Naomi Osaka claims U.S. Open title after Serena meltdown
Naomi Osaka became Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion after she thumped Serena Williams 6-2 6-4 in a controversial U.S. Open final on Saturday, with the American suffering a mesmerizing meltdown after being handed a code violation.
It was drama-filled conclusion to a final that was rich with storylines but will now go down as one of the most controversial Grand Slam finals of all time.
There was much riding on the match for both women, with Osaka bidding to become the first man or woman from Japan to lift a Grand Slam singles title and Williams poised to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles.
In the end it was Osaka making history but on a day of bizarre events her victory will only be a footnote to what is sure to go down as one of the most infamous matches ever played at Flushing Meadows.
The chaotic finish filled with screaming, tears and jeers cast a cloud over what should have been Osaka’s shining moment.
Standing on the podium waiting to be handed her trophy and a winner’s check for $3.8 million, Osaka heard only boos as an angry crowd took out their frustration on Portuguese chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who stood to the side.
“I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” said Osaka. “It was always my dream to play Serena in the U.S. Open finals … I’m really grateful I was able to play with you.”
With Osaka in control of the match after taking the first set, Ramos sent Williams into a rage when he handed the 23-time Grand Slam champion a code violation in the second game of the second set after he spotted the American’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou making some hand signals from the player’s box.
A string of bad behavior followed from Williams and she went on to incur a point penalty for smashing her racket before being slapped with a game penalty at 4-3 down after she launched into a verbal attack against Ramos, accusing him of being “a liar” and “a thief for stealing a point from me”.
The game penalty put Osaka 5-3 up and the 20-year-old Japanese kept her cool to pull off the win.
Mouratoglou later admitted he had been coaching but in another strange twist an unrepentant Williams continued to deny she had received any advice and was instead a victim of sexism.
“He (Ramos) alleged that I was cheating, and I wasn’t cheating,” said Williams. “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff.
“For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark.”