Last week, Serena Williams lost to Naomi Osaka at the US Open and the only thing that anyone is talking about is how Serena had a mental breakdown after chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, made a questionable call that led to Serena freaking out and smashing her racket and calling Ramos a ‘thief’.
There is so much to dissect. There are so many moving parts. For a lot of people, this confirmed everything they believe about Serena Williams. She’s a sore loser and turns into a real baby when things don’t go her way.
And for others, this became a larger issue about the way women aren’t allowed to show emotion the same way that men can. It also becomes a look at race relations. Plus, with everything surrounding her struggles with childbirth and how quickly she was able to recover and return to dominating tennis, Serena Williams just represents so many things outside of the game of tennis.
Before we get into any of that, we need to just focus on what actually happened in this match.
Serena Williams received a warning for being coached as her skipper was in the bleachers doing A LOT. There’s no denying that homeboy was attempting to get her attention and send her signals. He was flashing gang signs like Nipsey Hussle.
After receiving the warning, Serena flipped out and immediately denied any claim that she was cheating. Listening to Serena plea was touuugh to watch. I wanted to crawl into a ball watching that. Clearly that was a woman who was fed up with being treated differently.
So after losing the next point, she smashed her racket which is another automatic warning. One more outburst would result in a game violation. Serena Williams continued to chirp at Carlos Ramos and next thing you know, they took the game from her and the US Open was pretty much lost after that.
Before we zoom out and discuss the circumstances that may have caused Carlos Ramos to be extra sensitive about Serena Williams talking back and what caused Serena to be extra sensitive about receiving that initial coaching violation, we need to just say, *whispers* Serena shouldn’t have done any of that.
You’re a professional athlete and things aren’t going your way. That’s unfortunate but act like you’ve been there before. You’ve won 23 Grand Slam titles. You’re getting worked today. It happens. You can’t win them all. Whether you feel as though things are ‘fair’ or not, you can’t be out here demanding apologies and huffing and puffing and slamming your racket because you’re upset.
Now, it’s impossible to not at least consider what Serena brought up to the judge live in the moment. Would a man be treated the same way for yelling at a judge that Serena did? Are men allowed to get away with showing their emotions and most importantly their anger, more than women are?
Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘get away with’. People keep comparing what Serena did last weekend with what John McEnroe used to do.
Here’s the thing, John McEnroe was a dick. As time goes on, we look back like ‘aw, CLASSIC MCENROE screaming at a judge’ but nah. At the time, people hated him and he was issued the same warnings and penalties as Serena.
Plus, tennis was different back then. There weren’t instant replays showing whether or not a ball was out of bounds so yelling is the only thing that these players could do to possibly get their way in the future on these little judgment calls.
I can’t say I know what it’s like to have to hold in my anger in fear of being called ‘crazy’ or ‘hysterical’ but like, in no world am I cool with ANYONE just losing their cool and freaking out. Man or woman, control yourself. You’re an adult. You shouldn’t be barking or screaming at another adult in a professional setting.
As far as the racial element goes, we can’t get into the mind of Carlos Ramos but if I know how pale men react to black women raising their voices, Ramos was for sure shook. People are easily intimidated by black women with ‘attitudes’. To this day, I am very afraid of my black mother.
It would be very disingenuous to say that this same thing would’ve happened to Maria Sharapova. I get the feeling Maria would have yelled louder and been even more obnoxious because she knows she can get away with it and the judge would’ve been like ‘okay Maria, get it all out of your system and let’s get back to playing tennis now, sweetheart’.
But we can’t wrap up the ‘is Serena treated differently’ discussion without pointing out that she wore a catsuit to help with her blood circulation following her blood clot scare during her pregnancy anddd then the French Open completely changed their dress code afterward.
Or the fact that she is drug tested more than any other woman on the tour even Maria Sharapova is snacking on HGH gummy worms right now.
When Carlos Ramos gave her the coaching violation, she didn’t call out how dumb the rule is or that her coach wasn’t interfering. Nope, the first thing she said and what she kept repeating is that she’s not a ‘cheater’.
Serena is the best female athlete on the planet and has been for about a decade now. She’s not getting some unfair edge. She’s not gaming the system or cutting corners. She’s just out here better than these other girls so imagine what that must feel like to constantly have all of your accomplishments questioned because you’re *too* good.
Is she being untreated unfairly because she’s a woman? Yea, probably. Is she being untreated unfairly because she’s a black woman? Yea, probably. But zooming back in to the actual match, did she break the rules? Yes, absolutely.
That coaching rule is a silly judgment call to begin with. There is no way for a chair umpire to know if the player is receiving the coaching from the stands. Plus, Serena was getting her ass beat. The coaching clearly wasn’t working. And it’s the US Open Finals. Carlos Ramos decided to make a really weird call in the biggest match at the most pivotal time of the match because, well because he felt like it.
Buuuuuut in the same breath, *whispers again* Serena broke the rules and there are consequences for your actions. Yes, we can understand her frustrations about being labeled a cheater and feeling like she’s being treated differently but at the end of the day, she lost her cool. And she lost the US Open.
We can’t let her off the hook because we like her. We also can’t blindly say that she freaked out for no reason. All we can do is step back and congratulate Naomi Osaka for beating the brakes off Serena so badly that she was smashing rackets.
“When I step on the court, I’m not a Serena fan – I’m just a tennis player playing another tennis player. But when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2018
Long Live our new Japanese/Haitian queen, Naomi Osaka.
Thanks for reading. Tweet to @TheLesterLee with all of your Serena Williams thoughts so we can figure this shit out. Also, go ahead and throw Deadseriousness a Like on Facebook so that I can keep the lights on around here at HQ.