A player today, a leader tomorrow

Serena Williams sparks new debate for equality in sports

Serena Williams was banned from wearing this catsuit at the 2018 French Open Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

How do you break the Internet and have everyone in the world talk about you? Be a woman and stand up for yourself when a man mistreats you.

A recent incident has become the biggest spark for women’s rights in sports since Erin Andrews became a lead football reporter. Even when Andrews was criticized for what she was wearing on the football field, it never came to the point where she was viewed as an embarrassment for women. After this past U.S. Open, tennis player Serena Williams has been in hot water due to her performance and her actions in her last match against opponent Naomi Osaka. Over the last few days, Williams was mistreated in the U.S. Open and got a lot of hate because she stood up for herself when she thought the calls during the match were unfair. Not long into the game, Williams was punished by the umpire because her coach, giving her a thumbs up, was looked at as coaching from the stands, which is considered cheating in tennis.

As soon as the umpire announced that Williams was receiving coaching, Williams began to defend herself respectfully by saying, “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 would rather lose.” After the violation cost her points to her opponent, she called the umpire a “thief.” This umpire saw this as “verbal abuse” and gave Osaka the game.
Even 1980s tennis star John McEnroe, who was notorious for having meltdowns on the court and yelling at the umpires, has remarked this past week, “I have said far worse.” Many people had looked back to remember when McEnroe was on the news for having another fight with the umpires and comparing it to Williams this past week. McEnroe, speaking to ESPN, was one of the first to openly side with Williams.

“She’s right about the guys being held to a different standard,” McEnroe said. “There’s no question.” Opinions about Williams have been rolling around for years, but nothing has ever made the news like this. Just earlier this summer in the French Open, Williams was critiqued
on wearing an outfit that was skin-tight to help her health. The Open ultimately banned the wearing of this outfit, as it was considered “unprofessional” and “inappropriate.” I find this interesting since men are allowed to take their shirts off without getting a violation, but a woman can’t even wear something designed to help her physical health after almost dying while giving birth to her child the year prior.
Williams wasn’t the first woman to wear such tight clothing, either.

I am entirely on Williams’ side. As a woman immersed in a male-dominated profession, I will stand with her against what others are saying. Calling someone a “thief” is not as bad as what some male tennis players have said in the past. Williams didn’t take her anger out on anybody else besides the umpire (and her racket) and it never even got physical, whereas past players have gone as far as to kick umpires. When Osaka was rewarded with her win, fans were loudly booing. Once Williams took the microphone and told the audience that Osaka was not in the wrong and deserved everything she got, the crowd understood that neither Osaka or Williams was the bad guy, and that Williams was just upset that she was being punished in ways it seems like men will never be.