Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title on Saturday as she downed her idol Serena Williams.
In a game of high emotions, Williams angrily imploded, calling the chair umpire in the US Open final “a thief”.
Despite the drama and charged atmosphere, Osaka, 20, kept her poise and triumphed 6-2, 6-4 to take her place in history.
The match was marred by Williams’s second set outburst, as she was enraged by umpire Carlos Ramos’s warning for receiving coaching from her box.
When a second code violation for racquet abuse was handed out to her – along with a point penalty for a second violation – Williams exploded.
“You’re attacking my character,” she said. “You will never, ever be on another court of mine. You are the liar,” she fumed and Ramos handed her a game penalty that put Osaka one game from victory at 5-3 in the second set.
Williams won the next game, and continued her tearful remonstrations with a supervisor on the changeover.
But Osaka – who displayed not only a stellar game but remarkable poise throughout – held serve to seal a historic win for her country.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2018
Williams, seeking a first Grand Slam title since the birth of her daughter Olympia on September 1 2017, was denied a 24th Grand Slam title that would have matched Margaret Court’s all-time record.
As the pro-Williams crowed booed the announcers at the trophy presentation, Osaka was tearing up herself, but Williams urged the spectators to show the young champion respect.
“She played well,” Williams said, pausing to compose herself. “This is her first Grand Slam. “I know you guys were here rooting, but let’s make this the best moment we can. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit is due. Let’s not boo any more.
“Congratulations Naomi,” said Williams, who later said Osaka played an “amazing” match.
When it was Osaka’s turn, the rave-of-the-moment seemed at a loss.
“I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” she said.
“It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals,” she added, turning to Williams herself.
“I’m really grateful I was able to play with you, thank you.”