During her controversial outburst against umpire who was accused of an unfair call during her 2018 US Open final match Serena Williams was praised by many for being a beacon of strength, but now she’s revealing that she ‘started seeing a therapist’ shortly afterwards.
According to a personal essay she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar, the 37-year-old explains from her perspective what it felt like on that heated day last September when chaos broke out while she was competing for her 24th Grand Slam singles title against Naomi Osaka. As the match fell apart for her, she argued with the official, Carlos Ramos, accusing him of sexism, costing her three code violations and ultimately one game.
She also explained why she felt the need to apologize to Osaka after the backlash following the match, confessing that the whole “debacle” left her feeling unable to return to tennis for “a long while.”
“I could not have been happier for her,” said Williams who has won a total of 39 Grand Slams. “As for me, I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love—one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning.”
Left feeling “hurt” and “cut deeply” by the incident, Williams returned to her home in Florida to heal from what she says felt like having her integrity and character attacked in front of the whole world.
“This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic,” she wrote, adding: “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.”
“Days passed, and I still couldn’t find peace,” she confessed. “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.”
At her therapist’s suggestion, she contacted Osaka to apologize for her part in the spectacle, sending her a text message as her way to finally “move forward.”
“It was time for me to apologize to the person who deserved it the most,” she concluded. “I started to type, slowly at first, then faster as if the words were flowing out of me.”
‘I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete,’ read the message she sent to Osaka. “I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future.”
Meanwhile, Williams continues to make her way at Wimbledon. On Thursday, she defeated Alison Riske 6-4 4-6 6-3 to advance to the semifinals, her 12th in 19 appearances at the tournament.
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I’m proud to use my voice and words to share an essay on the raw feelings I had during a match we may all remember. The essay and unretouched photos are live on @harpersbazaarus. Link in bio. Photographed by @alexilubomirski Hair by @vernonfrancois Makeup by @tyronmachhausen Styling by @menamorado