Serena Williams has revealed she needed therapy after the backlash over her infamous 2018 US Open meltdown and defeat by Naomi Osaka.
In a first-person essay in August’s Harper’s Bazaar, Serena also said she wrote a letter of apology to Osaka for hijacking what should have been the Japanese player’s finest professional moment.
“This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic,” Williams said in the magazine story, which features un-retouched images of her including one where she is baring her bottom.
“A defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player, something she should remember as one of the happiest memories in her long and successful career,” Serena added.
“My heart broke.”
The essay dropped online and on William’s Instagram account in the middle of her Wimbledon quarter-final defeat of Ash Barty’s vanquisher Alison Riske on Tuesday (UK time.)
View this post on Instagram
I’m proud to use my voice and words to share an essay on the raw feelings I had during a match we may all remember. The essay and unretouched photos are live on @harpersbazaarus. Link in bio. Photographed by @alexilubomirski Hair by @vernonfrancois Makeup by @tyronmachhausen Styling by @menamorado
A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on
The US Open final between Williams, 37, and Osaka, 21, was marred by a stoush between the 23-time Grand Slam champ and umpire Carlos Ramos.
Ramos cautioned Williams over three separate on-court violations; for illegal coaching, verbal abuse and breaking her racket. She later suggested his actions were sexist.
While she stood her ground ferociously during the September 8 showdown, Serena wrote in Harper’s Bazaar that she was unable to “find peace” in the days after the match.
She started to see a therapist: “I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racquet.”
But she was ready to hit a keyboard: “There was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologize to the person who deserved it the most.”
Serena typed a letter to Osaka, saying she is “proud” of her: “I am truly sorry”.
But she also admitted she half-tried to defend herself in the letter.
“I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other,” she wrote, saying she “would love” to live the moment again and do things differently.
“I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you.”
Osaka, who went on to also take the Australian Open crown and the world No 1 ranking, accepted the apology, Williams said.
She said Osaka’s reply left her in tears: “People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two.
“No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.”
Despite saying she learned lessons from her US Open controversy, seven-time Wimbledon champ damaged a court at the All England Club so severely during a pre-tournament practice session that she was fined $14,340.
She reportedly took 15 divots out of the court during the session.
Despite her apology, Serena still insists she was a victim of sexism at Flushing Meadows.
“Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labeled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?” she wrote.
“I’m not asking to avoid being penalized. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else.”
The essay received mixed reviews on social media, with many fans calling Williams “fabulous” and the “queen”. Said one Twitter user, “So much strength was shown.”
Others weren’t so keen. “Yawn,” said one comment. Noted another user, “How are we empowering women by having them pose like this?”