The tennis star opens up about the controversy around her US Open loss.

By Renee Cherry
July 10, 2019
Serena Williams of USA during her victory over Alison Riske of USA during Day Eight of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Credit: Visionhaus/Getty Images

Serena Williams penned a powerful essay about her US Open loss last year, as seen in the August 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar.

Quick refresher: Serena lost the Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open Women's Final to Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old representing Japan. The whole debacle blew up in the news, and not just because someone who'd never won a Grand Slam title had defeated a tennis icon.

During the final round, umpire Carlos Ramos gave Serena a violation for illegal coaching from her player box and she reacted, calling Ramos a thief for stealing a point from her and slamming her racket. Serena got hit with $17,000 in fines and the match was struck from her record. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Naomi Osaka, the 20-Year-Old Tennis Player Who Beat Serena Williams)

In the aftermath Serena spoke up, arguing her penalties were an example of sexism in sports. "[Ramos] never took a game from a man because they said 'thief,'" she said at a press conference. "For me it blows my mind. But I'm going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal [rights]."

In her Bazaar feature, Serena again argued that she'd received sexist treatment, and opened up about how she dealt with the ordeal in private. She went to therapy right after the loss. "Days passed, and I still couldn't find peace," she wrote. "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." (Related: Serena Williams Just Achieved a Major Career Milestone, and It's So Well-Deserved)

When Naomi was receiving a trophy for her win, Serena gave the athlete her moment and even asked the crowd to stop booing. However, after a media storm around the match, Serena still felt that apologizing directly to Naomi would allow her to move forward, she explained in her Bazaar essay.

Serena messaged Naomi an apology, saying she was "so proud of" her and that she "would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete."

Naomi responded: "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." (Related: Serena Williams Urges Women to Harness Their Power to Make Sh*t Happen In New Super Bowl Ad)