Instead of having the greatest triumph of her career, Serena Williams had her ugliest moment.
And she has herself to blame.
Williams melted down in stunning fashion at the US Open final Saturday afternoon with a tantrum over repeated code violations. It diminished her, helped cost her a record 24th Grand Slam title and, worst of all, robbed Naomi Osaka of the spotlight she so richly deserved for winning her first title.
Williams likes to pride herself on being a role model, the elder stateswoman not just of her game but in all of sports. Yet as Williams repeatedly berated chair umpire Carlos Ramos, calling him a thief and demanding he apologize to her, she looked anything but.
You can believe that Ramos overreached in assessing Williams her second and third penalties, which cost her a point and then a game in the second set. You can also believe that Williams overreacted, losing control of her emotions in a match in which she was already frustrated.