20 year old Tennis player Naomi Osaka made history this weekend when she beat her idol, Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open. Osaka's win makes her the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament.
But the tournament was also overshadowed by much controversy. During the match, 23 time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams received a code violation when umpire, Carlos Ramos, claimed that Williams was receiving hand signals from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. Williams argued with Ramos, denying the accusation and stated that her coach was only giving her a thumbs up for doing a good job, adding, "I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose." After the game however, William's coach did admit in a television interview that he was coaching Serena but added, "I don't think she looked at me" and "everybody does it."
Williams received another violation when she smashed her racquet after losing her serve. She went back to Ramos, still disappointed at the previous call and stated, "I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what's right for her. I have never cheated." As the match continued, Williams continued to speak to Ramos and eventually calling him a thief and a liar. Upon doing so, Williams received a third violation for verbal abuse and was penalized a game.
All the while, Osaka maintained her concentration and determination to win the tournament by jumping around, facing the wall and looking at her racquet. After her 6-2, 6-4 win, she stated, "I didn't know what was going on, I was just trying to focus. Since it was my first grand Slam final, I didn't want to get overwhelmed... I didn't really hear anything I had my back turned."
The awards ceremony was a bittersweet moment for all and the most awkward for Osaka. Loud boos were heard from the crowd and you can see Osaka crying as she pulls her hat down to cover her face. Williams consoles Osaka by putting her arm around her. When Serena receives the microphone, she tells the crowd to stop booing. "She played well and this is her first Grand Slam...let's make this the best moment we can, we'll get through it. Let's give everyone credit where credit's due. Let's not boo anymore...Let's stay positive. Congratulations, Naomi. No more booing! Let's not boo anymore." During Osaka's moment, she tells the crowd, "I know everyone was cheering for her (Serena Williams) and I am sorry it has to end like this. 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."
This isn't the first time Osaka beat Williams. Earlier this year, Naomi beat Serena at the Miami Masters, 6-3, 6-2. Naomi Osaka who was born in Osaka, Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father moved to the United States when she was just 3 years old. Growing up, Serena Williams was her idol and disclosed that she even did a report on Serena when she was in the third grade. After her win, she said, "When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I'm not a Serena fan. I'm just a tennis player playing another tennis player...when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again."