Serena Williams dominated headlines after last year’s controversial US Open defeat, but not for winning the coveted title, but for her verbal altercations with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, which seemingly overshadowed Naomi Osaka’s first Grand Slam crown.
Ramos penalized Williams for three separate on-court violations for illegal coaching, breaking her racket and verbal abuse.
The then-20-year-old Osaka prevailed against her idol 6-2, 6-4 in New York.
The 37-year-old is opening up about that day, sharing her side of the story in a candid essay for Harper's Bazaar.
“This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic,” Williams wrote. “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.
The tennis icon admitted the loss took an emotional toll on her, leading her to seek therapy and she even sent Osaka an apology after the match.
“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,” Williams wrote. “I started to type, slowly at first, then faster as if the words were flowing out of me.”
The mother of one even revealed the text she sent to Osaka, which read, “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.”
She continued, "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.”
Serena closed with, "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, your fan, Serena."
But it was Osaka's reply that reduced the sports phenom to tears, “People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two. No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.”
Williams, who has won the second-most singles titles in women’s Grand Slam history, then wrote that the U.S. Open match “exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day.”
The same day her essay was released, Williams defeated Alison Riske to advance to the Wimbledon semifinals. Should Williams prevail, she would tie Margaret Court with 24 major singles titles, the most of all time.
We stan two queens who are dedicated to accountability, women empowerment and genuine support.