NEW YORK, Sept 9: Serena Williams insisted she was not cheating in the US Open final on Saturday before accusing the sport which has made her a global icon and multi-millionaire of sexism.
Naomi Osaka won the final 6-2, 6-4 to become Japan�s first ever Grand Slam singles champion and delay Williams�s bid for a record-equalling 24th major title.
However, the final was overshadowed by the American�s angry and tear-filled tirade in the second set.
It has already been dubbed �The Mother of all Meltdowns� by the New York Daily Post.
The 36-year-old was handed a code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racquet abuse and a game penalty for calling umpire Carlos Ramos a �liar and a thief� and insisting �you owe me an apology�.
�He alleged that I was cheating, and I wasn�t cheating,� Williams told reporters later.
�I don�t use on-court coaching (where it�s allowed at WTA tour events).
�One thing I love about tennis is being out there. It�s the one time I don�t want to hear anyone tell me anything. You have to figure out. You have to problem-solve.�
Williams said that her coach Patrick Mouratoglou had not been coaching her even though the Frenchman told ESPN that he had and that all coaches do it.
�I just texted Patrick, like, what is he talking about? Because we don�t have signals. We have never discussed signals,� said Williams.
Williams said the incident strengthened her belief that women players are treated differently to their male counterparts in the sport.
�I�ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I�m here fighting for women�s rights and for women�s equality,� she claimed.
�For me to say �thief� and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He�s never taken a game from a man because they said �thief�. For me it blows my mind. But I�m going to continue to fight for women.�
Williams made reference to the incident last week when French player Alize Cornet was warned for removing her shirt on court during a heatwave. Cornet was accused of �unsportsmanlike behaviour� before tournament chiefs apologised, admitting the umpire made the wrong decision.
�Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous,� said Williams warming to her theme.
�I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman. They�re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn�t work out for me, but it�s going to work out for the next person.� Williams left the media interview room to applause.
Meanwhile, Mouratoglou took to Twitter to also take aim at Ramos.
�The star of the show has been once again the chair umpire,� he wrote. �Should they be allowed to have an influence on the result of a match? When do we decide that this should never happen again?� � AFP