McWilliams: Serena Williams’ actions in U.S. Open were justified

Leta McWilliams

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Over the past week, Serena Williams has been receiving backlash in response to her dispute with umpire Carlos Ramos during the 2018 U.S. Open Match. Though many people have shown support for Williams, others are degrading her reputation and it’s unjustified. Williams has been fighting against racism and sexism since the start of her career, and this is just another example.

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Many try to take away from Williams’ achievements by comparing her to male tennis players.

John McEnroe, a retired American tennis player, belittled Williams by saying, “if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.” McEnroe later said that he thinks Williams is an incredible player, but regardless of his intention McEnroe is still marginalizing Williams’ success.

According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency database, Williams has been tested more than any other top American women’s tennis player. Williams also said in July that she was already drug tested five times this year, which is a blatant act of discrimination, targeting Williams based on her skin color.

During the 2018 French Open, Williams wore a “catsuit” that was quickly banned and criticized. Williams said she wore the outfit to help with her blood clots, which she has suffered from for over a year. Regardless of the medical benefits, people called the outfit disrespectful to the sport.

On top of everything else Williams has faced in her career, people have made countless comments on her appearance, saying she’s ugly and resembles an ape.

After the U.S. Open, an extremely insensitive cartoon was published, which showed Williams throwing a tantrum and resembling a baby. 

After facing all of that negativity, it’s completely justified that Williams would be upset after the U.S. Open. Ramos targeted her character, accused her of cheating and penalized her for breaking her racket even though men are praised for doing the same.

McEnroe was notorious for throwing “tantrums” during his matches, even labeled as one of the bad boys of tennis. Many male tennis players throw tantrums, fight with the umpire and break their rackets during games. Compared to those outbursts, Williams was pretty respectful. Her response was far from a tantrum.

Some people are upset on behalf of Williams’ opponent Naomi Osaka, which is fair. Osaka’s win was overshadowed in the media by Williams’ argument with the umpire.  But Osaka wasn’t upset by Williams’ actions. Osaka has looked up to Williams for years and has stated multiple times that she isn’t upset with Williams.

It’s no secret that women’s sports are marginalized, especially women’s collegiate sports. Williams’ argument wasn’t only for her sake, but for every woman who has felt that she has been treated poorly during her athletic career. 

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To be upset on behalf of Osaka is justified, but to say Williams’ actions during the U.S. Open were overreacting just shows blatant ignorance toward the racism and sexism she’s been facing her entire career.

Leta McWilliams can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LetaMcWilliams.