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Serena Williams Got Into A Heated Argument With An Umpire After He Accused Her Of Cheating During The US Open Final

“I don't cheat to win. I’d rather lose.”

Last updated on September 8, 2018, at 10:31 p.m. ET

Posted on September 8, 2018, at 7:16 p.m. ET

Adam Hunger / AP

Serena Williams was given one of the highest penalties in tennis in the US Open final Saturday after the chair umpire accused her of cheating, sparking a heated argument that mired the historic game in controversy. The professional tennis world responded to the match, with some players defending Williams.

Playing in her 31st Grand Slam final — and her second since giving birth — Williams lost to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese woman to win a major tournament, after losing a point and a game to penalties for three consecutive code violations.

The United States Tennis Association said on Sunday that Williams was fined $17,000 for the game: $4,000 for the coaching warning; $3,000 for smashing her racket; and $10,000 for the "verbal abuse."

It all started when Carlos Ramos, the chair umpire, accused Williams of getting coaching from the box — a charge that the most decorated athlete in women’s tennis took with offense.

“I understand why you may have thought that was coaching but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know,” Williams told the umpire.

"I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose." — Serena Williams just now to the chair umpire #USOpen18

The umpire issued Williams a code violation for coaching, which is against the rules. But it was unclear if she was aware of that because she appeared stunned after receiving another code violation, for breaking her racket in frustration, which resulted in a point penalty.

After seeing the point deduction in the score, Williams resumed the argument with Ramos, telling him that he owed her an apology for accusing her of getting coaching.

“You owe me an apology,” she told the umpire. “I have never cheated in my life.”

Later on, while again demanding an apology, Williams told Ramos, “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.”

For that, Ramos gave her a third code violation for verbal abuse, resulting in a game penalty that put Osaka just a few serves away from her first Grand Slam win.

Here’s a video of the interaction:

"You owe me an apology!" Serena was fired up with the official in the final set of the US Open final.

As the referee consulted with Ramos, Williams, near tears, addressed Women’s Tennis Association supervisor Donna Kelso, saying it was not right that she was penalized for coaching.

“I was not being coached,” Williams said. “You know me. You know my character and that’s not right. This is not fair. This has happened to me too many times.”

“You know how many other men do things — they do much worse than that. This is not fair,” Williams continued. “There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things and because they are men that does not happen to them.”

In an interview after the match, Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admitted to coaching, but said he didn’t think his player was looking at him, and accused the umpire of enforcing the rule inconsistently.

“I was like 100% of the coaches in 100% of the matches,” Mouratoglou told a reporter. He pointed out that Ramos has chaired finals for Rafael Nadal, whose coach, Mouratoglou said, is “coaching every single point.”

“They never gave a warning. I don’t really get it. It’s strange,” he added.

During a press conference after Saturday’s match, Williams said she felt it was sexist for Ramos to take a game away from her.

“He’s never taken a game from a man,” she said. “This is outrageous.”

She concluded saying she hoped that the controversy, while unfavorable for her, would be beneficial for the next woman player who “has emotions and wants to express themselves.”

“Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person,” Williams said.

It was not the first time Williams was penalized for arguing with US Open officials.

In 2009, she was fined $82,500 and placed on probation for cursing out and threatening a lines person who called a foot fault against her.

She was again fined in 2011 for arguing with the umpire during the championship match.

Unsurprisingly, the controversy sparked lots of reaction online about whether the penalties were fair and if they represented a double standard in tennis.

Two gender-related points about #USOpen: (1) Serena Williams is right that male and female players are judged differently. That's why only women get warnings for shirt changes. (2) Naomi Osaka apologized to the crowd, even though she had absolutely nothing to apologize for.

“All fair.”

Mouratoglou admitted to ESPN that he coached. Thus, the warning was correct by Ramos. Then, racket abuse warning was indisputable. Williams felt entitled to having coaching warning retracted, which never happens. So she ranted abusively, and got a third warning. All fair.

“...even if you think Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching, that doesn’t justify taking a whole game from Serena Williams for arguing.”

I think people need to understand that even if you think Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching, that doesn't justify taking a whole game from Serena Williams for arguing. #USOpen

“He showed absolutely no discretion and common sense.”

My take on Serena: tennis has long had a problem with chair umpires who insert themselves into the action. Happened twice this Open. They only way to end this is to make a point with this Ramos and strip him of his duties. He showed absolutely no discretion and common sense

“Ridiculous behavior here from Serena Williams ... demanding an apology from umpire Carlos Ramos, who is merely doing his job.”

Ridiculous behaviour here from Serena Williams, angrily pointing her finger and demanding an apology from umpire Carlos Ramos, who is merely doing his job #USOpen

“Men players get away with far more abusive language to chair umpires and it seems like every player’s coach signals from the box without getting called for it.”

Serena is right: Men players get away with far more abusive language to chair umpires and it seems like every player's coach signals from the box without getting called for it. But even without the game penalty, not sure Serena would've survived against sensational Naomi Osaka.

Retired tennis player Andy Roddick at first called the rulings the “worst refereeing I’ve ever seen,” but later said Ramos was “within his power to make that call.”

Emotional first take by me. common sense should’ve prevailed in my opinion. He’s within his power to make that call. I’ve seen an umpire borderline coach a player up,and another dock a game for being called a thief in same tourney. There needs to be some continuity in the future https://t.co/T5oI1M0Cu7

Tennis legend Billie Jean King also weighed in and argued that coaching should be allowed in tennis.

(1/2) Several things went very wrong during the @usopen Women’s Finals today. 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’ & there are no repercussions.”

(2/2) 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.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, we can all agree that this is not the US Open final anyone wanted.

Sigh. Text from my sister re my 4yo and 2yo nieces. The 4yo had her 1st tennis lesson today. "Oh man. Not the introduction to women’s tennis we were hoping for. The girls are so confused.” I’m sad.

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