In the aftermath of her controversial loss to Naomi Osaka at the US Open final last September, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams underwent some serious soul searching.
In the moment of her loss, Williams remained engrossed by her assertion that chair umpire Carlos Ramos would not have penalized her so heavily - a warning, a lost point, and finally, a lost game - had she been a man. That perhaps more leeway would have been given if she'd been born Roger, Rafa, or Novak rather than Serena.
"I was hurt - cut deeply," she detailed in a personal essay about the incident for Harper's Bazaar.
"Days passed, and I still couldn’t find peace. I started seeing a therapist. I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racket," Williams wrote. "Finally, I realized that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologize to the person who deserved it the most."
After expressing her regret for overshadowing Osaka's big moment, Williams reveals the 21-year-old offered some reassurances in return.
"People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two," Osaka said, according to Williams. "No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing."