It should have been a moment that Naomi Osaka remembers for the rest of her life for winning her first ever Grand Slam title. Instead, the 2018 women’s singles final will be remembered for a serious Serena Williams meltdown that led to dramatic scenes during the match.
20-year-old Osaka won the 2018 US Open title 6-2, 6-4 to clinch her first ever Grand Slam victory but not before Williams was given a warning, a point penalty and a game penalty that led to the controversial final.
So what actually happened? Here’s a lowdown.
Williams was given a warning by the umpire Carlos Ramos’s in the second set for receiving coaching from coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Mouratoglou later admitted he was coaching Williams but he hadn’t been alone in doing so and that Osaka’s coach was doing exactly that as well.
He admitted: “Well, I mean, I am honest, I was coaching. I don’t think she looked at me, that’s why she didn’t even think I was, but I was.”
“Like 100 per cent of the coaches, in 100 per cent of the matches, so we have to stop this hypocrite thing. Sascha [Bajin, Naomi Osaka’s coach] was coaching every point too.”
As the rules stand, coaching is allowed during WTA tournaments but not during Grand Slam competitions. Unfortunately, a rule was broken and the chair umpire had been right in throwing a book at the offender, but Williams did not take to that very kindly.
She told the chair umpire that Mouratoglou had just given her a thumbs up and she doesn’t cheat to win – she would rather lose.
Leading 3-2 in the second set, Williams was then given a point penalty for breaking her racquet – Osaka starting serve at 15-0. This was again in accordance with the rules which state that the first violation gets a warning and a second one leads to a point penalty.
This led to an outburst from Williams who claimed she hadn’t cheated earlier. She said:
“This is unbelievable. Every time I play here I have problems.”
“What? That’s a warning. I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn’t get coaching.
“I don’t cheat. I didn’t get coaching. How can you say that? You need to … you owe me an apology. You owe me an apology. I have NEVER cheated in my life!
Things got no better after that. Williams lost her serve in the seventh game and as Osaka was looking to resume serving, the American accused the chair umpire of being a thief for “stealing a point from me.”
The rant continued after that, with Williams continuing to defend herself for the coaching warning, and screamed at the chair umpire:
“I explained that [I wasn’t getting coaching] to you and for you to attack my character … it’s wrong. You’re attacking my character. Yes, you are.”
“You owe me an apology. You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology. Say it, say you’re sorry. You stole a point from me, you’re a thief too.”
At this stage, the chair umpire gave Williams a third code violation which resulted in Williams losing a game.
This led to Williams calling for the tournament referee Brian Earley and explaining her point to him and WTA supervisor Donna Kelso. They tried explaining she was on two violations already and knew the risk of attacking the chair umpire after that.
Williams served out her game to make it 4-5 but Osaka showed a lot of composure in handling her own serve, and completing the win. Williams’ reactions rubbed on to the crowd who booed during the trophy presentation but later stopped when the American requested them not to take away from a memorable win for Osaka.