Wildfire Sparked by Williams

By Yann Caradec (Flickr: Serena Williams) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

BY LAUREN ESCHENBRENNER

Over the course of a couple weeks, Serena Williams , United States singles tennis athlete, has been trending on mass media, under fire for not only her calling out sexism but for losing the US Open’s Final.

Williams is considered the best woman athlete in singles tennis from 2002-2017 on eight separate occasions in the United States. She has been recently  trending on social media because of her matches in the U.S. Open tournament and because of her response to the world when the president of the French Tennis Federation banned Williams’ signature ‘Black Panther’ suit. The President, Bernard Giudicelli, claims that “one must respect the game and place,” referring to the new dress code for the open.

However, the so called ‘Black Panther’ suit Williams had customized for her was not necessarily made for style, but for her health issues. Since Williams gave birth to her daughter in 2017, she’s been having “a lot of problems with [her] blood clots.” In an issue of Vogue, Williams explained that she had suffered a pulmonary embolism after her daughter was born. Blood clots had formed in her leg veins, and a portion of the clot broke off and traveled to her lungs, resulting  in the blockage of blood flow to her lungs. Without medical intervention, the result could have been far more serious.

In response to the ban, she showed up to the U.S. Open in a black tutu, and Williams reached the finals of the Open.

On Tuesday, September 4th, Williams faced Karolína Plíšková from the Czech Republic in the Quarter Finals of the Open, winning the match 6-4, and 6-3. On Thursday, September 6th, Williams faced Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the Semi-Finals, winning the match 6-3, and 6-0. For the grand finale on Saturday, September 8th, Williams faced Naomi Osaka  of Japan, losing in aces 2-6, and 4-6. Osaka is the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam singles tournament.

However, it wasn’t the loss that sparked the uproar from the media, but rather the penalty Williams faces for arguing with the umpire of the Finals match against Osaka. Williams is being fined $17,000 for code violations and verbal abuse towards umpire Carlos Ramos because he claims he saw her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, making hand signals to her from her player’s box. She was given a coaching violation after calling the umpire a “liar” and a “thief” and claimed that he allegedly wouldn’t treat a man like he treated her. Upon being deducted another point for smashing her racket, she was further docked from the game in a third violation. Williams fired back that she would rather lose than “cheat to win.”

The situation has once again raised the topic of sexism in sports. Williams says she is “fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality.” Williams asserts that her behavior at the event is seen as a meltdown while other male athletes have demonstrated similar behavior during games all the time, without penalty. . How often does a baseball player slam their helmet on the ground after striking out? How often do football teams wrestle and fight against each other when the clock isn’t running? If she’s going to be punished for her ‘meltdown’, shouldn’t everyone else?

Williams, who will always be a fantastic athlete, will face fire surrounding these circumstances. , Perhaps she was in the wrong, but she sparked a good question of why it hasn’t happened with this much force before.