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Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese player to win a grand slam title as Serena Williams suffered an extraordinary meltdown in the US Open final on this day in 2018.
Williams had been bidding for a record-equalling 24th slam title but the occasion was overshadowed by her argument with umpire Carlos Ramos which dominated the match.
The 36-year-old American was furious when she was given a coaching violation early in the second set after a hand gesture from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
She was then docked a point for a second violation when she smashed her racket after dropping serve at 3-3, which saw her accuse Ramos of being a thief.
Ramos gave her a third violation, which resulted in a game penalty, putting Osaka 5-3 ahead.
Neither Williams nor her vocal fans at Flushing Meadows initially realised she had been given either the point or game penalty, and the boos and jeers on the second occasion were deafening.
It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals. I’m really glad I was able to do that.
A tearful Williams argued her case with tournament officials but, although she held serve in the next game, Osaka served out the victory 6-2 6-4.
The presentation ceremony began with more booing from the crowd before an upset Williams said, to wild cheers: “I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to do questions.
“I just want to tell you guys she played well. Let’s make this the best moment we can and get through it and give credit where credit is due. No more booing. Let’s be positive.”
Osaka, 20, was also in tears, and said: “I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this. I just want to say thank you for watching the match.
“It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals. I’m really glad I was able to do that.”
Osaka has gone on to add three more grand slam singles titles to her collection, winning the US Open again in 2020 and claiming Australian Open crowns in 2019 and 2021, whilst rising to the top of the world rankings.
Now 25, Osaka has not played a competitive match since last September, having announced her pregnancy in January and giving birth to baby Shai in July.
Even before her maternity leave, Osaka had played an increasingly sparse schedule, stepping away from the court several times to prioritise her mental health.
The Japanese says she is now intending to play “way more tournaments” on her return to tennis and confirmed she is planning to compete at the 2024 Australian Open in January.
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