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Serena Williams Loses To Naomi Osaka In U.S. Open


Let's go to New York now for the U.S. Open women's finals. Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams for the title, but the big story was the drama. Serena was penalized three times by the chair umpire. She was docked points throughout the match after emotionally pushing back against those penalties. To hear more about this, we're joined now by NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thank you for joining us.


MARTIN: I know, right? What just happened here?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) OK. Let me try and get a handle on this. Three times she was penalize, as you say. First, there was a warning for coaching. Her coach, who was in his box. And he admitted afterwards that he was coaching her. And he said, everyone does it, and they never get penalized. Now, Serena was angry, and she told the chair umpire that she has never cheated. She would rather lose than cheat. And then move forward later, she smashed her racquet, destroyed it after losing a game and got a point penalty because it was considered a second violation.

And so Williams continued to berate the umpire even more about the first warning about cheating. She kept saying, you owe me an apology to the chair ump. And then she called him a thief during a changeover and another code violation. And he nailed her with a game penalty. And suddenly, it was 5-3 Osaka in the second set. Serena was crying and telling officials that they wouldn't have penalized her if she were a man. It was bizarre and surreal. And ultimately, sad for Osaka, who played the match of her life and earned the victory.

MARTIN: I do want to hear about Osaka in a minute, but I do have to ask you about that question. I mean, she said this would not have happened had she been a man. There's been a lot of conversation about the differential treatment or the alleged differences in treatment of men and women. The - an earlier player getting a penalty for changing her shirt, which men do all the time. What about it?

GOLDMAN: Well, boy. You know, I think if a man had gotten a third penalty and given a game violation, yes, I think that would have happened. I think, you know, what Serena was talking about - the unfairness of the entire thing. But what she wasn't taking into account, in the umpire's mind, this was an accumulation of penalties. And that's why he gave her the game violation. He said he was just trying to adhere to the rules.

MARTIN: And finally, Osaka. Tell me about her very, very briefly.

GOLDMAN: Twenty years old, first Japanese man or woman to win a Grand Slam event. She represents perhaps the next generation of great women tennis players who will try to fill the void left by Serena when she leaves competitive tennis.

MARTIN: Does she feel - did she seem happy after the match? I don't know. We don't even have time to...

GOLDMAN: Oh, no. She was crying. She was stunned. I mean, it was just - it was so emotional.

MARTIN: For all of us. That was NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thank you.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.