Naomi Osaka revisited the 2018 US Open final -- where she played Serena Williams -- in the latest installment of the Amanda de Cadenet-hosted podcast 'VS Voices'.
The Japanese lifted her maiden Grand Slam title in New York, but the occasion was marred by a number of controversial moments involving Williams.
Williams got into a couple of heated arguments with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who gave the former champion multiple warnings and penalties over the course of the encounter. Things came to a head with the American accusing the umpire of being a "thief" and a "liar" and facing further penalties.
Williams would go on to lose the match, but the outcome of the final was overshadowed by the media's focus on Williams' altercations with Ramos.
Osaka, who has since gone on to lift three more Grand Slam trophies, feels that inherent sexism is behind the whole situation being blown out of proportion. During the podcast she pointed out how male players get away with worse on-court behavior, before adding that none of those incidents ever make headlines.
“Definitely if a male player did that it wouldn’t have been so broadcasted,” Osaka said. “There’s actually been male players that have done far worse, like literally last year and this year, and they don’t get news reports at all."
"So, I’m not sure if it’s because Serena is Serena," she continued. "Or [if] people just wanted to write negative things."
Notably, Williams had also, at the time of the initial controversy, highlighted the differential treatment metted out to male and female tennis players' on-court outbursts.
Osaka, for her part, said that she could not have predicted what would have happened if the incident had involved male players. She was quick to add that the media had always been interested in Williams and that the altercations at the 2018 final were "unfortunately" timed, gathering widespread interest.
"I can’t say that if we were both male players the outcome would have been the same way," Osaka said. "But I can say that people are very interested in Serena and whatever she does is going to get attention. And it was just unfortunate that it had to be that moment that caught a lot of people’s interest.”
Serena Williams busy promoting King Richard, the biopic based on her father's life
Serena Williams has not competed on the WTA Tour since suffering an injury during her opening-round match at the 2021 Wimbledon Championships.
The American, however, has kept herself busy with off-court activities, including promoting King Richard, a biopic based on her father's life. She was recently spotted attending a premiere for the film alongside sister Venus Williams.
Serena Williams shared photographs from the night on her social media accounts.
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