More people than ever are talking about the women’s finals of this weekend’s U.S. Open — not because of what happened on the court but because of drama on the sidelines. Not because of the skill and stellar play that helped Naomi Osaka win her first Grand Slam but because one of the greatest tennis players of all time was penalized for being too audacious, too outspoken, and yes, too unfeminine.
The story unfolded during the second set, as Serena Williams’ competitive spirit and aggressive style came through in a highly emotional way. She was accused of being coached, which she disputed, and received a code violation warning. She smashed her racket in frustration and got a point penalty. She demanded the umpire apologize for insinuating that she was cheating — calling him a “thief” for stealing the set from her — and was given a game penalty.