Tennis legend Serena Williams became the subject of national debate after last year's U.S. Open, in which Williams faced off against opponent Naomi Osaka.
When the umpire accused Williams of cheating, she fervently denied the claim on the court.
It led to the umpire revoking a point—and eventually a game—from Williams, resulting in a stunning loss.
In a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar, Williams opened up about the tumultuous time.
Serena Williams goes off on chair umpire.. I don’t cheat... You own me an apology... I have never cheated in my li… https://t.co/Sa6FxdxJcw— Zach Klein (@Zach Klein) 1536442216.0
Though Williams's male counterparts are often allowed moments of frustration, especially during accusations as grave as cheating, Williams was criticized by many for what some deemed as unsportsmanlike behavior.
This was despite Williams consoling and congratulating Osaka, who would win the match, while the audience booed.
Naomi Osaka win #USOpen #NaomiOsaka #大坂なおみ And Serena Williams is so great as person and player. #SerenaWilliams https://t.co/XdTNsMONZE— futoshijapanese (@futoshijapanese) 1536454292.0
Nearly a year later, Williams opened up to Harper's Bazaar that the most troubling aspect of the incident was the media pitting her and Osaka against each other.
"I started seeing a therapist," Williams admitted. "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."
She sent the following message to Osaka:
"It's Serena Williams. As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other."
"I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete."
"I can't wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you."
"All my love and your fan, Serena."
Osaka's response to Williams was just as wholesome.
"People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can't differentiate between the two. No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing."
"Seeing her text putting everything in perspective," Williams said.
"I realized she was right. This incident—though excruciating for us to endure — exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day."
Twitter applauded the two champions for their support of each other.
@CCSMOOTH13 Whew, I need a moment.— Earl Grey Agassi (@Earl Grey Agassi) 1562680377.0
@CCSMOOTH13 Love Serena and Naomi for this 👑🙌🏽— CurtisRicha (@CurtisRicha) 1562683566.0
@CCSMOOTH13 Wow, that was beautiful.— Onyi my baby 🇳🇬 (@Onyi my baby 🇳🇬) 1562682389.0
@CCSMOOTH13 Very emotional read. Really understood both Serena and Naomi is cool .— 46664#SW23 (@46664#SW23) 1562696626.0
@CCSMOOTH13 @TheMusicMuse I needed to read this. The media would have you believe otherwise.— THEEQUEENOFPOP (@THEEQUEENOFPOP) 1562685375.0
This exchange makes it clear:
Williams and Osaka are both winners.