Absolutely not! The champion that Serena Williams is should have been able to rise above the call. Take it a step further, since she constantly talks about Jehovah, her faith that this trial would only make her a better player should have allowed her to rise above what she perceived was a “sexist response”. In her defense, the umpire (Carlos Ramos) could have given her a warning that the next perceived coaching observed, he would assess her a code violation; however, in the defense of the umpire, he was in his right to follow the rules and the fact that he chose to be so stringent is a reflection on the subjective nature of the rules. Williams then proceeded to complicate things by breaking her racquet, at which point she was assessed a point penalty.
She should have left it at that and could have potentially fought her way back; however, she made it almost impossible to make a comeback by calling the umpire a thief for stealing a point from her on the changeover, at which point she was assessed a game penalty. The score was initially 4-3 with Osaka about to serve; however, Osaka did not have to serve and the score changed to 5-3 in favor of Osaka.
Every player knows the rules, they know that two code violations equals a point penalty and the third a game penalty. The rules are also very subjective and depend on who is the umpire on that day. Some umpires are more lenient; however, Ramos is not. Given the fact that Williams was on the brink of losing she should have tried to stay calm; however, emotions were running wild and she gave into the temptation to verbalize her frustration. Unfortunately for her, it was the final straw for the umpire and she did not get the opportunity to fight to possibly break her opponent. Would she have broken her opponent and perhaps make one of her famous comeback? We will never know.
Yet, there is more to this story. Williams by her comments is obviously feeling that when it comes to the US Open, she is more closely scrutinized and penalized. Is that a fact or is the pressure that she feels to win another major skewing her perspective? No matter what we think, at the end of the day, Williams is human and susceptible to the effects of human emotions and pressure. We will never fully comprehend the immense pressure that she puts on herself or the public places on her to win another major. As much as she professes that she has nothing to prove, we know the truth, she wants to win as many majors as possible.
We also know that the pressure has taken a toll on her game. History has shown us that the best predictor of future behavior is usually past behavior. This behavior from Williams is not new; she has a history of being vulnerable to the negative effects of pressure at the majors. In 2009, she was a dominant favorite to win another major, yet another “controversial call by the lines person and then the umpire” completely derailed her and she lost the match to Kim Clijsters in the semifinals of the US Open. Fast forward to 2015, she was going to officially win the career Grand Slam; all she had to do was get by Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the US Open and her final opponent. She won the first set in a convincing manner and then the proverbial wheels came off and Williams lost to Vinci. In 2016 she lost in the semifinals of the US Open to the eleventh ranked, Karolina Pliskova, which brings us to this fiasco at the 2018 US Open.
Williams should not have been surprised by the quality of tennis from Naomi Osaka; Osaka beat her easily earlier this season at a tournament where Williams has been dominant, the Miami Open. I am saddened that things deteriorated so badly and affected the play of both players; however, considering the opposition that Osaka was facing, she kept her composure much better than expected. As much as many would have loved to see Williams win that twenty-fourth major title; we must remember and give credit to the brilliant performance of Osaka. She had immense pressure too, and she stayed amazingly composed for someone so young. On one of the biggest stages of tennis, Osaka defeated her idol and the greatest female tennis player of this generation.
Williams was also fined 17,000.00 for her code violations (coaching violation, racquet abuse and verbal abuse).
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