Tennis star, Serena Williams has opened up on her outburst at the 2018 US Open game between her and eventual winner, Naomi Osaka.
Recall that Serena Williams lost the game after she complained when the umpire alleged that her coach was giving her signs. She had bursted out in anger stating that the decision by the umpire was sexist.
Serena Williams revealed that she went for therapy to help her deal with the controversy and that she apologized to Naomi Osaka.
She made this known in a lengthy essay she shared in the August 2019 issue of Harper’s Barzar.
Speaking on what keeps her going on the court despite challenges, she said:
“I have been asked what keeps me motivated to continue playing tennis. To me, the answer is simple: I love the sport. When I’m giving speeches I always say how important it is to love what you do. If you don’t, then find something that speaks to you. Follow your passion.”
On the controversy that happened at the 2018 US Open game, she said:
“…September 2018. It’s the final of the US Open, and I’m competing to win my 24th Grand Slam against Naomi Osaka. It’s the beginning of the second set, and the umpire thinks he spots my coach signaling me from the stands. He issues a violation—a warning. I approach him and emphatically state the truth: that I wasn’t looking at my coach. ‘I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,’ I said. I walk back to the court and lose the next point. I smash my racket in frustration; he issues another violation and gives a point to my opponent. I feel passionately compelled to stand up for myself. I call him a thief; I again demand an apology. I tell him he is penalizing me for being a woman. He responds by issuing a third violation and takes a game from me. In the end, my opponent simply played better than me that day and ended up winning her first Grand Slam title. I could not have been happier for her.”
Serena Williams revealed that the backlash she received following the controversial game made her seek therapy.
“I still couldn’t find peace. I started seeing a therapist. I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racket. Finally I realized that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologize to the person who deserved it the most. I started to type, slowly at first, then faster as if the words were flowing out of me. ‘Hey, Naomi! It’s Serena Williams. 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.’”
She also revealed how Naomi Osaka reacted when she apologized.
“When Naomi’s response came through, tears rolled down my face. ‘People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two,’ she said graciously. ‘No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.’”