At the 2018 US Open trophy ceremony, Japanese-Haitian tennis player Naomi Osaka apologized for her victory. “I’m sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for [Williams], and I’m sorry that it had to end like this,” the newly-crowned champion choked.
Her opponent, Serena Williams, lost after multiple code violations and heated dialogue with the umpire. When Williams was penalized for alleged communication with her coach during the match, she took offence and denied the accusation. She shouted at the umpire and demanded for an apology, calling him a thief for stealing her point. When her ball failed to make it over the net, she proceeded to pound her racket onto the ground, leaving its frame crushed on the court floor.
While this spectacle unfolded, the stadium cheered in Williams’ support and a quiet Osaka attempted to maintain focus on the match of her lifetime against her personal tennis hero. After her 6-2, 6-4 win, the twenty-year-old claimed the title of US Open Women’s Singles Champion.
This match has grasped the attention of not only the tennis community, but a larger demographic of au courant individuals. The main premise of the global conversation that has been largely at debate is the merit of the umpire’s calls. The methods that the United States Tennis Association use to define what warrants point deductions has been criticized for its partiality and sexism, penalizing female athletes for offences that would be tolerable under male conditions.
Williams spoke out against the system, claiming, “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was sexist.”
While this assertion is true, the context in which Williams makes her argument contradicts her feminist denouncement of tennis culture. As Williams advocated for herself and addressed the sexist attitude in the sport, she simultaneously provoked an entire stadium to verbally attack her female opponent for winning under “unfair conditions” rather than genuine talent. In the name of “feminism”, Williams, a 23-time US Open champion, completely bulldozed Osaka’s first success. Feminism that places the needs of one woman over others can not and should not be condoned.
Kate H. Lee, Grade 11
South Pasadena High School