Serena Williams is “The Champion,” gracing the cover of GQ’s annual “Men of the Year” issue and diving into her event-filled 2018 that included a spar with a chair umpire at the U.S. Open. She lost to Naomi Osaka after an altercation heard ’round the ecosystem.
In a feature for the magazine by Jeanne Marie Laskas, the tennis great calls her experience at the U.S. Open a “trigger moment” and recognizes as a black woman she is at the “bottom of the bottom of the totem pole” when it comes to how her emotional reaction is viewed.
Serena sees US Open as ‘trigger moment’
“There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?” she told him after receiving a third violation for arguing.
She explained to GQ she got so mad because a lot has happened to her, especially in later rounds, over the course of her career at the U.S. Open.
She previously explained it that way in the post-match press conference and the Associated Press detailed the history.
It started in the 2004 quarterfinals when she hit a backhand that landed in and was ruled to be in by the line judge. But the point was credited to her opponent.
Then there was 2009 when the line judge called a foot fault, a rarely called violation. After William’s reaction, the chair umpire assessed a penalty point and it ended the match.
And in the 2011 final she celebrated with her familiar “Come on!” on a break point forehand to start the second set. The chair umpire ruled the point wasn’t over since her opponent was reaching for the backhand at the time, and gave the opponent the point.
“I think a person can be a little bit more sensitive to anything in that moment,” Williams told GQ. “You know, it becomes a trigger moment. When you go through a really extreme ordeal not once, not twice, not three times, it becomes a trigger moment.”
She said she doesn’t remember how this particular argument went and doesn’t try to think about it, staying in her bubble and keeping social media apps off her phone.
Serena: ‘It’s the way the country is’
The reaction to Williams’ outburst was quick on Twitter, with many pointing to how differently it would be handled if she were a man in the same situation disagreeing with a call.
“Especially a black woman,” Williams said in the GQ profile. “You do research on how black women, you know, in the workforce are, there’s literally papers about it, how black women are treated if they’re angry, as opposed to white women, white men, black men. It is bottom of the bottom of the totem pole.”
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