Almost a year later, Serena Williams has revealed that she was heartbroken following the 2018 U.S. Open, although it wasn’t because she lost.

As People reports, Williams explained in a first-person essay for Harper’s Bazaar why she apologized for overshadowing opponent Naomi Osaka’s win during the controversial match.

As Dearly reported, Williams stirred up quite a bit of controversy during the U.S. Open, after demanding an apology from a judge who accused her of cheating.

Williams told the official:

“I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose.”

Williams also broke a racket and called that same judge a “thief” for stealing a point from her. In response, the judge issued a penalty to Williams, who eventually broke into tears, calling the ruling unfair.

However, as a result back and forth, much of the attention went to Williams, despite the Osaka’s major triumph.

In her essay for Harper’s Bazaar, Williams said after the game she began to question if she’d made the right decision to stand up for herself the way that she did during that game.

She wrote:

“What could I have done better? Was I wrong to stand up? Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labeled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?”

Suddenly, Williams was consumed with the realization that her actions didn’t only affect her at that time.

The mom of one wrote:

 I thought back to my first Grand Slam. It’s the one you remember best; it’s supposed to be the most special. This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic. Not only was a game taken from me but a defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player, something she should remember as one of the happiest memories in her long and successful career. My heart broke…Days passed, and I still couldn’t find peace.

After sleepless nights and finding herself unable to play the sport she loved, the athlete decided to see a therapist.

However, it wasn’t until she sat down to write an apology letter to Osaka that she was set free.

According to Williams, she wrote the following to Osaka:

“Hey, Naomi! 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 the apology letter left Williams in tears.

The tennis icon recalled the champ’s reply:

“People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two,” she said graciously. “No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing.”

William’s said that Osaka helped her realize that she wasn’t wrong for defending herself at the U.S. Open.  In fact, it was important that she did.

Williams explained:

Ultimately, my daughter is the reason I use my voice, the reason I picked up a racket again. Love breathes life and newfound perspective into people.

The mom ended the essay by stating that with God by her side, she’s ready for any challenge that comes her way.

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I am a journalist from the D(M)V, who is just trying to make every day count.

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Serena Williams ‘Couldn’t Find Peace’ Until She Apologized to Naomi Osaka for Her Behavior at U.S. Open

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