New York: The events and the arguing and the booing made this year'sU.S. Open final unique when Serena Williams' coach made what she insisted was an innocent thumbs-up, but the chair umpire interpreted as a helpful signal.
It was the second game of the second set Saturday, in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Williams' bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title already was in real trouble because she was being outplayed by first-time major finalist Naomi Osaka. Osaka eventually won the match 62, 6-4.
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos warned Williams for getting coaching during a match, which isn't allowed. She briefly disputed that ruling, saying cheating "is the one thing I've never done, ever." A few games later, Williams received another warning, this time for smashing her racket, and that second violation cost her a point, leading to more arguing. Eventually, Willams called Ramos "a thief," drawing a third violation — and costing her a game.
"I have never cheated in my life!" Williams told Ramos. "You owe me an apology."
Soon, Osaka got her landmark victory that made her the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam singles title. However, the match will be remembered more for its behavioural twists and near chaotic scenes.
With jeers bouncing off the arena's closed roof, both players — the champion, Osaka, and the runner-up, Williams — wiped away tears during a trophy ceremony that was awkward for everyone involved.
"I just feel like I had a lot of emotions," Osaka said, "so I had to kind of categorize what was which emotion."
Williams whispered something to Osaka and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.