Serena Williams has had her share of challenges when it comes to competing in the past few weeks. A few weeks ago, the French Tennis Federation proposed banning catsuits from being worn during matches, using her famous black catsuit as an example that the game has “gone too far” and athletes must “respect the game and the place.” In the ultimate “I do what I want” move, Williams showed up to a subsequent match donning a black tutu, emphasizing that the game is about making moves on the court and not in your closet.
In a recent incident, Williams is calling out sexism that she believes is rampant in the sport. Williams was beat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka in a Grand Slam showdown, and while she displayed tremendous showmanship to her opponent, she wasn’t leaving the court until she had a few words with umpire Carlos Ramos.
CNN reports Williams accused the umpire of sexism at Saturday’s match after being handed a series of code violations. The initial code violation stemmed from Ramos’ belief that Williams was receiving coaching from the stands in the form of hand signals from coach Patrick Mouratoglou from the stands. She then went on to receive a point penalty for smashing her racket and then a game penalty for confronting the umpire when she accused him of unfair calls, saying:
“I understand why you may have thought that was coaching but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”
“You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life,” she said to him. “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.”
Williams continued to defend her name while accusing Ramos of attacking her character reminding him of who exactly she is and what she’s about in front of a crowd who wildly cheered her on:
“I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right for her.”
Afterwards, Williams explained her frustration in a press conference noting that female athletes are often penalized for their passion while male athletes who engage in the same behavior are enabled and sometimes even applauded:
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark.”
“He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”
Tennis athletes took to social media in support of Williams’ stance. Legendary tennis star Billie Jean King shared her thoughts on the double standard:
Retired player Andy Roddick admits that he has said much worse while competing at matches and faced zero consequences:
“I’ve regrettably said worse and I’ve never gotten a game penalty.”
Williams has and will continue to be a winner for women, mothers and athletes alike everywhere regardless of how many titles she wins. You can watch her defend her honor and give us all a lesson in empowerment and playing fair below: