Serena Williams cites sexism following dust-up with chair ump

NEW YORK -- After losing the US Open final to Naomi Osaka in a match marred by controversy and penalties, Serena Williams accused umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism during her news conference.

Ramos handed Williams three violations in the second set: the first a warning regarding coaching; the second a point penalty for breaking her racket; and the third a game penalty for verbal abuse after she called him a "thief."

"He took a point from me after he alleged I was cheating, and I wasn't cheating. I had a good conversation with him: 'You know my character. You know me really well.' I don't even call for an on-court coach. He said, 'I understood what you are saying,'" Williams explained after the match.

"Then when I sat down, I said, 'Just to be clear, I can understand what you saw. It may have looked [like] I was getting coaching, but that's what I do. I'd rather lose than have to cheat to win.' I don't need to cheat to win. He was cool. He was like, 'I get it.' We were on the same page, we understood each other ..."

"You definitely can't go back in time," Williams said when asked if she would change anything about the match. "I can't sit here and say I wouldn't say he's a thief because I thought he took a game from me.

"But I've seen other men call other umpires several things. I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff. 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.'"

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, said she would continue to fight for gender equality in the sport and addressed the first-round penalty given to Alize Cornet for changing her shirt on the court.

"For me, it blows my mind. But I'm going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal -- like, Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine. This is outrageous.

"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 received applause from many in the room, and she didn't take further questions. She previously insisted that she didn't receive any coaching and said she wasn't sure if the umpire played any part in deciding the match's outcome.

In a statement released shortly after, the WTA said, "There are matters that need to be looked into that took place during the match. For tonight, it is time to celebrate these two amazing players, both of whom have great integrity."

Later on Sunday, WTA CEO Steve Simon issued a statement saying the WTA believes the coaching rule should be examined and that "The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done last night."

The US Open issued a statement summarizing the events that led up to the game violation and said that Ramos' decision "was final and not reviewable by the Tournament Referee or the Grand Slam Supervisor who were called to the court at that time."

USTA chairman and president Katrina Adams issued a statement as well, lauding Williams for her "great deal of class and sportsmanship."

"This was Naomi's moment, and Serena wanted her to be able to enjoy it. That was a class move from a true champion. What Serena has accomplished this year in playing her way back onto the tour is truly amazing," Adams said in the statement. "She continues to inspire because she continues to strive to be the best. She owns virtually every page of the record book, but she's never been one to rest on her laurels.

"She's always working to improve, always eager to embrace new challenges and to set new standards. She is an inspiration to me, personally, and a credit to our sport, win or lose. I know that she was frustrated about the way the match played out, but the way she stepped up after the final and gave full credit to Naomi for a match well-played speaks volumes about who she is."