Serena Williams won her first competitive match since the US Open final – that infamous night in New York when she suffered three code violations – and then made it clear that any discussion of the biggest tennis story of 2018 was completely off the table.
In the immediate aftermath of Williams’s extraordinary loss to Naomi Osaka, she insisted that she saw her row with chair umpire Carlos Ramos in gender terms. “I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff,” she said. “For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark.”
Coming less than a year after the launch of the Me Too movement, Williams’s comments sparked a huge, ongoing debate about sexism in tennis. But she has declined to return to the issue in any depth, and when she was asked about her position on coaching from the sidelines – the offence that sparked her initial code violation – she replied curtly. “I, like, literally have no comment.”
Having overcome Germany’s Tatiana Maria by a 6-0, 6-2 scoreline in just 49 minutes, Williams was keener to talk about her latest radical costume: a green jumpsuit that she referred to as a “Serena-tard”.