Serena Williams’ lack of regret for her US Open behaviour is a step back for the fight against sexism in sport

Serena Williams denies that she was coached from the stands by Patrick Mouratoglou in the US Open Final. This is despite him admitting that he “was coaching but I don’t think she looked at me. Everybody does it.”

Speaking on The Sunday Project on Australia’s Network Ten Williams said “I just don’t understand what he was talking about. I asked him (Mouratoglou) ‘what are you talking about you were coaching? We don’t have signals, we’ve never had signals’.”

“He said he made a motion. So I was like ‘you made a motion and now you told people that you’re coaching me – that doesn’t make sense, why would you say that?’”

“I was on the other side. I didn’t see the motion. It was just a really confusing moment, I think, for him.”

In the final, Williams was penalised three times, once for coaching, once for racquet smashing that resulted in a point penalty, and once for verbal abuse that led to a docked game.

The American told the umpire Carlos Ramos “you will never ever ever be on another court of mine as long as you live.” After the dust settled on the incident she told The Sunday Project “what I’m trying to do most of all is to recover from that and move on.”

It seems that part of the moving on process involved forgetting that certain events took place as Williams chose to ignore questions about whether she regretted breaking her racquet on the court. Remorse for her actions also seems to be absent from that process as neither the umpire or her opponent Naomi Osaka, who was booed to tears during her win, received any form of apology.

This latest interview seems to be more about sweeping the issues under the rug than acknowledging what she said was wrong and growing as a person and athlete. It is interesting that she chose to speak only about the one code violation for which there was at least some argument, and not about her tirade about how she was unjustly treated because she was a woman.

There are many instances of sexism in sport, and having situations like this, where the athlete blames sexism for her own actions or, perhaps, an incorrect call from an umpire, devalues those real claims. It would have been a far greater moment for women’s sport if she admitted that anger got the better of her and apologised. She could have then used the limelight as a platform to get a proper discussion about sexism going.

Instead we are just pretending that none of what she said actually happened and the tennis world is even more divided than it already was. It is a shame as this could have been the beginning of a large step forward, rather than a small step back.

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