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Serena Williams Opens Up About 2018 US Open Controversy For The First Time

Serena Williams has opened up about seeking therapy after her 2018 US Open clash with an umpire and why she’ll always speak up about sexism.

In a moving essay for Harper’s BAZAAR, the tennis star wrote about the experience – in which she was given a code violation for coaching from the stands, docked a point for smashing her racquet and penalised a game for verbal abuse – from her perspective, for the first time.

“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,” she wrote. 

After returning home following the event, the mum-of-one couldn’t find peace.

“Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labeled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?” she wrote.

“I was hurt — cut deeply. I tried to compare it to other setbacks I’d had in my life and career, and for some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was about so much more than just me.”

Serena explained that the “debacle” not only took a game from her, but a historic and triumphant moment from Naomi Osaka, who went on to win the match and her first Grand Slam.

“I started seeing a therapist,” Serena continued. “I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racket. Finally I realised that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologise to the person who deserved it the most.”

Serena recounted her apology to Naomi, in which she said she would love the chance to live the moment over again and “would never want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.”

Naomi’s inspiring words of acceptance left Serena in tears.

“This incident – though excruciating for us to endure – exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day,” she continued. “We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate.”

“Ultimately, my daughter is the reason I use my voice, the reason I picked up a racket again.”

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