Naomi Osaka announced her arrival on the big stage at the U.S. Open on Thursday, beating last year's runner-up Madison Keys 6-2 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final and set up a clash with her childhood idol Serena Williams. (Williams' coach later admitted to coaching Williams, although he doesn't believe she saw him.) Williams reacted strongly to the accusation.
The scene recalled Williams's ugly rant at a line judge in her US Open semi-final loss to Kim Clijsters in 2009 and her verbal attack on chair umpire Eva Asderaki in her 2011 final loss to Samantha Stosur.
She was mostly dominant, dropping only one set in her seven matches, and she saved 5 of 6 break points against Williams after erasing all 13 in the semifinals against Madison Keys.
The first was for receiving illegal on-court coaching from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
As the pro-Williams crowed booed the announcers at the trophy presentation, Osaka was tearing up herself, but Williams urged the spectators to show the young champion respect.
But the game will be remembered for Williams' meltdown and confrontation with the umpire and match referee. She stood by calling Ramos a "thief", adding that she would continue to fight for women's equality.
Saturday's defeat comes at the heels of Williams' remarkable return to the game after the c-section birth of her daughter, Alexis.
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The game penalty came as a culmination of an on-going argument between Williams and Ramos.
"But I was, like 100 percent of the coaches in 100 percent of the matches so we have to stop this hypocritical thing".
The former world number one had her second chance of the year to equal Margaret Court's long-standing grand slam record of 24 grand slams, but let her emotions get the better of her against a brilliant and calm Naomi Osaka in NY. "This should not happen", King said on Twitter. For me to say 'thief, ' and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. She received a penalty point for the second violation. "I'd rather lose", she told the umpire.
Williams said she didn't know if she would have managed to turn things around if the dispute with Ramos had not occurred. "I mean, he's never taken a game from a man because he said thief". You can say hey next time you're going to get a warning, a coach violation - I think that's fair.
We can only imagine what was going through Williams' mind at the moment.
2017 men's finalist Kevin Anderson urged Osaka to feel proud "for competing against someone you (and the rest of us) admire so much to win your first slam". Should they be allowed have an influence on the result of a match? There is no way a men's player with Serena's resume (multiple Grand Slam titles, economic driver of the sport) is getting a third code violation for that language in the finals of a major.