Serena Williams graces the cover of GQ’s annual “Men of the Year” issue and in a feature for the magazine, she recalls her spar with the U.S. Open chair umpire at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, where she lost to Naomi Osaka after an altercation that made international headlines.
Williams calls her experience at the U.S. Open a “trigger moment.” According to the publication, she feels remorseful about the incident with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, in which she argued with him about a second “coaching” code violation and demanded an apology.
“There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?” she told him after receiving a third violation for arguing.
“I think a person can be a little bit more sensitive to anything in that moment,” Williams told GQ. “You know, it becomes a trigger moment. When you go through a really extreme ordeal not once, not twice, not three times, it becomes a trigger moment.”
Many on Twitter noted how differently the situation would have been handled if she were a man in the same situation disagreeing with a call.
“Especially a black woman,” Williams said in the GQ profile. “You do research on how black women, you know, in the workforce are, there’s literally papers about it, how black women are treated if they’re angry, as opposed to white women, white men, black men. It is bottom of the bottom of the totem pole.”
Media outlets cited some of those studies and compared the public reaction to Williams’ anger and Judge Brett Kavanaugh teary-eyed rage when he was up for U.S. Supreme Court nomination.
“Kavanaugh’s a white man,” Serena says, when asked about anger and who’s allowed to express it. “I’m a black woman. His limit is higher. My limit is way lower. And that’s where we stand right now in this world. And it’s a fact. It is literally a fact. If you don’t believe anything I say, just look at those two examples.”