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Serena Williams Sparks Controversy Over Women’s Equality at U.S. Open

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This August, women’s tennis legend Serena Williams battled Naomi Osaka for the title of champion at the 2018 U.S. Open. Osaka, nearly 16 years younger than Serena, was ecstatic to play against one of her idols until the match descended from friendly competition to a vicious fight between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Here’s what went down to make this competition so controversial.

Williams vs. Osaka Turns Into Battle Against the Umpire

The match was off to a good start until a disagreement between Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos. He flagged her for a code violation for using hand signals and visual aids with her coach on the court. Williams was outraged by the call, smashing her racket (another violation), demanding an apology, and calling him a “thief” for stealing the game from her. Her last comment caused Ramos to give her a full game penalty. But Serena was quick to respond.

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Serena’s Post-Match Comments Spark Controversy

After the game, Serena congratulated Osaka for her win but was quick to point out that the penalties she received were more sexist than they were accurate. She said, “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things… for me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never [taken] a game from a man because they said, ‘thief.’ For me, it blows my mind.”

Sky News

Not Just a Slap on the Wrist

Tennis penalties are much more than embarrassing for athletes. Serena Williams was fined a total of $17,000 for the three code violations. $10,000 was for ‘verbal abuse’ of chair umpire Carlos Ramos, $4,000 for being warned for coaching, and $3,000 for breaking her racket. Though her earnings for the match were much higher, losing this money for a potentially biased call would not go unanswered by the tennis star.

BMW Blog

Celebrities Share Their Support

When word got out that Serena was taking another stand on women’s’ right in sports, celebrities took Twitter by storm in support. Wendell Pierce  of Selma tweeted: “The hypocrisy of the umpire to penalize @serenawilliams in a sport that celebrated the antics of John McEnroe and Ilie [Năstase] is a blatant display of sexism #usopen.”

The Famous People

Serena Gets Mixed Reviews from Tennis Community

Many big names in the pro tennis arena lauded Serena for her bravery, including men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic and Billie Jean King, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association. However, player Martina Navratilova disagreed. She said that she thought the best way to fight sexism is by rising above, not demanding to “get away with” the same poor behavior.

Jezebel

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