Serena Williams has shed more light on one of the more infamous moments in US Open history in a revealing podcast appearance with Meghan Markle.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner announced this to retire after this year’s US Openscheduled to begin in New York next week.
The courts at Flushing Meadows have been the scene of six of their Grand Slam titles, including three in a row from 2012 to 2014.
They were also the scene of an infamous clash that arguably led to the introduction of the hawk-eye system to tennis when Williams faced Jennifer Capriati in 2004.
Williams faced her fellow American in the quarterfinals of the US Open and found herself on the wrong end of several false line calls, including one where the chair umpire overruled a Linseman on the opposite side of the court who had called Williams’ shot.
Fans at home had the benefit of Hawk-Eye being used for television broadcasts, but the technology was not being used by the WTA’s ATP at the time.
“Hawk-Eye please,” John McEnroe said during the game as a comment. “It’s getting ridiculous.”
Williams eventually went to Capriati 2-6 6-4 6-4, with the 40-year-old admitting the frustration and uncertainty that came with many of the calls had made it “impossible to play”.
“The reason Hawk-Eye became a thing is because they called out my balls and weren’t even anywhere near the line,” she told Markle’s podcast archetypes.
“In that match, I got this fear of batting because every time I hit a ball, no matter how close or how far it was, they called it.
“It became impossible to play because they just kept calling her.”
The eventual addition of Hawk-Eye was far from the only thing that happened after the controversial match.
Williams said she also suffered emotional fallout from the loss that continued to affect her confidence in court years later.
“At one point I remember playing in Australia years later and I just didn’t have any [fierce] Serena inside me because I was scared.
“I was scared of being Serena because of all the experiences I’ve had. I ended up losing a match because I was afraid to challenge or be myself.”
Serena Williams accuses tennis fans of “double standards”.
Williams went on to say that over the years she has been treated differently than her male counterparts on cases where she clashed with rivals or officials.
Citing the antics of players like John McEnroe in the past, Williams said she felt male players were often praised and described in more positive terms when they had challenging calls, while she was always referred to differently.
Williams also referenced her memorable argument with chair umpire Carlos Ramos at the 2018 Australian Open, in which she was given a point for calling the official a “thief” during an argument in court.
“I had a game taken away and I didn’t use a bad word at all,” Williams said.
“I just feel like there’s obviously a double standard and whether people want to admit it or not, that’s fine.
“It makes tennis more exciting to see these players have these emotions. Tennis is very black and white, it’s just hitting, hitting, hitting.
“There are so many rules they try to tell you not to do them, but if you look at football, basketball, if you look at all these other sports, people are screaming and the fans are really a part of it .”
Williams added that tennis players are taught to be “repetitive” and said no matter how much control you have over your emotions, it’s just too much for a human to expect to behave like a robot.
“People aren’t monotonous, that’s why you see these attitudes. If they want those attitudes, I’m all for it, but don’t say I can’t,” she said.
“Let her be her, within reason. I got a game taken away for not using a swear word, not a bad word, period.
“I just have the feeling that there’s obviously a double standard.”
“I can’t win by being someone else. I have to win when I’m Serena,” she added.
“Sometimes it’s more intense. Is it rough when guys say ‘come on’ and hit your fist. It’s pretty exciting. But for me it’s aggressive.”
Williams has teamed up with Australian tennis great Rennea Stubbs as she prepares for her final tilt at the US Open.
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