Serena Williams was not the victim of sexism after disciplinary action was taken against her at this year’s US Open final, according to Johanna Konta.
Williams lost all momentum against Naomi Osaka after she was docked a game which contributed to the Japanese securing a shock win.
The American received three code violations during the second set of her 2-6 4-6 defeat, and labelled umpire Carlos Ramos “a thief” and “a liar” in the aftermath of the match.
Konta has broken her silence on the debate whilst speaking to the Oxford Union and the Brit believes the 23-time grand-slam champion was wrong to complain of inequality during her extraordinary meltdown.
She said: “I think there [are] a number of different elements that need to be taken into account. One of them being that the umpire was right: Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching – he said so. [The umpire] gave a coaching violation. I think that has to be taken separately to what happened after.
” One thing that is 100% certain is that emotions are always incredibly high in a match, and I would imagine definitely more so in a grand slam final. Everybody is human, including Serena Williams, and I think the US Open just brings that out of her. “
“She has been disqualified once before at the same event, so bless her. I think she feels the stress there, that’s for sure. However, I think you’ve also then got to look at the umpire. That specific umpire is a stickler for the rules. He gave coaching violations to [Novak] Djokovic and to [Rafael] Nadal in different slams.”
Williams has swerved the incident in her brief appearances in the media since September, but the 37-year-old can expect to field questions on the subject at an open press conference at the Hopman Cup ahead of the Australian Open in early January.
She received a $17,000 fine from the United States Tennis association, and the six-time US Open champion divided the tennis world with her behaviour both during and after the defeat to Osaka.
Tennis great Billie Jean King provided a message of support for Williams, writing on Twitter: “When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it.
“When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions. Thank you, @serenawilliams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”
But world No 37 Konta argued: “I’m all for equal rights but I don’t necessarily always agree [that] when you don’t like something you brush it on to the inequality carpet and say: ‘Because I’m a woman I didn’t get this.’ I don’t necessarily always agree with that approach.
“However, one thing you cannot take away from Serena is how passionate she is about women’s rights. It is because of people like her and Billie Jean King that conversations are started, topics are put in the forefront and change can be made.
“Now I don’t believe that was a sexist issue, personally. I believe it was emotions running high and things just snowballing. That’s what I believe… don’t hate me, Serena.”