This really is shameful all around. Serena Williams is mercurial and explosive, in a sport filled with some rather intense characters. She's used to winning, as are her fans. But her attitude during her U.S. Open loss to Naomi Osaka was beyond simple pique at losing. It was as if Williams thought it was her right to win, and her treatment of the officials made a $17,000 fine seem insufficient punishment.
(Williams' coach admitted he signaled from the crowd, a violation of rules, which is, bluntly, cheating. And Serena's 6-2, 6-4 loss to Osaka was hardly the result of a "thief." She was beaten, soundly, fair and square.)
"I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say 'thief' and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark," she said. "He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief.'"
Nobody took Williams' game from her, except Naomi Osaka, that is. This entire farce has been about Williams, and her screaming fit, and now sexism, when it should be about a 20-year-old who was shamed because she won.
In the weakest praise ever given to a deserving winner, who beat her own childhood idol at a sport she dedicated her life to, Williams said after Osaka was booed at the trophy presentation:
"Let's give everyone the credit where credit's due and let's not boo anymore," she told the crowd. "We're going to get through this and let's be positive. So congratulations, Naomi. No more booing."
Let's not boo the winner because she's Japanese, I think Williams meant. Or maybe let's not boo her "because she's not me," if we want to be more generous. The fact that the U.S. Open crowd would boo a young Japanese player for beating a diva like Williams is contemptible.
I shouldn't even have to explain why, but in case you believe there's a racist hiding under every rock, Japanese in America are already discriminated against in very real terms, under the doctrine that they aren't as worthy of equal treatment as other, more favored minorities. Just last week, the Justice Department backed a lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans, a charge the school denies.
“Harvard today engages in the same kind of discrimination and stereotyping that it used to justify quotas on Jewish applicants in the 1920s and 1930s,” Students for Fair Admissions said in a court filing.
If it's good enough for Harvard, I suppose it's good enough for tennis to cheer for the supposedly-disadvantaged African-American woman, who is worth an estimated $180 million, and boo the Japanese woman who could not bear to show her countenance as she cried at her own victory ceremony.
When everything becomes a social justice cause, then nothing remains pure, fair, or sportsmanlike. Williams and her fans are the ones who should be ashamed. And all sports has been diminished by this shabby display of false victimhood and meanness.