Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese to win a Grand Slam singles title on Saturday as her idol Serena Williams angrily imploded, calling the chair umpire in the US Open final "a thief".
Osaka, 20, triumphed 6-2, 6-4 in the match marred by Williams's second set outburst, the American enraged by umpire Carlos Ramos's warning for receiving coaching from her box. When a second code violation for racquet abuse was handed out to her -- along with a point penalty -- Williams exploded. She tearfully accused him of being a "thief" and angrily demanded an apology from the official.
"You're attacking my character," she said. "You will never, ever be on another court of mine. You are the liar," she fumed and Ramos handed her a game penalty that put Osaka one game from victory at 5-3 in the second set.
Williams won the next game, and continued her tearful remonstrations with a supervisor on the changeover. But Osaka held serve to seal a historic win for her country.
"It doesn't really feel that real right now. Maybe in a few days I'll realise what I've done," said Osaka. "When I turned around it was 5-3 so I was a little bit confused then. I felt like I had to focus. She's such a great champion so I know she can come back from any point."
Williams, seeking a first Grand Slam title since the birth of her daughter Olympia on September 1 2017, was denied a 24th Grand Slam title that would have matched Margaret Court's all-time record. As the pro-Williams crowd booed the trophy ceremony announcer, Osaka was tearing up herself, but Williams urged the spectators to show the young champion respect.
"She played well," Williams said, pausing to compose herself. "This is her first Grand Slam. Let's make this the best moment we can."
When it was Osaka's turn she seemed at a loss, apologising to the crowd.
"It was always my dream to play Serena in the US Open finals," she added, turning to Williams herself. "I'm really grateful I was able to play with you, thank you."
A match with history at stake for both players got off to a tense start and it was Williams who blinked first, double-faulting on break point to give Osaka a 2-1 lead. After a confident hold punctuated by a 106 mph ace Osaka broke again to lead 4-1, silencing the crowd.
It was in the second game of the second set that Williams was warned for receiving coaching, a charge she vigorously denied.
Williams was up 2-1 on the changeover when she spoke again with Ramos appearing to smooth things over, and she finally found a way to break Osaka for a 3-1 lead.
When Osaka broke back with the aid of two double faults and a backhand into the net from Williams, the American smashed her racquet to the court. A second code violation came with a point penalty to start the next game that sent her into orbit.