Tennis legend reveals what Serena got wrong in US Open outburst

Serena Williams triggered a massive wave of discourse after her outburst toward a chair umpire during the U.S. Open final led to a game penalty and complaints of sexism from the tennis legend.

Williams incurred three different violations over the course of a bizarre second set: first for on-court coaching, then smashing her racket in frustration and finally for verbal abuse toward chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

That last violation incurred a game penalty for Williams, an extraordinarily rare action for Ramos to take in a Grand Slam final.

Over the course of the fiasco, Williams demanded an apology from the umpire for accusing her of cheating, called him a thief for stealing a point from her, argued with officials and reached the point of tears.

She was graceful during an awkward trophy ceremony for her opponent, Naomi Osaka, but later said she would not have received the penalty if she was a man and claimed she was fighting for women’s equality.

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Martina Navratilova had some issues with the Serena Williams meltdown. Pic: Getty

As one can imagine, Williams has been both widely praised and criticised throughout the sports world, but one voice that speaks loudest is that of 18-time Grand Slam singles winner Martina Navratilova.

Navratilova spoke to The New York Times, praising Williams for her message of inequality but criticising the context in which she made her argument.

“Had I behaved like that on a tennis court, I would have expected to get everything that happened to Serena,” said Martina Navratilova, who won a record nine Wimbledon titles, and has been a longtime advocate for equality in the sport.

“It should’ve ended right there with the point warning, but Serena just couldn’t let it go.”

She added, “She completely had the right message about women’s inequality, but it wasn’t the right time to bring it up.”

Serena Williams clashed with umpire Carlos Ramos in the US Open final. Pic: Getty

The 18-time Grand Slam winner also insisted Williams had to hold herself to a higher standard, given her incredible standing in the game.

“We cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with,” Navratilova wrote.

“In fact, this is the sort of behaviour that no one should be engaging in on the court.”

But when it comes to equality, the Czech-born American accepted Williams had a strong point.

“Serena Williams has part of it right. There is a huge double standard for women when it comes to how bad behaviour is punished — and not just in tennis,” Navratilova wrote.

“But in her protests … she also got part of it wrong. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of, “If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.

“Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honour our sport and to respect our opponents?”

Another all-time tennis great to address the situation was Billie Jean King, who was much more supportive of Williams and agreed that women faced a double standard in tennis.



Steve Simon, the CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, also backed Williams. In a statement released Sunday, Simon said that the WTA did not believe that Williams had received the same standard men usually receive during her match.