What Happened at the US Open

A Feminist's Perspective On Why Celebrating Serena William's Behavior Is Troubling

A personal take on the controversial match between tennis veteran Serena Williams and rising star Naomi Osaka.


It was the game that was heard around the world. With the #serena and #usopen trending across Twitter, and countless articles being posted on Facebook, everyone, including tennis greats like John Mcenroe and Billie Jean King seemed to be vocalizing their opinions.

Before you read any further on my own, personal perspective, however, I urge you to develop one of your own:

Here is the video that shows the "highlights" from the match, namely the ones that showed William's dispute with the umpire (via ESPN, liberal).

Here is an article that states that Serena's coach was directing her from the sidelines (via The South African, independent).

Here is an article that sums up opinions from past pro tennis players, both in support and in opposition. (via The Irish Examiner, independent).

Now that you've found your own take on what happened, hear me out on why I believe that Serena William's actions in this year's US Open final are not fully justified by the explanation of sexism and racism.

The chain of events that lead to the controversial conclusion began when the umpire, Carlos Ramos (a famous stickler for rules, with previous altercations with Rafael Nadal, and Serena's sister, Venus Williams) issued a "code violation" to Williams for a hand gesture her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had directed to her. Williams stated that she had not seen the gesture, and although Mouratoglou later admitted to coaching, he also mentioned that he did not think that she had seen it.

Serena, later on in the match, seemingly frustrated by the effort that Naomi Osaka was putting forward, smashed her racket, resulting in another code violation. Because this was her second one, this resulted in a point penalty. Williams, visibly upset by this, later engages in a heated exchange with umpire Carlos Ramos, resulting in a third violation and the forfeiting of a game (going from 4-3 to 5-3, Osaka).

Tennis, like any other sport, has its rules. Sure, you might not agree with them, and that's fine. But express your opinions off the court. In the case of this matchup, William's outspoken behavior resulted in a visibly distraught Naomi Osaka (whose idol was Williams and was booed by the audience for her win), and an inefficient and inappropriate handling by Katrina Adams who is the chairman and president of the USTA.

Following the argument that men frequently exhibit more outbursts, but are penalized less (which, in the terms of this U.S. Open, was simply not true as-"86 code violations of all sorts were given to men, compared with 22 for women.") should we really be encouraging women to celebrate such behavior? I understand the need for equality, and have been exposed to instances where sex was the deciding factor in a decision, rather than personal qualification and merit, but in the terms of sportsmanship and positive conduct, shouldn't we be advocating for taking the higher road instead?

A popular comparison between Serena William's actions this weekend is with the tennis legend John Mcenroe. He was famous for his court outbreaks and had many violations and penalties directed at him in his time. Although he is still considered a tennis great, Mcenroe has been the source for many controversies: even one directed at Williams. Mcenroe was known for being racist, crass, and seemingly uneducated on the field. This reputation has continued to follow him throughout the years, and he has even apologized and expressed remorse at his conduct in his younger years.

Serena William's is considered a role model for many. She is a tennis legend and will continue to inspire generations to come. However, all actions come with a reaction- and in her case, a distinctly unsportsmanlike meltdown and the unjust redirection of hate and opposition towards Naomi Osaka (whether intended or not) should have come with a reaction: a moment of introspection and realization that her actions may have done more hurt than good, and that perhaps a more conductive way of expressing her thoughts on the way tennis should change would have been off of the court, rather than on.

In the end, I believe that this was not a matter of sexism or racism. The tennis world is incredibly diverse and filled with all sorts of people from different backgrounds and heritage. I believe that this, instead, may have been a problem of antiquated rules within tennis that can change in the years to come.

In any case, congratulations to Naomi Osaka for her brilliant win and the start of a great and empowering career. And congratulations to Serena Williams, nonetheless, for coming this far in her field and being such a pioneer for generations to come.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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