Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka won her first Grand Slam title, defeating her idol, Serena Williams, in a bizarre and memorable U.S. Open final that descended into spectacle when Williams angrily protested several penalties she was issued.

Osaka was in firm control of the match—a generational showdown between an emerging star and perhaps the game’s greatest champion—when Williams spiraled into a series of confrontations with the match’s umpire.

The ugly scene overshadowed the dominant performance of Osaka, who quietly wept through a championship ceremony that should have been a coronation of a great new star for women’s tennis. She became the first Japanese player ever to win a tennis major.

Williams, 36, and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, were accused of communicating during the match when he was seen making hand signals to her. Williams was warned for illegal coaching, and she forcefully protested. “I have never cheated in my life,” she told the umpire, Carlos Ramos. “I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right for her.”

She was then docked a point when she smashed her racket. Late in the second set, she was penalized again, this time for saying to Ramos, “You stole a point from me, you’re a thief, too.”
Williams was livid.

“Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?” she said. “Because I said you’re a thief? Because you stole a point from me? But I’m not a cheater. I told you to apologize to me. Excuse me, I need a referee.”

The final penalty meant Osaka was awarded a game, giving her a 5-3 lead in the second set. Williams held her serve for 5-4, but Osaka won the match in the next game for a final score of 6-2, 6-4.

The U.S. Tennis Association later released a statement on the umpire’s calls: “The chair umpire’s decision was final and not reviewable by the tournament referee [Brian Earley] or the Grand Slam supervisor [Donna Kelso] who were called to the court at that time.”
Ramos wasn’t available for comment.

After the match, the crowd booed loudly as ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi began the trophy ceremony. When Williams was asked to speak, she tried to calm the fans and shed a few tears.

“Well, I don’t want to be rude; I just wanted to tell you guys she played well,” Williams said. “Let’s make this the best moment we can. Let’s not boo anymore.”

Osaka, who looked nervous in the post-match ceremony, had tears in her eyes, too.

“I know everyone was cheering for her and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” Osaka said. “I just want to say thank you for watching the match.”
In her post-match interview, Williams accused Ramos of being sexist.

“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff,” she said. “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’. For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”

Williams also referred to a warning received by Alizé Cornet earlier in the tournament, when she took off her shirt on the court because it was on backwards. She was wearing a sports bra.

Cornet’s warning was removed by U.S. Open officials.

“Cornet should be able to take off her shirt without getting a fine,” Williams said. “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.”

When interviewed by ESPN, Mouratoglou admitted that he was coaching from his seat—something he described as common.

“I’m honest,” he said. “I was coaching. I mean, I don’t think she was looking at me, so that’s why she didn’t think that I was.”

Mouratoglou added that Sascha Bajin, Osaka’s coach, had done the same. There is, he said, loads of coaching in every match—“100% of the coaches in 100% of the matches, so we have to suffer this hypocrite thing.”

He also suggested, like Williams, that the penalties were inconsistent with matches that Ramos had previously officiated.

“It’s funny because this chair umpire was the chair umpire of most of the finals of [Rafael Nadal] and [uncle] Toni is coaching every single point, and he never gave Rafa a warning,” Mouratoglou said. “So I don’t really get it.”
Osaka, for her part, had no blame for Williams.