Naomi Osaka won her first Grand Slam title Saturday, beating Serena Williams in a controversial US Open final that saw the American docked a game after calling the umpire a “thief.”
It was the latest in a string of events that could lead one to say this has been the most eventful Grand Slam ever, what with the heat, a new heat rule for the men, chair umpires intervening in play, one of the biggest upsets in tournament history and the mid-match retirement of Rafael Nadal.
Osaka prevailed against her idol 6-2, 6-4 in New York to deny Williams a record 24th major — and first as a mom — and become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.
The 20-year-old indeed made history for Japan but the final will be remembered as much — if not more — for Williams clashing with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Ramos first gave Williams, 36, a code violation warning for coaching in the second game of the second set — he ruled that her French coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, gave her hand signals from the stands. Mouratoglou admitted in a TV interview he was coaching, though that didn’t mean his charge saw him.
And he said his counterpart, Sascha Bajin, formerly Williams’ hitting partner, was doing the same thing.
Williams approached the net and told Ramos: “I don’t cheat. I’d rather lose. Every time I play here I have problems.”
Williams may have been referring to the US Open in 2009, when she received a point penalty against Kim Clijsters in the semifinals — deemed to have verbally abused a linesperson — and was called for hindrance for yelling during a point in the 2011 final against Sam Stosur.
Even before then, a bad call went against Williams in the 2004 quarterfinals against Jennifer Capriati, a match that served to speed up the use of Hawk-Eye in tennis.