Serena Williams unretouched: Tennis star, 37, goes semi-naked as she reveals she texted Naomi Osaka to APOLOGIZE for US Open meltdown
- Serena, 37, wrote a personal essay for Harper’s Bazaar detailing her experience during the US Open last year against Naomi, 21
- She confessed to feeling ‘hurt’ and ‘cut deeply’ when returning to her home in Florida following the match where she lost to the young tennis star
- During the match, Serena received three violations from the umpire
- She shared that she ‘started seeing a therapist’ after the incident in order to try and find some ‘answers’
- Serena realized she needed to reach out to Naomi following the match to apologize for her outburst taking away from her first Grand Slam win
- Naomi responded saying Serena should continue ‘trailblazing’ and speaking out Serena chose to play again for her daughter and to stand up to sexism in tennis
Tennis star Serena Williams posed for an unretouched shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, appearing on the cover in nothing but a gold cape, while opening up about her now-infamous US Open outburst in a personal essay in the magazine’s pages.
The mother-of-one, 37, flashes some serious flesh as she shares a peek of her bottom in the daring shoot; other images show her wearing a variety of stunning gold ensembles incredible a very sexy mini dress.
But while the shoot itself was daring and powerful, the words Serena wrote alongside it were much more vulnerable, with the tennis pro revealing that she apologized to her US Open opponent Naomi Osaka via text, while once again hitting out at the sexist bias that she believes cause the entire ‘debacle’.
Serena Williams unretouched: Stunning tennis star, 37, went semi-naked to pose for a sexy yet strong gold-themed shoot for Harper’s Bazaar
Wow: Selena showed off her toned legs in another incredible gold fashion look, while opening up about her now-infamous US Open outburst, and how she dealt with the aftermath
Frustrated: During the September 2018 match against a then-20-year-old, Serena received three violations from the umpire
Bittersweet moment: Naomi won her first Grand Slam singles title during that match, however the win was overshadowed by the controversy over Serena’s reaction
Serena made headlines in September 2018 when competing for her 24th Grand Slam singles title against Naomi, who was 20 at the time, after she received three violations from the umpire while attempting to defend herself when he penalized her for signaling to her coach — something the tennis player said she wasn’t doing.
In a personal essay, Serena wrote about her perspective from that day and why she prioritized apologizing to Naomi after the backlash that followed the match.
‘I could not have been happier for her,’ Serena, who has one a total of 39 Grand Slams, wrote.
Outburst: One violation happened after Serena threw her racket on the court. The umpire also penalized her for signaling to her coach, which Serena said she wasn’t doing
‘As for me, I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love—one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning.’
Serena revealed she returned to her home in Florida and was left ‘hurt’ and ‘cut deeply’ by the events taking place during the match.
These thoughts brought Serena back to her first time winning a Grand Slam — in 1999 at the age of 17 — and she realized how the moment was taken away from Naomi during her first win.
‘This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic,’ Serena wrote, before adding: ‘Not only was a game taken from me but 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.’
But despite giving it time in the hopes that she would move on from the shocking incident, Serena still struggled to come to terms with what had happened.
‘Days passed, and I still couldn’t find peace,’ she wrote. ‘I started seeing 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 racket.’
After seeking advice from a therapist, Serena decided to contact Naomi and apologize for what went down between herself and the umpire on the tennis court.
Sending the text message, Serena believed, was her way to ‘move forward’ from the match.
Serena’s message: ‘Hey, Naomi! It’s Serena Williams. As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. 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.
‘I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.
‘I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you. All my love and your fan, Serena.’
Naomi’s response: ‘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.’
Reaching out: Serena, who posed for Harper’s in an array of gold outfits, said she started seeing a therapist after the incident in the hopes of finding some ‘answers’
Disappointed: She confessed to feeling ‘hurt’ and ‘cut deeply’ when returning to her home in Florida following the match where she lost to the young tennis star
‘It was time for me to apologize to the person who deserved it the most,’ she confessed. ‘I started to type, slowly at first, then faster as if the words were flowing out of me.’
Serena’s message to Naomi expressed her pride in the young tennis player on the court while also stating how ‘truly sorry’ she was for the drama surrounding the match.
‘I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete,’ she wrote Naomi. ‘I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future.’
The message then signed off with Serena expressing ‘all my love’ towards Naomi and calling herself a ‘fan’ of the young tennis player.
Naomi’s response back brought up tears for Serena, as the tennis player graciously said, ‘People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two.’
She continued: ‘No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.’
The conversation between Serena and Naomi helped the mom-of-one move on from the backlash she faced from her outburst on the court, but she confessed to thinking twice before picking up her tennis racket again.
‘I’ll admit, it was a long while before I picked up a racket again,’ Serena wrote. ‘There is only so much one person can take.’
Ultimately, it was Serena’s one-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, who encouraged her to return to the sport she loved.
Fighting back: ‘I’m not asking to avoid being penalized,’ Serena wrote. ‘I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else. Sadly, that’s simply not the world we currently live in’
Bold: The sportswoman, who has won 39 Grand Slam titles in total, spoke about how important is it for her to speak out as a woman
Trailblazer: Serena says she chose to play again for her and husband Alexis Ohanian’s daughter, Alexis Olympia (pictured), and to stand up to sexism in tennis
‘My daughter is the reason I use my voice, the reason I picked up a racket again,’ she said, adding: ‘Love breathes life and newfound perspective into people. It’s not about quitting when someone presents a challenge; it’s about getting up when you are down, dusting yourself off and asking, “Is that the best you got?”’
Serena said she will continue to use her platform to showcase the sexism in the workplace for women, stating men in tennis would’ve never experienced the calls she received during the US Open.
‘When men fight back against the referees, they’re met with a smile or even a laugh from the umpire, as if they’re sharing an inside joke,’ she wrote, describing how her incident compared to others she has seen on the court.
‘I’m not asking to avoid being penalized. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else. Sadly, that’s simply not the world we currently live in.’
Serena said she has never had it ‘easy’ in the industry, experiencing incidents such as getting paid less based on her sex and opponents cheating.
But the tennis star knows that by using her voice to speak out against these incidents, she just might be able to help another athlete who looks like her in the future of the sport.
Read the full interview in the August 2019 issue of US Harper’s BAZAAR, available on newsstands July, 23.
Moving ahead: Serena stormed to victory against her fellow American player Alison Riske in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon on Tuesday
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