Serena Williams said she did not know her coach was giving her instructions and had “never cheated in her life” after her hopes of winning a 24th Grand Slam title ended in extraordinary scenes at the U.S. Open on Saturday.
The American received three code violations, including a game penalty for verbal abuse, from chair umpire Carlos Ramos in the final, where she was beaten by Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-2 6-4.
After Williams lost the first set to the Japanese 20th seed, Ramos gave Williams the first code violation in the form of a warning early in the second set for getting instructions from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Mouratoglou later said he had been giving her instructions, but added he did not think Williams had looked in his direction. He said Osaka’s coach Sascha Bajin had also been giving his player advice.
“If I’m honest I was coaching, I don’t think she looked at me,” Mouratoglou told ESPN. “Sascha was coaching every point too.”
Out on court, an unsettled Williams protested her innocence, telling Ramos: “I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”
She added in her post-match news conference that she had asked Mouratoglou why he said he was coaching her.
“I just texted Patrick, like, ‘What is he talking about?’” Williams told reporters. “I’m trying to figure out why he would say that.”