I quote comedian Chris Rock repeatedly “Racism will never die, it will only multiply.”
Let me paraphrase that, “Sexism may never die, it may only multiply.”
Day by day allegations and more women come forward with revelations of sexual abuse. I find it disturbing allegations are being found more in surrounding sports arena.
The “Me Too Movement” was created to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. The movement is a reminder the playing field is not even.
I digress. This is a tennis column.
The women’s U.S. Open final took a turn drawing attention for a moment that a women’s game is being played in contrast to a men’s.
Naomi Osaka’s dream came true when she faced her hero Serena Williams. Osaka defeated Williams 6-2, 6-4 to win the U.S. Open, the first title for the Haitian-Japanese who is only 20 years of age. The dream became a bit nightmarish, to say the least.
Let’s get into it.
Williams, attempting to tie the record with her 24th Grand Slam title, was levied a game penalty in the second set during a disturbing display of anger directed at the match’s chair umpire Carlos Ramos. The pot was boiling when at 1-1 in the second set, Ramos had assessed Williams a coaching violation after her longtime coach, Patrick Mouratoglou motioned from the player’s box that Williams should go to the net more often. Williams disagreed adding she is not a cheater.
“You owe me an apology,” Williams said. “I have never cheated in my life.
Ramos penalized Williams three times during her loss to Naomi Osaka: for getting coaching signals; for breaking her racket, which cost her a point; and for calling Ramos a thief, which cost her a game.
William with emotion said she was being treated differently from male players who she argued. Get away with much harsher language and behavior on court. Does the name John McEnroe ring a bell? McEnroe has been celebrated for his tirades moreover benefited financially.
Williams, 36 was also trying to break Chris Evert’s record of six U.S. Open singles titles. This would have been her first major win since the birth of her 1-year-old daughter.
The narrative for a tennis match that was played on a Saturday continued, overshadowing the men’s final moreover reminding me there is a divide when it comes to the understating of male privilege in our country let alone race.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” Williams stated. “I am here fighting for women’s rights and women’s equality. I am going to continue to fight women.”
On Sunday, the tournament referee docked Williams $10,000 for “verbal abuse” of the chair umpire, $4,000 for being warned for coaching and $3,000 for breaking her racket.
The ITF said in a statement Monday that Ramos’ citations were “reaffirmed by the U.S. Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offenses.”
The governing body of tennis added: “Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”
Sadly, lost in the chaos: The winner.
Osaka has the trophy after defeating arguably the most exceptional women’s tennis player in the sport. The moment of it is happening; she will never get back.
Williams can relive hers dating back to 1999. It happened in the same Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she played boldly and often unstoppable at age 17 to upset top-ranked Martina Hingis and win her first Grand Slam singles title in her first Grand Slam final.
Unlike Williams, Osaka heard boos raining down during the trophy ceremony; tears were shed on a day that should have expressed joy.
Above all she took it all in stride, as chaotic as the environment was along with chaotic circumstances, adversity coming from the left and the right she remained focused.
“I know that everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match,” Osaka said. “It was always my dream to play Serena in the U.S. Open finals, so I’m really glad I was able to do that. Thank you.”
Losses, nagging injuries, and self-doubt were roadblocks for Osaka before showing this dominance. Nevertheless, Her speed, power and blocking out the distractions will benefit her in the future.
This match will stick out in history for both of these professional women. The narrative is strong but will lead to a needed discussion. Hopefully, the playing field will be paved equally with Williams leading or Osaka may have to stop to send a message in the middle of a match soon.