Naomi Osaka has revealed she had no idea what was going on between Serena Williams and the referee in her grand final at the US Open on Saturday.
Osaka, 20, told The Ellen Show she was taught not to pay attention if her opponent got angry, so she could stay focused.
‘I was looking away, but I heard a lot of people in the crowd making noises, and I really wanted to turn around, but I didn’t,’ she said.
She revealed that despite having beaten the former world champion, Williams was quick to comfort her among the jeers of the crowd echoing through the arena as she received her trophy.
‘[Williams] said she was proud of me, and that I should know the crowd isn’t booing at me,’ Osaka said.
‘I was really happy she said that.’
The Japanese player said she thought the jeers were directed at her, and began to get a bit overwhelmed by the situation, having missed Williams’ argument with the umpire.
Williams was fined $17,000 after losing a point and a game for various code violations.
She first erupted at umpire Carlos Ramos after being given a code violation for coaching, after her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was spotted giving hand signals in the first set – which is against the rules.
In the second set, she slammed her racket into the ground when she was broken back for 3-2, after which she was given a point penalty.
She repeatedly insulted the umpire, calling him a liar and a thief and demanding an apology for her cheating violation, leading him to issue a third code violation, which saw a game awarded to Osaka.
‘I never got coaching. I explained that to you and for you to attack my character then something is wrong. You’re attacking my character. Yes you are. You owe me an apology,’ she told him.
‘You will never, ever, ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar. When are you going to give me my apology? You owe me an apology.’
At this point, the score was 3-5 and Williams could not recover, and Osaka won the game.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner argued she had been unfairly penalized for offences that men routinely get away with, calling it ‘sexist’.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King agreed with Williams, claiming there is a double standard for men and that athletes should not be punished for their coach’s actions.
King, who won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, including four US Opens, tweeted ‘Several things went very wrong during the Women’s Finals today,’ on Saturday.
‘Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.
‘When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions.
‘Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.’
The Japanese player won $3.8million, and told Ellen while she did not own a car, she would prefer to spend her prize money on her parents.