Furriends, I just got through watching the women’s final at the US Open and I am not feeling light-hearted as I usually do. Matter of fact, my heart is heavy. It should be a celebratory time, but instead I am feeling a lot of conflicting emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, joy…all of these things.
Let’s set the scene for you. Serena Williams, who was out this time last year giving birth to her first child, has fought her way back this past year and made it to the US Open final. No small feat, but she’s a fighter and a champ and she did it with conviction and determination. Naomi Osaka, 20 year old, who has played excellent tennis earlier this year, had a bit of a slump mid-season, fought back and was making her debut at a grand slam final. In my mind, it was Naomi’s time to win today. She has beaten Serena before and she has been playing well this tournament, so I always thought Naomi was going to win.
First set was all Naomi Osaka…quick 6-2.
Then it all went to hell in a hand basket in the second set. A lot went down, so try to follow me here…
The chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, called a code violation on Serena for getting coaching from her coaching box. She had a “conversation” with the chair umpire that she doesn’t cheat, that she would rather lose a match than win while cheating. You can see it on TV, and her coach later admitted, he was coaching… he motioned to her to go to the net more. Then Naomi broke Serena’s service game and Serena smashed her racquet. Code violation #2. Two code violations = one point for the other player. At the end of that game during the change over, Serena brought up the coaching thing again and called him a thief for robbing her of her point. Things escalated, and she asked for the tournament director and she discussed this with them, too, saying it was unfair, that this would never happen if this was a man doing these things. This resulted in code violation #3. Every violation called after 2 is a game penalty. So, she lost a game and the score is 3-5.
Meanwhile, poor Naomi is checking her own pulse, trying to remain calm. Naomi eventually serves out the last game and wins her first major title! Congratulations Naomi Osaka! Unfortunately, it is overshadowed by the mess that unfolded on court today.
Image: Yahoo Sports
This pictures makes me so sad. Naomi Osaka couldn’t even break a smile while hoisting the trophy for the first time.
Emotions…here is how I’m feeling.
Anger…that Naomi was robbed from her celebration! She was the better player today from the beginning. This was her first slam…against her idol. She is a shy girl to begin with and she couldn’t even have her moment.
Frustration…that Serena had to be subjected to questionable actions on the chair umpire’s part. There was fault on both sides. How he handled things, how she handled things. All around, just a mess!
Sadness…that, unfortunately Serena is right. There is a double standard in sport and in society when it comes to men and women. We saw it this week when the female player got a violation for taking her shirt off and changing during a match. We see it in what men can get away with saying on the court (cuss words, etc), and what women can say. We see it in classrooms and in business…men being rewarded for be assertive and aggressive and women being punished, over looked, or deemed “difficult to work with” if they show the same actions.
Confusion…of why this couldn’t have been settled off court. I know Serena was in the moment, but part of me says take the violation and move on (there is another player standing on the other side of the court waiting on you). But also feeling like Serena had every right to stand up for herself and call out the injustice that was playing out before her.
Joy…for Naomi Osaka!! Make no mistake, this young player is here to stay! She’s got something special, and now she’s got a grand slam. I was happy to see during the post match ESPN coverage just outside of Arthur Ashe stadium, that the crowd was cheering for her, chanting her name and acknowledging her as a champion! She deserved that, even if it was a little bit late!
Image: Yahoo Sports
So if you will forgive me, all of these emotions have me exhausted. I think I’ll go take a catnap!
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