September 8 was a helluva day for black history and women’s professional tennis. Naomi Osaka, a black Asian, earned her first Grand Slam singles title win. In an apparent upset, the world watched as Serena Williams, our tennis royalty, was dethroned in her final match at the U.S. Open against 20-year-old Osaka. The day was more than eventful.

Amid the current news surrounding Williams — activism, health and mothering, dress code and drug testing — she was called out in the Open match by Carlos Ramos, a petty chair umpire who unfairly deducted points from the tennis pro.

During the tennis match, Ramos penalized Williams for the same violations that usually go unchecked for male players: coaching, frustration, objection. The legend wasn’t there for suspect, sexist shenanigans and confronted the umpire throughout the match. The first slight occurred when he docked Williams for her coach’s indiscretion — coaching at a point, and she later responded by calling him a “thief” and received a penalty and $17,000 fine for that action, too. 

The match between Osaka and Williams was bittersweet and ended with the younger athlete defeating the long-standing champ, and claiming her cup as the 2018 U.S. Open champ. Osaka's victory was met with a cacophony of boos and jeers which moved the 20-year-old to tears. She was overwhelmed with the winner’s guilt as she stood next to an emotional Williams. It was not the warm reception that should have been given a young black woman standing on such a grand stage, and to keep it one hundred — it was quite pathetic. Shame on anyone who is just that foul. Moreover, the heckling didn’t sit well with the G.O.A.T. With a sweet embrace and endearing appeal that commanded dignity and class, she exalted Osaka and quieted the sea of disappointed attendees. Williams redeemed the entire occasion.

That moment will be logged as one of the blackest moments in sports history alongside Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising a black fist at the ‘68 Olympics and Jack Johnson putting the beats on a white boxer at the height of Jim Crow and more recently Colin Kaepernick #takingaknee during the national anthem.

As always, Williams was without airs and handled Osaka with concern and care, yet her detractors still managed to spin the tale negatively. Currently, the star athlete is at the center of a media taunt that vilifies her for throwing a tantrum and lacking sportsmanship. Distastefully, the New York Daily News plastered the tennis great on its cover, likening her to an angry black woman and penning a scathing editorial that referred to her as a “bully on the court.” It painted Williams as a show-stealer, which is utterly ridiculous because Serena is the show. This assessment does not come as a great surprise, especially since such off-putting opinion is informed by the white male gaze belonging to the article's writer, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and its owners. Foolish eyes hardly ever recognize the spirit much less the intersectionality of black women, particularly one who is a world-class competitor.

The New York Post also showed up for the s**t on Serena fest with its white woman’s perspective and eagerness to trash Williams’ level of greatness, writing that her “ego, if anything, needs piercing.” The statement bemoans Black Excellence and befits white lady insecurity. The oversight of these white-washed narratives was the opportunity to celebrate both of these black women’s accomplishments and their bravery. That’s a thing, and it is hella possible. Instead, each platform chose to pit Williams against Osaka for greedy media consumption.

How old, how stale, how white.

What we witnessed on Saturday was a compassionate star express dismay over racist and sexist bulls**t served in her direction, yet boldly address it at the moment; Williams is a black woman who can check a mark-ass referee, accept a loss and share the stage with another winner. What we also saw was a young woman of the black diaspora advance to one of the most prestigious spots in the sport. Osaka put in work to reach the point in her career where she is even worthy of having Serena for an opponent, and that is no cakewalk. Her achievement, as a Haitian Japanese American, cannot be overstated. While some believe either Williams’ approach cost her the U.S. title, or that she was robbed of yet another significant win in her career, an L is an L. Osaka won, and we all must charge it to the game much like the G.O.A.T. has done herself. In that moment of grace, she reminded us of who she is not and hopefully, that resonates with the entire black collective. We are not them. 

These are our stories, and the narrative is for us to define. The U.S. Open game was called: 6-2, 6-4, and two winners emerged: anew darling Naomi Osaka and our beloved Serena Williams, we can be equally proud of both. 

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