HomeSportSerena Williams' US Open final outburst with Naomi Osaka had insults, smashed...

Serena Williams’ US Open final outburst with Naomi Osaka had insults, smashed rackets and tears


The 2018 US Open final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will go down as one of the most controversial in history.

Williams was the huge favourite, going for her 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court’s record, while Osaka was the 20-year-old underdog.

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Williams was involved in a furious row with the refereeCredit: Getty

The fact that Williams was even on the tennis court was a miracle after being bed-ridden for six weeks in 2017 following the birth of her daughter Olympia.

She suffered life-threatening blood clots, but battled back to be involved in the final at the US Open just a year later.

Osaka, who grew up idolising her opponent, shocked the tennis world by winning 6-2 6-4, but that far from tells the story.

Williams was involved in a furious row with umpire Carlos Ramos, as he gave her three code violations during the match.

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He judged her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, to have been coaching from the sidelines by using some hand gestures.

Williams vehemently denied the accusations, saying she would ‘never cheat to win and would rather lose’.

Mouratoglou later admitted to have been coaching her.

“I was coaching but I don’t think she looked at me,” he said. “Sash [Osaka’s coach Sascha Bajin] was coaching as well. Everybody does it.”

Williams was unhappy at being given the code violations

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Williams was unhappy at being given the code violationsCredit: Getty

The second code violation then came after she smashed her racket while Osaka was 3-2 up in the second set, meaning her opponent started the next game 15-0 up.

Williams continued her outbursts at Ramos at the following changeover, while the crowd booed in favour of the US superstar.

“You are a liar. You will never be on a court of mine as long as you live. When are you going to give me my apology? Say you are sorry,” she demanded.

Ramos docked Williams a game, leaving Osaka at 5-3 and just one match away from victory.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner refused to take to the court, asking to speak to the tournament referee.

She did eventually go back out and held serve, before Osaka kept her never to win the title.

Williams called for the tournament referee during the final to make her point

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Williams called for the tournament referee during the final to make her pointCredit: Getty

Williams later accused the referee of sexism, saying: “He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’.”

Boos rained down during the trophy presentation with Osaka pulling her visor down over her face to cover her tears.

She said: “I’m sorry. I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I’m sorry that it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match. 

“Thank you. … It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals, so I’m really glad that I was able to do that. I’m really grateful that I was able to play with you. Thank you.”

Williams would later go on to apologise in a letter to Osaka, as she revealed in an essay in Harper’s BAAZAR.

Osaka was in tears during the presentation ceremony

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Osaka was in tears during the presentation ceremonyCredit: Getty

“Not only was a game taken from me but a defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player, something she should remember as one of the happiest memories in her long and successful career,” Williams wrote. “My heart broke.”

She continued: “As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again. 

“I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete. I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you. All my love and your fan, Serena.”

The pair remain good friends off the court, despite the US Open debacle, with Osaka jokingly tagging Williams as ‘mom’ in a Twitter post in 2020.

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The Japan tennis star would go on to win three more Grand Slam titles, two in Australia and one more in New York.

For Williams, she remained stranded on her 23 major singles titles as she lost two more finals before retiring from the game in 2022.





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