You couldn't have gone this weekend without hearing about the Women’s US Open Final. It was an historic final because Naomi Osaka beat Serena Williams to become the first female Japanese Grand Slam winner. However, her victory was somewhat overshadowed by the coverage of Serena Williams’ interaction with the umpire.
Serena received 3 code violations throughout the match and was visibly upset. She also pointed out that she would not have been treated the same way, had she been a man.
Serena Williams after getting penalized because she called judge a "thief" "There;s a a lot of men who have said things and because they are men nothing happens to them"....pic.twitter.com/Vr9WTspqFw— gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 8, 2018
Many were quick to criticise the style of reporting:
Women in sport have a long way to go
The media coverage of Serena’s altercation with the umpire was reported on in a way which made Serena seem as if she was acting irrationally. However, many were quick to point out that when men have found themselves in similar situations, men have often been characterised as ‘passionate.’
Check out the different language used in this reporting of 2 similar incidents:
Male tennis players also stepped up to admit that when they have acted simialrly in the past, they have not been penalised as harshly as Serena was.
WOC in sport have a lot to overcome
Another thing we can learn from this is in how Serena’s race played a pivotal role in the reporting of the incident. None more so than in this Australian cartoon:
The, now viral, cartoon plays on the ‘angry black woman’ trope which is often used in film and TV to depict black women in a negative light. The image above draws Williams as a mannish figure and Osaka’s ‘blackness’ is played down in order to illustrate Serena as threatening.
Many black women have also taken to twitter so share their experience of being a black woman at work, and how Serena’s story is one they know well.
Despite everything that happened to Serena throughout the final, she told the crowds to stop their booing and celebrate Osaka’s grand Slam win. Many have commented that this epitomised the experience of being a black woman.
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