On September 9, 2018, Serena Williams played in the U.S. Open against Naomi Osaka, who represented Japan to win the Grand Slam singles tournament. Naomi Osaka defeated Serena in this match and became the first Haitian-Japanese woman to win the U.S. Open. Both ladies fought hard for the title, but during the match, a disagreement happened between the Umpire (an official who watches the match closely to make sure the rules are being followed and settle any disputes that may occur) and Serena Williams. In this disagreement, Serena called out a major issue that happens often in tennis (and many other sports) which is sexism.
This struck a chord within me because as a young black woman, I have experienced sexism, not in the sports realm, but in academia and everyday life situations. It's hard being a black woman who strives to fight for what's unfair, our passions, and equality. We are often seen as being crazy or acting "ghetto" for calling out people out on remarks that are racist and sexist. Throughout the game, she was penalized for smashing her racket and "verbal abuse."
Serena called the Umpire a thief because of the penalty ruling and was fined $17,000 for the violations. While talking to the Umpire she said, "I don't cheat to win, I'd rather lose." which shows not only her incredible sportsmanship but her overall character as an athlete and Black woman. This hasn't been the only form of discrimination that Serena has faced as an athlete in this sport. She's been drug tested more than any other tennis athlete and was even banned from wearing a black catsuit that was used to help blood circulation after her difficult childbirth.
During the press conference that took place after the match, Serena said "I'm here fighting for women's rights and 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." I agree with this because according to Serena, men in tennis have called Umpire's all sorts of names and have never gotten penalized for it. Also, many of us can see through everyday life experiences (in various social settings) that men are hardly punished for the sexist remarks they make. As a Black woman, its hard navigating spaces like these because of the constant discrimination we experience within them.
Black women are seen as being "overemotional" in these settings when men are seen as being "outspoken." It's not fair and men deserve to have the same repercussions that are given to us. The way that Black women are portrayed in contrast to men is a double standard that has got to go. We need more people to call out those who are being complacent on this issue to see change. There are more voices needed for there to be any sort of progress. Both Naomi and Serena were left in tears after the match and this should have never happened. They both deserved to have a positive match and that was taken from them. Both women exhibited a level of Black Girl Magic that was incredible.