Back in 2018 at the US Open, you may remember Serena Williams had a bit of a verbal altercation with a referee.
The altercation occurred after Williams was given a warning for receiving coaching from her trainer who was in the stands. Following that, stemming from her original frustration with the referee, along with her inability to execute, she slammed her racket against the ground, resulting in a second violation. Finally, she went on a tirade against the referee accusing him of being a “thief” and stealing a point from her in a very pivotal point of a US Open Final.
This sequence of events obviously went on to gain a lot of national media attention and went on to overshadow the amazing feat the 20-year-old Naomi Osaka had just accomplished. That was Osaka’s first ever major win, and it came against someone she openly admired.
In an open and candid letter to Harper’s Bazaar Serena Williams opens up about the incident again.
Serena writes that, “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.”
She noted to Osaka that she was “truly sorry,” but still said that she “thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself.”
Osaka agreed in a letter that she wrote back to Williams following the US Open in September.
“People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two,” Osaka replied, according to Williams. “No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.”
Trailblazing is what got Serena to the point she is in the tennis world now. It was truly commendable for Serena to consider her opponent during a time of intense grieving, competition and pain for someone who quite frankly, just is not use to losing.
There is obviously mutual respect on both sides of the spectrum, and despite Williams outburst over-shadowing Osaka’s win that day, Williams still showed ultimate humility, and compassion.