London, November 24: British number one Johanna Konta has questioned Serena Williams' behaviour during her US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka in September.
Serena, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion and one of the sport's greatest players, reacted furiously when she was given a warning by umpire Carlos Ramos for receiving instruction from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou during the deciding match of the tournament at Flushing Meadows.
A second code violation for racquet abuse and the loss of a point was followed by a third, costing Serena a whole game, as she furiously defended herself and berated Ramos, claiming to be the victim of sexist discrimination.
Osaka won in straight sets to taste Grand Slam success for the first time, but the triumph of the Japanese was overshadowed by the decisions of Ramos and Serena's extraordinary outbursts.
"I think there [are] a number of different elements that need to be taken into account," Konta said regarding the incident during an appearance at the Oxford Union.
"One of them being that the umpire was right: Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching - he said so. [Ramos] gave a coaching violation. I think that has to be taken separately to what happened after.
"One thing that is 100 per cent certain is that emotions are always incredibly high in a match, and I would imagine definitely more so in a Grand Slam final. Everybody is human, including Serena Williams, and I think the US Open just brings that out of her.
"I think she feels the stress there, that's for sure. However, I think you've also then got to look at the umpire. That specific umpire is a stickler for the rules. He gave coaching violations to [Novak] Djokovic and to [Rafael] Nadal in different slams."
Addressing Serena's claim of having suffered from discrimination, world number 37 Konta said: "I'm all for equal rights but I don't necessarily always agree [that] when you don't like something you brush it on to the inequality carpet and say: 'Because I'm a woman I didn't get this.' I don't necessarily always agree with that approach.
"However, one thing you cannot take away from Serena is how passionate she is about women's rights. It is because of people like her and Billie Jean King that conversations are started, topics are put in the forefront and change can be made.
"Now I don't believe that was a sexist issue, personally. I believe it was emotions running high and things just snowballing. That's what I believe … don't hate me, Serena."