Photo credits: The Associated Press
Two historically profound black women in the world of professional tennis may re-emerge in competition against one another in part two of a famed square-off, which began at the US Open on September 8, 2018.
According to the Washington Post, Naomi Osaka (pictured left) and Serena Williams (pictured right) have the ability to face-off once again at this year’s Australian Open in that continent’s former capital city of Melbourne. Osaka won her first grand slam championship against Williams last year at the age of 20.
The prodigal upstart was only the second-youngest woman in the history of professional tennis to win such an honor after a major competition. Williams is a 23-time grand slam-winning champion and is still able to play quite competitively at the age of 37. She won her first grand slam title at the age of 17 after competing at the 1999 US Open.
The utmost class that was exhibited by these two ladies after their 2018 match against each other was unparalleled. Williams showed the world how an experienced veteran is supposed to gracefully pass the torch. Osaka returned the favor by showing youths the value of homage and how you pay it to honorable predecessors.
If Williams and Osaka both win their quarterfinals round of the 2019 Australian Open, the two tennis greats may very well have the chance at a rematch this year. Unfortunately, the collective grace and class these two ladies of color have shown was overshadowed by erratic, racially-charged media reports and gender-based umpiring double-standards in professional tennis.
During her match against Osaka at last year’s US Open, Williams was engaged in a visible back-and-forth dispute with Carlos Ramos, a chair umpire who worked the competition. Though Williams had a legitimate case against Ramos’ poor calls, she was vilified by the media in a way that exhibited disgusting racism and gender bias.
Hopefully, this time (if a Williams and Osaka rematch occurs), a fair match can occur with better officiating and calls by the umpires. The 2019 Australian Open is currently underway.