Serena Williams is on the Right Side of an Issue Bigger Than Tennis
As some may know Saturday, Sept. 8, was the women’s single finals for the U.S Open in tennis. Here, reigning champ Serena Williams went up against first time grand slam finalist Naomi Osaka. The match was a complete upset, ending with an Osaka win, but that wasn’t the story gaining momentum from this match.
What has everyone talking is how Williams, attempting her 24th Grand Slam title, was penalized and fined $17,000 after receiving three penalties from the chair umpire; one for her coach making a gesture in the stands, which is barred in tennis, one for breaking her racket on a point, and the third deducted for her outburst at the chair. Now to most people this seems reasonable, but in reality, it is most certainly sexist.
While Williams was in the wrong, she was also discriminated against with her penalties. Men in tennis have always shown aggression towards the umpires, not only verbally but violently, breaking their rackets as Williams did. Male tennis players have, for years, used foul language towards the umpires. John McEnroe is notorious for his violence on and off the court, between racket breaking and threats towards the umpires. So why is Williams being penalized while men in her place seemingly get off easy for the same type of actions?
Women today are speaking up more frequently in search of equality. Williams is just another example of society judging men and women by a different standard. Had Williams been male, the chair umpire probably would have just ignored the comments or the breaking of a racket and continued the match. I have seen male players do exactly what Williams did when a match didn’t go their way, and yet they did not face penalties. Why make an example of Williams and not her male counterparts? Despite losing her temper, she supported Osaka by telling the crowd to stop booing and put her arm around her in support of her fellow opponent.
Williams is right to speak out about this and stand up for her beliefs as a woman. This wasn’t just some random outburst on her part, but an outburst on gender bias and equality. So, I raise the question again, why should she be fined for something that men do all the time in tennis or any sport for that matter? I applaud Williams for taking a stand the way she did, not just as a woman, but as an example to her daughter and daughters everywhere.
What happened at the U.S. Open has once again opened up a dialogue over gender biases and double standards. This goes for all women who seem to find themselves in a position where the men will always have the exception to the rules: always speak up in light of sexism or inequality. Whether or not it works for you, there’s hope that maybe the next time the same thing happens it will work out differently.