On Saturday, the world was shocked as an outspoken Serena Williams was penalised during her US Open final against Naomi Osaka.
During the final, the 23-time Grand Slam winner became embroiled in a heated dispute with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who penalised her on three occasions for allegedly breaking the competition's code of conduct during her women's finals match against 20-year-old Naomi Osaka in New York.
The mother-of-one ultimately accused Ramos of sexism, when she was penalised for the third and final time, insisting he had previously let off male players for using much harsher language.
The confrontation kicked off with the insinuation that Serena had been cheating early on in the second set after her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was spotted making a motion with his hands, appearing to try and send a signal to the new mum from the stands - a violation of the coaching rule. This is something he has since confirmed that he was doing, insisting, “Everybody does it — you all know it.’’
Serena, however, insisted she wasn't being coached. Offended at the suggestion, Serena protested the claim and smashed her racket on the ground, costing her a point in the next game, before accusing Ramos of stealing the point away from her as she branded him a "thief" - which led the umpire to penalise her for verbal abuse and award a game to Osaka. The emotional 23-time Grand Slam champ deemed the move sexist, insisting that in the past he had allowed male players to use much harsher language.
"Every time I play here, I have problems. I did not have coaching, I don't cheat. You need to make an announcement. I have a daughter and I stand for what's right. You owe me an apology," Serena shouted up to the umpire. "For you to attack my character is wrong. You owe me an apology. You will never be on a court with me as long as you live. You are the liar. You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you're sorry. How dare you insinuate that I was cheating? You stole a point from me. You're a thief too."
Osaka eventually won the match 6-2, 6-4, becoming the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament, but her victory was overshadowed by the bitter umpire fight, and the rising star wiped away tears during the trophy presentation as the crowd's angry boos at Ramos' actions echoed around the stadium.
Serena, who encouraged fans to halt the jeers, tried to comfort Naomi and insisted she "deserved to win", and during her post-match press conference, Williams explained she felt the need to point out Ramos' hypocrisy to even the playing field for future female players.
In the wake of the clash, Serena has been fined $17,000 [Dhs62,432.50] for the code violations she received during the U.S. Open final, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) annonced on Sunday.