Gosh, this was a hard loss and a hard win. Even in the matches where Venus and Serena played against each other and one emerged victorious, a win has never felt this bitter for me. The only sweet is that Naomi Osaka, the HAITIAN-JAPANESE (let’s respect that she is both) 20-year old, has her name in the history books and a $3.8M purse. Let’s make this clear — this is not the way Osaka would have wanted to win, but she deserved the win. This young woman has been power, great tennis, smiles, grace and giggles all tournament, only to find herself unable to truly enjoy what winning her first Grand Slam should really feel like. The umpire made the match about him and his ego, he should have used better discretion, instead of handing over a game and a point to Osaka in what was the final, heartbreaking set. Had she not been given that point and game, I believe she’d have still edged out Serena. Naomi is an incredible young talent. Her game has been modeled after Serena and I believe she will achieve more great things. I stood in the stands wanting to hug her and tell her she so deserved the win, even though it was marred with drama. Despite what the final few games came down to, she played impeccable tennis, she dominated in the face of a crowd that heavily favored her opponent. She handled herself with grace in the face of a very awkward championship win, one that should never have ended on these terms.
People will say that Serena behaved unsportsmanlike and criticize her to the heavens. As someone in that stadium, what I saw was gravely different from those sitting at home behind their keyboards have been wailing on about. Serena stood up for herself, she didn’t scream expletives, or berate the umpire. The umpire, Carlos Ramos, didn’t even stay for the trophy presentation, an act that I find disrespectful to the players and the fans, who were all robbed of a true final. She called him a thief, a blow to his ego maybe, but that hardly ranks on any scale to be anything close to verbal abuse — the charge levied at her that cost her the game. Carlos Ramos made the final moments of that set about him, an unforgivable act as an officiant.
I’ve read comments on the @USOpen IG feed from people claiming Serena didn’t even say Naomi played well, and that her speech at the end was horrible. This is what she actually said:
“I don’t wanna be rude or interrupt or do questions. I wanna say she played well, it’s her first Grand Slam. I know the guys were rooting and I was rooting too. Let’s make this the best moment we can. Let’s not boo anymore. Let’s be positive. Congratulations Naomi! No more booing! Thank you to my team. The crowd, you really are the best in the world. I hope to continue to go and play here again – we’ll see! It’s been a tough year for me, thank you so much.”
She brought me to tears. People who are not passionate about anything will never understand why Serena just couldn’t let it go. I wish she’d have channeled it into her game and taken things up with the umpire after the tournament, but I salute her for taking him to task, even if it cost her the title.
In closing — Serena, I’m sorry this went down like this and I await the 2019 season. Naomi, congratulations — and I can’t wait to see where this takes you next. Keep your head up and I can’t wait to see you smile the next time you win.