Serena Williams Finds Positives From US Open Controversy

Serena Williams finds silver linings.
Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Tennis star Serena Williams opened up to Adweek for their November edition cover story about the U.S. Open controversy that took place this past September, sharing with them how she deals with the negativity and criticism that comes with her job, reported People magazine.

Williams talked to the publication, who named her their 2018 Brand Visionary, about turning negative experiences into positive ones through her actions for herself, her fans, and her businesses.

“I just feel like sometimes, for whatever reason, anything that I do gets amplified, and so I use it for my brand. I use it to promote messages that are affirmative, like ‘you are strong, brave, proud, great’ and all those things that I feel like I’m in a position to not only express playing tennis but can also be expressed in my fashion line and other products.”

The tennis champion has her own fashion brand called Serena and works with big industry names, including Nike, Puma, and HSN. She is also an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement and the author of her own autobiography titled On the Line. William’s busy life also includes being a mother to 1-year-old Alexis Olympia and wife to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

During the U.S. Open Championship that took place in September, Williams was accused of cheating for allegedly receiving illegal coaching from coach Patrick Mouratoglou. By the end of the match, chair umpire Carlos Ramos had given her three violations – for illegal coaching, breaking her racket, and verbal abuse. Not only did she end up losing to Naomi Osaka, but she also had to pay a fine of $17,000 for the violations.

Following the match, Williams commented to Ramos, “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”

Mouratoglou later admitted that he was, in fact, coaching from the sidelines and Williams just hadn’t seen him make a hand motion.

The tennis player suggested that the umpire was “sexist” during an interview on the TV show The Project. She claimed that men have gotten away with much more than anything she may have done during the match.

“I just don’t understand. If you’re female you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do.”

Despite the controversy, many fellow athletes showed their support for the tennis player, including soccer player Abby Wambach, who spoke with People about the incident.

“She’s the best in the world, so she’s going to get scrutinized the most; she’s a woman of color; she’s a woman; [and] she’s just coming back from having a baby. She is a literal walking, breathing science experiment at how the world relates to people that are perceived as less than or marginalized. What Serena got herself into, and what the world has witnessed, and what this guy, this umpire, has put out into the universe was just a microcosm of what’s been happening in our culture.”