Serena Williams ‘Doesn’t Really Remember’ Her Confrontation With Judge At US Open

Serena Williams standing in front of a dark wall
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Serena Williams opened up in the GQ’s Men of the Year issue about that infamous US Open match, saying she doesn’t “really remember” how it all went down. According to ET Online, the 37-year-old tennis champion claims she blocked the match, where she called the umpire a “thief” and smashed her racket, from her mind.

“I don’t really remember how it went, to be honest,” she says in GQ. “I’ve been purposely not thinking about it. I don’t watch TV at all. I try to keep myself in a bubble as much as I can. I just don’t want to be involved in other people’s opinions. Let them live how they want to feel.”

During the match, Williams received three code violations, one for a coaching code violation, which occurs when a coach coaches a player during a match, ultimately resulting in a $17,000 fine and her losing to opponent Naomi Osaka. Williams says that she got upset because most umpires give a warning before escalating things to the penalty level.

“That was where a lot of people don’t understand. That’s where I was coming from. Like, usually you talk to me, tell me that something’s happening, and I’ll tell my box, like, whatever you’re doing, don’t. First, I can’t see you — I’m clear on the other side of the court. Second, don’t do it. We’re here to win or to lose with dignity, and that’s how I’ve always done my career.”

Williams believes that the call against her was tinged with racism and sexism.

“I’m a black woman…my limit [of what’s acceptable in society] is way lower,” she said.

Instead of accepting the reality of the situation, she says the only way to fight it is to talk about it and make things better for the people who come later.

At the time, William said that she believes that women are held to a different standard in the game. She pointed out that men sometimes fight back against umpire calls and don’t receive any penalties.

Several male tennis players backed Williams up. James Blake posted on Twitter that he had said worse and only got a “soft warning.”

Andy Roddick also admitted to saying worse without penalty.

The tennis pro also said that her reaction had been building up for some time. This wasn’t the first US Open where something had happened to upset her. After happening three or four other times, she says she was sensitive to any offense at that moment.