Serena Williams has released a first person essay addressing her controversial US Open outburst.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles winner was handed a $17,000 (£13,200) fine for her conduct during last year’s final, with the match ending in boos from the crowd which left victorious Naomi Osaka in tears. The article, published in Harper’s Bazaar, is the first time Williams has commented on the incident in detail.
In her candid essay Williams reiterates post-match claims that chair umpire Carlos Ramos discriminated against her because of her gender, going on to add that she felt “passionately compelled” to stand up for herself and “defeated and disrespected”. The incident left her suffering from sleepless nights and seeking the support of a therapist.
According to the article she personally apologised to Naomi Osaka for tarnishing her first Grand Slam win. Williams told Osaka, who was just 20 years old when she won the US Open, that she was shocked by the media’s reaction to her outburst.
Later in the apology Williams voiced her support for the rising star, adding that she regrets taking the spotlight away from another black female athlete.
Osaka’s response was supportive and showed a player mature beyond her years. Osaka, who crashed out of Wimbledon last week at the first round, called Williams a “trailblazer” who needs to continue standing up for herself.
Williams says this response encouraged her to stand up for herself – adding that, although some may not like her opinion, she needed to voice it.
“This incident—though excruciating for us to endure—exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day,” she said. “We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate.
“We are told to sit down and be quiet, which frankly is just not something I’m okay with. It’s shameful that our society penalizes women just for being themselves.”
Williams pointed towards the injustices she has suffered in the past, saying that the US Open incident was the final blow in a journey lined with hurdles.
The full article will appear in the August 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.