbal abuse.

PERCEIVED INJUSTICE

Every night, as I would try to go to sleep, unresolved questions ran through my mind, how can you take a game away from me in the final of a Grand Slam?

SERENA WILLIAMS, former world No. 1, still coming to terms with the manner of her defeat by Japan's Naomi Osaka in the US Open final last September.

"Every night, as I would try to go to sleep, unresolved questions ran through my mind, how can you take a game away from me in the final of a Grand Slam?" Williams wrote. The aftermath proved so challenging for the former world No. 1 that she sought therapy.

She also sent an apology to her conqueror Osaka - who broke down in tears during the trophy ceremony - but not to Ramos.

"I started seeing a therapist," she wrote. "Finally, I realised that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologise to the person (Osaka) who deserved it the most.

"As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment again."

Williams' conviction that women should be allowed to speak their mind took on added meaning following Johanna Konta's 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 defeat by Czech Strycova.

The Briton was the architect of her own downfall with 34 unforced errors, ending English hopes of a first women's singles champion here since Virginia Wade in 1977.

Afterwards, she accused local media of "picking on me" following a line of questioning on yet another failure to make the final of a Grand Slam - Konta has now failed to clear the last-four stage three times.

The world No. 18 said: "Is that in your professional tennis opinion? I'm very open with you guys. I say how I feel out there. If you don't want to accept that answer or you don't agree with it, that's fine.

"I'm no less of a person or a player if I don't get past this point. Equally so if I do. I play this game with dignity, and I love the sport."

Yesterday, her hopes of mixed doubles glory ended when she and Andy Murray, affectionately named MurRena, lost in the third round to top seeds, Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline 'Serena blames media for amplifying outburst'. Print Edition | Subscribe