Serena Williams insisted she did not cheat during the US Open final before accusing chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism after her defeat against Naomi Osaka.
The 36-year-old saw her bid to equal Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record of 24 titles go on as she was defeated by Osaka, who became Japan’s first Grand Slam champion.
Williams received an initial code violation for coaching, a penalty point for racket abuse and a game penalty for calling the umpire a “thief”.
“I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things,” Williams said in her press conference.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief’.
“For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equality.
“I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman.
“They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”
The former world No 1 added she had never previously had any problems with the Portuguese official, saying “he had always been a great umpire”.
Williams said: “I had a good conversation with him. I said, listen, you know my character. You know me really well. Like you know that I don’t even call for on-court coach. I don’t even do that.
“He’s like, you know what? I understand. I don’t know if he said, you’re right. But he understood.
I’d rather lose than have to cheat to win. I don’t need to cheat to win. I’ve won enough. That’s never been something I’ve ever done
“Then when I sat down, I said I can understand what you saw because it may have looked, just because I look at my box, like I was getting coaching, but I’m telling you, that’s not what I do.
“I’d rather lose than have to cheat to win. I don’t need to cheat to win. I’ve won enough. That’s never been something I’ve ever done.”
Williams said she hoped to learn a lot from her opponent’s performance in the match and added she wasn’t sure how much of an impact the chair umpire had played on the outcome.
“It’s hard to say because I always fight till the end and I always try to come back, no matter what,” she said. “But she was also playing really, really well.
“It’s hard to say that I wouldn’t have got a new level, because I’ve done it so many times in my career.”