Serena Williams wrote an essay in the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar, where she went into detail about her loss to Naomi Osaka at the 2018 U.S. Open.
Williams not only addressed the defeat, she also shared an apology letter she wrote to Osaka for how she responded to a controversial call from the umpire.
In the second set, the umpire gave Williams a violation after he said her trainer was coaching her from the stands, which he later admitted to. But he said the tennis star actually didn’t see him.
Williams then called the umpire a “liar” and a “thief,” plus, she demanded an apology. “I have never cheated in my life,” she yelled.
The West Coast native was then hit with another violation after she broke her racket.
Plus, during the trophy ceremony, the crowd, who was very much backing Williams, booed when Osaka was standing next to her, which many said robbed the then 20-year-old of enjoying her first Grand Slam title.
Williams was fined $17,000 at the end of it all, and she regrets the way things played out.
“This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic,” she wrote in her essay. “Not only was a game taken from me but a defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player, something she should remember as one of the happiest memories in her long and successful career.”
Williams said the loss bothered her so much that she had to get help.
“Days passed, and I still couldn’t find peace,” she wrote. “I started seeing a therapist. I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racket.”
She then shared her apology note to Osaka.
“Hey, Naomi! It’s Serena Williams. As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry,” she wrote. “I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other.”
“I would love the chance to live that moment over again,” the letter continued. “I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.”
Williams also shared what Osaka wrote back and said she cried after she read it.
“People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two,” wrote Osaka. “No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.”
But Williams still maintains that she was the victim of sexism in the 2018 match and questioned why women are labeled “emotional,” “crazy,” and “irrational” when they show passion, but men aren’t.