Despite Naomi Osaka becoming the first Haitian-Japanese woman to win the U.S. Open championship yesterday, the mood in the tennis world was far from celebratory. Over the course of the match, a frustrated Serena Williams, back on the court just a year after nearly dying in childbirth, questioned the umpire’s rulings when she received penalties for apparent coaching and racquet abuse. She demanded an apology and defended herself, saying that she’d rather lose than cheat, and that if a male player exhibited the same behavior as her, the punishment would not be as severe. During the award ceremony, the agitated crowd even booed, and Williams had to tell them not to so that everyone could celebrate Osaka’s first Grand Slam title.
Though the women’s tournament is now over, the controversy is still hot on Twitter, where many celebrities are defending Williams and supporting Osaka, pointing out that it’s better to celebrate two highly accomplished athletes rather than let a man in a chair usurp their moment. “All praise to both 👑👑s @serenawilliams the best athlete the world has ever seen & @Naomi_Osaka_ demonstrating #BlackGirlMagic & fierce determination. Very proud. Tears watching the hug 🌟👑🌟👑,” wrote Gabrielle Union.
Ava DuVernay echoed similar sentiments, writing, “Two queens stepped onto that court to win today. Two queens step off the court to play another day. Majesty from end to end. Even in the rough patches. Brava to both. And congratulations to @Naomi_Osaka_ for claiming your place in history.”
Gigi Hadid was sad but inspired, posting, “What happened was just not fair. I’m hurting for S, but am inspired by both ladies’ class. Just a very sad way for the USO to end.. regardless of the winner.”
Gymnast Aly Raisman, who like Williams has long advocated for better treatment of female athletes, added, “Proud of @Naomi_Osaka_ & @serenawilliams they have inspired me in so many ways. Serena thanks for continuing to be such a leader and voice for women. We appreciate you 💗”
Legends of women’s tennis Billie Jean King and Chris Evert also gave their opinions on the match, just in case you’d like your opinions with a side of expert: