The comedian was pressed by TMZ on whether he thought Williams’ “outburst” on the court during her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Japanese-Haitian opponent Naomi Osaka in Saturday’s U.S. Open final was justified. Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, blasted the umpire overseeing the match, calling him a “thief” for docking her points.
Her criticism ultimately cost her a game, and after the match Williams argued that male players have said worse to umpires yet are hardly punished as severely as she was.
Hughley said he agreed.
“I can understand Serena’s frustration,” he told TMZ. “I feel bad for her because I think for somebody who has supported herself so well … and is arguably the greatest ambassador for the sport is given a little more leeway than that. But then I feel bad for [Osaka] because that little girl was playing her a– off.”
When asked whether Williams was simply overreacting, Hughley pointed to epic outbursts by male tennis players like John McEnroe, who once called an umpire a “jerk.” Hughley even used Martha Stewart as a prime example of what some may perceive as sexist double standard.
“Martha Stewart went to jail for taking $40,000,” he said, inaccurately describing the retail and media mogul’s 2004 conviction for lying to the FBI in the course of an insider trading investigation. “You know, if a woman does something, she’s a bitch. If a man does something, he’s hard line and fair.”
Watch more in the clip below.