New York — Serena Williams insisted she was not cheating in the US Open final on Saturday before accusing the sport that has made her a global icon and multi- millionaire of sexism.
The final was overshadowed by the American’s angry and tear-filled tirade in the second set. The 36-year-old was given a code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling umpire Carlos Ramos a "liar and a thief".
"He alleged I was cheating, and I wasn’t," Williams said later. "I don’t use on-court coaching. It’s the one time I don’t want to hear anyone tell me anything. You have to problem-solve."
Williams said that her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had not been coaching her even though the Frenchman told ESPN that he had and that all coaches do it.
"What is he talking about? Because we don’t have signals. We have never discussed signals," said Williams.
She said the incident strengthened her belief that female players are treated differently from male counterparts in the sport. "I’ve seen men call umpires several things. 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’."
Williams made reference to the incident last week when French player Alize Cornet was warned for removing her shirt on court during a heatwave. Cornet was accused of unsporting behaviour before tournament chiefs admitted the umpire made the wrong decision.
"Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine," said Williams. "I feel like the fact that I have to go through this is an example for the next person that has emotions and that want to express themselves and want to be a strong woman.
"They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person."