Winning her first career major against idol, Serena Williams, was supposed to be a fairy-tale moment for Naomi Osaka. Instead, it turned into a massive debacle that lit up the sports world like wildfire with drama surrounding Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos. It is understandable that in the heat of the moment, especially in a championship game, emotions can get the best of anyone. But what Williams showcased on the tennis court made her look like a baby throwing a temper tantrum. She unintentionally took the spotlight away from Osaka, and that is not ok.
Throughout the match, Williams received three violations from Ramos.
“You owe me an apology! I have never cheated in my life!” said Williams when confronting Ramos, after he issued a coaching violation from Williams personal coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. However, according to ESPN, Mouratoglou admitted he was coaching Williams from the sidelines.
“Well, I mean, I’m honest, I was coaching. I mean, I don’t think she looked at me, so that’s why she didn’t even think I was. I was like 100 percent of the coaches on 100 percent of the matches, so we have to stop this hypocrite thing,” Mouratoglou said. “Sascha [Bajin, Osaka’s coach,] was coaching every point, too.”
It’s good to see Mouratoglou own up to his wrongdoing, but saying that all coaches do the same thing is not an honorable defense. Osaka outplayed Williams and that’s that.
One would think that Williams, perhaps the greatest female tennis player of all time, would shake off her first violation and play on. That would be the smart thing to do. Control your emotions, and just focus.
Williams didn’t do any of that.
She proceeded to get a second violation and point deduction for smashing her racket into the ground, and a third violation for calling Ramos a “thief” which he deemed verbal abuse. It was an embarrassing scene to behold and Williams would eventually lose the match.
One thing should be noted however. Throughout everything that transpired during the match, Osaka stayed calm and collected. When it came to the trophy ceremony, thousands in attendance jeered repeatedly, causing Osaka to cry as she thought the boos were directed towards her.
This should have been a moment of triumph for her. Dedicating her whole life to a sport that she loved, playing and beating her idol in Serena Williams, and holding up one of the most coveted trophies in all of tennis. Instead, Osaka kept her head bowed down crying, looking lost.
While I don’t condone any of the actions Williams’ showed on the court, her efforts to comfort Osaka displayed a great deal of sportsmanship. Williams put her arm around Osaka and addressed the crowd saying, “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.”
“She said, like, she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me,”. So I was really happy that she said that. At the time, I did kind of think they were booing at me [cause] I couldn’t tell what was going on because it was just so loud in there, so it was a little bit stressful.”
It’s hard to watch someone in their biggest moment go through so much adversity like Osaka did, but she handled it as gracefully as possible. After her win, sponsorships came swooping in. Osaka signed new endorsement deals with Adidas and Nissan. Although she had been endorsed by Adidas throughout her career, her renewed deal is the richest in the history of women’s tennis at $8.5 million a year. At only 20 years old and barely scratching the surface of her potential, the sky’s the limit.
Professional athletes, no matter what sport they play, should always be respectful and courteous to others. They should remember that kids around the world look up to them for guidance and that good sportsmanship can go a long way. Sometimes games can get heated, but good morals and common sense must be used to avoid going off the wall. If athletes weren’t held accountable for their actions, there wouldn’t be guidelines for other athletes to shadow. And without any guidelines, there will only be chaos.
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