Alt-Black.com congratulates Ms. Naomi Osaka for winning the 2018 U.S. Open Women's Singles Championship today. We also wish to congratulate Ms. Serena Williams for her unbelievable comeback to tennis, one year after giving birth to her daughter Olympia.
Ms. Osaka is the daughter of a Haitian father and Japanese mother, and has dual Japanese and American citizenship. It does not surprise us that in literary every news story and broadcast she is always referred to as a Japanese player. The headlines will all note the "historic moment" that Osaka is the first Japanese player to win a major tennis title. That's true, but why no mention of Haiti?
It's the same old story of disrespecting the heritage of Black athletes, especially Black women (ethnic or not). It's racist. Osaka, whose family moved to the United States from Japan when she was three from, lived in New York before moving to Florida to play and train in the state's high brow professional tennis environment.
As Osaka began showing promise as a young teen, she applied to the United States Tennis Association (U.S.T.A.) to be subsidized in their tennis programs that provide financial support to travel, play tournaments overseas, and receive coaching assistance. The U.S.T.A turned her down. She didn't fit the profile. Osaka was offered assistance by Japan's tennis association as a Japanese national. She accepted, and plays for Japan's national team during Federation Cup play.
Like Serena and Venus Williams, Osaka learned the game from her father who studied tennis films, tutorials, and books. He personally coached her until she finally started taking on professional coaching a few years ago. Her route to the U.S. Open was not through the corridors of elite country clubs where the affluent sip mint juleps or at high-end professional tennis schools.
Now that Osaka has won the U.S. Open, the press still can't won't say that she is the first champion of Haitian heritage, even as Haitian fans were waiving their national flags at the final today in New York. It's the same tired racism by omission and erasure. We've seen it before. We will see it again.
Unfortunately, it was racism again that effected the championship match today. Ms. Osaka's victory was tarnished by the match umpire's errors and bad judgement that resulted in penalizing Ms. Williams twice during the match. Ms. William was forced to forfeit a game point and a game at a critical juncture of the match.
As has happened to Serena so many times before, when she was forced to forfeit a match for making a lineswoman feel threatened by her comments. Or another memorable match in which linesmen missed three calls that went against Serena. That match ultimately resulted in professional tennis tournaments using video cameras for instant replay on line calls.
Only weeks ago, French officials issued a statement that the full length "cat suit" that Serena wore at the 2018 French Open, did not show respect for the tournament was a "banned outfit." Oh really! Anyone watching women's tennis tournaments these days cannot help but notice that some women's tennis outfits, border on soft porn, cleavage and all.
Tennis elite associations and broadcasters are quick to heap praise on Ms. Williams because she is the greatest woman tennis player that has ever lived, and one of the greatest tennis players male or female. Without question she the most dominant player to ever play the sport. Nevertheless, they resent her willingness to stand up to the unfair application of the rules in tennis, especially when she is on the receiving end of them. Ms. Williams is not shy about challenging the rules and tennis officials on the court, on television in real time.
Today was a repeat of the past. Serena dressed down the head umpire for giving her a warning for being coached from the stands by her team--something Ms. Williams never does, and has never been accused of doing before. As she pointed out on the court and in the post-match press conference, men routinely curse out tennis umpires with real profanity ad hominem, and not one man has ever forfeited a game. They just keep trying to beat the rebellion out of Serena. It's not going to happen. Her platform and her principles are just too big for the tennis elite.
As for the match, Alt-Black.com salutes Ms. Osaka and Ms. Williams for an outstanding match today. In fairness to Ms. Osaka, she outplayed Ms. Williams in every facet of the game and was ahead the entire match. This 20 year-old sista's got game. Ironically, her coach was Serena Williams hitting partner and close confidant for eight years.
We end by sending a big shout out to the people of Haiti, who established the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt. Haiti, has a special in America's historical annals. That's okay. You now have a young international tennis champion that will carry your name proudly. Embrace her, she's one of your own.