Naomi Osaka wins U.S. Open
NEW YORK - History was made at New York's Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sept. 8 when 19th-ranked Naomi Osaka (Japan) defeated 14th-ranked Serena Williams (USA), 6-2 and 6-4. Osaka, 20, became the first tennis player of Japanese descent, male or female, to win the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open already made history on earlier in the week, when the semifinals had a player representing Japan in the men's and women's bracket. No. 21 Kei Nishikori lost to No. 6 Novak Djokovic in the men's semifinal on Sept. 7, also at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka's win over Williams was not without controversy. Williams, during match's the second set, was penalized three times by chair umpire Carlos Ramos, including one infraction for breaking her racket and another for "verbal abuse." The exchange between the two lead to Williams accusing the chair umpire of sexism.
News reports across the board acknowledged a emotionally tense trophy presentation and the crowd's negative reaction to how the chair umpire handled Williams.
A columnist with the Washington Post supported Williams' claim, stating men have acted similarly (breaking rackets, cursing loudly) and avoided penalty.
"[The chair umpire] marred Osaka’s first Grand Slam title and one of Williams’s last bids for all-time greatness. Over what? A tone of voice," Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins stated in her column shortly after the trophy presentation. "Male players have sworn and cursed at the top of their lungs, hurled and blasted their equipment into shards, and never been penalized as Williams was in the second set of the U.S. Open final."
Jenkins' full column can be read here.
Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father is Haitian, nonetheless made history; news reports indicated she will be the world's seventh-ranked women's tennis player, the highest ranking of a Japanese player in more than 20 years.
China is the only other country to have one of its own win a Grand Slam singles championship. Li Na won the Australian Open in 2014 and French Open in 2011; she also made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2013 and was a three-time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon (2006, 2010, 2013).
Michael Chang won the French Open in 1989 as a Chinese American.
(Peter Menzel photo)