CANBERRA – Serena Williams, a deserved legend in her own lifetime, owes a public apology to Naomi Osaka, match umpire Carlos Ramos and the world’s tennis fans. She was the perpetrator, not the victim, of unprovoked abuse. Women should be among the first to recognize and condemn blame-shifting from the perpetrator to the victim. Attempts to confuse her on-court behavior with historical injustices to women and the “everyone else does it” fallacy are an aggravating, not an extenuating, circumstance. Far from advancing, her apologists damage the cause of women’s rights and racial equality.
Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open title. Williams lost the match and failed the character test. The crowning achievement of Osaka’s young life, an occasion to savor and treasure, soak in the crowd’s adulation and bask in glory, was ruined by an ugly outburst of petulance by Williams. For the crowd to boo Osaka, reducing her to tears during the presentation ceremony, was disgraceful.