New York City, USA : Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams in a dramatic women’s singles final, 6-2, 6-4, to claim her first career Grand Slam title. Osaka held her nerve to serve out the match and halt Williams, who was contesting her second final in as many majors, from tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 women’s singles titles.
After prevailing over her idol, Osaka becomes the 11th woman in the Open Era to win her first major at the US Open.
The match saw the American lose composure after she was assessed penalties for abusing her racquet and arguing with the chair umpire.
Serena Williams argued with a chair umpire during the U.S. Open finals who gave her several penalities, telling him “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose.” Williams lost the match 6-2-, 6-4 to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, who won her first ever Grand Slam.
Williams tearfully demanded an apology from chair umpire Carols Ramos when he handed a game penalty to Osaka.
Ramos gave Williams several code penalities: The first one is a warning for a coaching violation, the second warning was when she broke her racket, which gave a point to Osaka. Williams was given a third penalty for calling Ramos a thief. On that penalty, it put Osaka up 5-3, meaning she only needed one more game to win the match.
Williams told Ramos that she was not being coached, and she would never cheat. She demanded an apology, calling him a “thief” and a liar.”
“I have never cheated in my life,” Williams said. “I have a daughter and I stand for what is right and I have never cheated.”
When a second code violation for racket abuse was handed out to her – along with a point penalty – Williams exploded.
“You’re attacking my character,” she said. “You will never, ever be on another court of mine. You are the liar,” she fumed and Ramos handed her a game penalty that put Osaka one game from victory at 5-3 in the second set.
Williams won the next game, and continued her tearful remonstrations with a supervisor on the changeover but Osaka – who displayed not only a stellar game but remarkable poise throughout – held serve to seal a historic win for her country.
Williams, seeking a first Grand Slam title since the birth of her daughter Olympia on September 1 2017, was denied a 24th Grand Slam title that would have matched Margaret Court’s all-time record.
As the pro-Williams crowed booed the announcers at the trophy presentation, Osaka was tearing up herself, but Williams urged the spectators to show the young champion respect.
“She played well,” Williams said, pausing to compose herself. “This is her first Grand Slam. “I know you guys were here rooting, but let’s make this the best moment we can. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit is due. Let’s not boo any more. Congratulations Naomi.”
When it was Osaka’s turn she seemed at a loss.
“I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” she said.
“It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals,” she added, turning to Williams herself. “I’m really grateful I was able to play with you, thank you.”
She also picked the $3.8 million winner’s cheque.
Osaka and Williams had played against each other once before, at Miami in March, and it was the Japanese upstart who used her formidable power to topple her idol in straight sets.
She repeated the same feat on Saturday night. But more important for her was that she had lived a dream.
“Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam. Just the fact that it’s happening, I’m very happy about it,” Osaka said after her semi-final win over 2017 runner-up Madison Keys.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe congratulated Osaka on Twitter and thanked her for “giving Japan a boost of inspiration at this time of hardship” — a likely reference to the earthquake that hit the northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday, killing at least 21 people.
Kei Nishikori, who lost in the men’s semi-finals to Novak Djokovic and was runner-up in 2014, posted a video of Osaka lifting the U.S. Open trophy on his Twitter page along with the hashtag #proud and a Japanese flag.
Japan has been charmed by Osaka’s off-court humility and genuineness as much as her on-court ferocity and that unpretentiousness came through in her post-match comments.