Internet Calls Out Double Standards After Serena Williams Match

by Erica Gerald Mason
Originally Published: 
Al Bello/Getty Images

Williams’ opponent gets emotional following losing set with Williams; gets very different reaction from commentators

Serena Williams advanced in the Australian Open following an intense match against her opponent Aryna Sabalenka. However, it was what happened immediately after the set that prompted viewers to cry foul.

Following the match, Sabalenka slammed her racket against the ground, and commentators remarked how stressful it could be to play against tennis superstar (and supermom) Williams.

Wait. What? Where was this energy following during the 2018 U.S. Open?

Remember this racist cartoon from 2018?

It happened during the U.S. Open – Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka. During the match, Williams disagreed when she received three code violations from officials – and she went on to lose the game – whether the loss came as a result of the heated interactions with the officials is a question for sports historians.

Osaka won the U.S. Open, but the crowd jeered so badly, the first-time winner cried as she received her trophy. Williams, most likely still stinging from the officials’ calls, took the time to put her arm around Osaka and say a few encouraging words.

At the time, the people of Twitter pointed out that male tennis players don’t face the same scrutiny or consequences for getting angry during a game.

This time, the head to head matchup of Sabalenka vs Williams promised for an exhilarating game of tennis. After a rally where both players ran up and down the court, Sabalenka ultimately lost.

Look, Sabalenka tried. To paraphrase The Princess Bride, ‘never enter a power rally with Serena’. That was the first mistake. The second is that while Sabalenka was thinking three moves ahead, Williams is thinking eight moves ahead. It happens.

It’s also understandable that you’d want to win. No one goes to the Australian Open to lose, right? But the same passion that commentators excuse in Sabalenka is the same passion sports media found unbecoming in Williams.

People quickly took to social media to point out that white female players don’t face the same consequences when they get emotional or heated on the court. Or that players like Maria Sharapova have beefed up a rivalry between the pair, when none existed (Williams beat Sharapova at nearly every match they’ve ever played against each other).

Others noted that even Williams dancing in celebration of her win is sometimes considered too much.

It’s not the first time Black women have been subjected to a double standard (on the court, and…well…anywhere). Sadly, won’t be the last.

Williams played well and she deserved to win. Sometimes she plays well and she loses. She doesn’t have to be happy about it. Nor should she pretend to.

At the time of the 2018 incident, Williams spoke about the matter at a press conference.

“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief,’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief,’” she said. “For me, it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”

This article was originally published on