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Naomi Osaka Defeats Serena Williams In Controversial U.S. Open Final


It is what everyone is talking about today. And there are many opinions on what happened during the women's final of the U.S. Open. Naomi Osaka of Japan beat Serena Williams, who was trying to equal Margaret Court's all-time grand slam record. But there was a lot more to it than that when a confrontation erupted on the court. Tennis legend Billie Jean King called what happened a symptom of a double standard. Chris Evert said she'd never seen anything like it. And many others called out what they said was sexism on the part of a match umpire. Joining us now for one view of what happened is Tennis Channel anchor and announcer Mary Carillo, also a former professional tennis player who's played at the U.S. Open. Welcome to the program.

MARY CARILLO: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A lot to talk about. Let's tackle the controversy first. Remind us, briefly, what happened.

CARILLO: First and foremost, Naomi Osaka is an unbelievably good 20-year-old player who deserved a clean victory. She was outplaying and playing with more poise than Serena Williams. And that's going to get lost in the sauce, which really bothers me. Serena was - early in the second set of this championship match, the chair umpire - a very good one named Carlos Ramos - called her a code violation because he saw Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena's coach, give her hand signals.

Patrick admitted afterwards that, in fact, he was doing that. Serena maintained - and I believe her when she says this - that she was not trying to get coached. I mean, she does not need or want coaching. But a lot of coaches do that from the stands. And that's true, as well. So she got thumped for that. And the fact that the chair umpire would accuse Serena of cheating, just - that's the thing that drove her more nuts than anything.


CARILLO: So that started it. And she spent the rest of the match feeling that her reputation, her character had been impugned. Then she threw her racket after she lost the game. And that is called racket abuse. That's another code violation, for which she was fined one point. And that did not sit well with her. She continued to harangue the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, calling him, among other things, a thief for stealing points from her and a liar for accusing her of cheating.

At that point, he gave her a verbal abuse code violation, which cost a game. And I honestly don't think it had escalated to a point where - I'm not sure Serena knew that if she was going to keep that up, she would be docked a game, which meant that now Naomi Osaka was up 5-3 instead of 4-3 in the second set. Then she called out the tour supervisor and the tournament referee and went on and on. And now it's mob rule. Now the fans are booing. And here is this 20-year-old kid, who has every right to be winning this match cleanly, who's getting booed. And Naomi Osaka - I mean, spare a thought for this kid. That she was able to navigate her way through is astonishing to me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We don't have much time left, but I just want to get your take on it. I mean, what do you think happened there? You know, Serena, essentially, was saying she was being penalized for being a woman. Is she right?

CARILLO: She - no. No. And I don't think it's fair. Yeah. She was basically accusing the chair umpire of sexism. And guys say much worse things that - guys shouldn't say much worse things, either, by the way. And Carlos Ramos I consider to be a very good umpire, a very fair umpire. He's consistent. And he called out Serena. I don't feel - I know a lot of women are saying - trying to make this into a #MeToo movement thing. I really don't feel that that's what happened. I don't - Serena is a star. She is not my north star. I - when she's saying she's doing this for all women, I - no. I - look. She behaved poorly.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: She behaved - that's your take. Mary Carillo, I'm sorry. We're going to have to leave it there. Tennis Channel anchor and announcer. Thank you very much.

CARILLO: Sure, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.