Two people were battered in the middle of the tumult of the US Open final on Saturday night, and none of them was called Serena Williams.
First there was Naomi Osaka, holding her head when many around her were losing theirs, whose display of extraordinary maturity to win their first Major should have been the brightest memory of this tournament.
Then there was Carlos Ramos, a decent man and excellent referee. His name was betrayed by people who should know better after the wildest night in Flushing Meadows, since, well, the last time Serena lost the plot here.
Serena Williams was very critical of referee Carlos Ramos during his final loss at the US Open
His extraordinary tirade eclipsed his 6-2, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows
What should have been a night of celebration, the women's tennis that potentially added the brightest star in its firmament in years, ended in shame.
It was embarrassing not only for Williams and his coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, but also for former players like Andy Roddick, who rushed to defend the indefensible and condemned the referees for applying long-established rules.
In multiple sports it is said that no individual is bigger than the game itself, but tennis challenges this truism more than any other.
A recap Williams was summoned for three infractions in the final: for being trained from the stands, for crushing her uproar and then for her continuous tirades of abuse on Ramos in the chair, which became more and more animated.
Williams has been fined £ 13,000 after his outburst during the US Open final on Saturday
Even the most determined Serena groupie, who seems to include most of the former players in the comment boxes, must acknowledge that she was following established procedures.
To keep her from forgetting, she already had two service breaks before the problem started, shaken by the surprising early brilliance of her young opponent.
In his tight press conference, Williams was surprised to learn that Mouratoglou had already admitted his training. She was going to end up with a blossoming when she expanded the discussion into allegations of sexism that, pathetically, met with a round of applause from many in this supposedly impartial assembly.
As she goes on her way, from what has been the enormously impressive achievement of making two Grand Slam finals in just one year of giving birth, she can consider the future of what has been an enormously successful collaboration with Mouratoglou.
Williams also received a violation for breaking his racket on the court in New York
Already at the beginning of this summer, she had to impose a French interview blackout that is normally friendly with the media.
And there seemed to be a lack of preparation on both sides before the final on Saturday. They should have noticed that Ramos is an officer with a long history of being prepared to censor players, whatever his stature. And no, he does not discriminate.
The accusations of sexism were more like the football manager trying to distract attention from a bad result by writing things down about the referee.
Those who follow tennis regularly will have seen Ramos meet in recent seasons with players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in important events for the application of the regulations, not to mention his sister Venus, whom he has also called to train.
Where it is possible to have more sympathy with Serena and Mouratoglou is when they venture into the area of selective tennis application of their rulebook.
In most games, they, and other players and coaches, can not be sure when the restrictions will apply. A single example of this fortnight was the fortuitous introduction of heat rules, which angered Murray so much in the first week.
Williams broke her racket while feeling increasingly frustrated on the court
The longest-running farce, in tournaments without the new trigger clock, has involved the lax application of the 25-second rule between points. Illegal training, as Mouratoglou pointed out, has become another gray area.
But Ramos should not be blamed for having summoned him. And what should he and other officials, volunteers and professionals, do to make the shameful statement of the former player and president of the United States Tennis Association Katrina Adams, backing Williams after his repeated verbal assaults on the chair?
The whole sport can not work without referees and line judges, and now a hugely important figure in the American game praises someone who has just called one of them a liar and a thief.
Not that it's Williams's first offense here. In 2009 he threatened a line judge and two years later he told another woman, referee Eva Asderaki, that she was "detestable" and "unattractive on the inside".
However, the pressure Williams has had at this time should not be underestimated.
At this year's Wimbledon, it was instructive to talk to Jill Smoller, Williams' long-time agent, who spoke thoughtfully about the causes why Serena was taking and defending.
Your player is an incredibly impressive and inspiring person in many ways, although one that is not above the rules. Maybe everything on his shoulders was too much, which resulted in Saturday's implosion.
In his innocence, Osaka pointed out something interesting later. I was considering how I had stopped narrating the dreams that Williams was trying to fulfill: winning the US Open as a mother at 37 years of age.
"She really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam, right? Everyone knows, it's in the ads, it's everywhere.
HOW DID THE WORLD OF TENNIS REACT THE GREAT SERENOS?
Sue Barker – Ex world n. 3
Serena is right in the fact that I sat at the side watching the men ranting against the referees and that they have not been given a code violation. We saw Alize Cornet being raped last week for changing her shirt on the court and, in the same tournament, Mohamed Lahyani gets out of the referees chair to talk to Nick Kyrgios and convince him not to give up. They have to look at the rules of what is allowed and what is not.
Billie Jean King – 12 singles Grand Slams
When a woman is emotional, she is "hysterical" and penalized for it. When a man does the same, he is "frank" and there are no repercussions.
Andrew Castle – Ex British No 1
You just can not act like that, I'm afraid. Serena now claims that men do this. More nonsense Is she claiming sexism? This is not OK.
Chris Evert – 18 singles Grand Slams
She broke her racket, a sure warning. But the third time, calling the investigating judge a thief, while we mostly hear men say four-letter words, I do not think that justifies a robbed game.
Margaret Court – 24 singles Grand Slams
It's sad for the sport when a player tries to make himself bigger than the rules. Because she was passed in the first set, I think the pressure came to her more than anything.
Andy Roddick – champion of the United States Open in 2003
It was the worst arbitration I've seen … the worst! I have seen a coach at the referee limit as an active player and another at a game for being called a thief. There must be continuity.
Mardy Fish – Qtr-finalist of the 2008 US Open
How wild the US Open UU For the referees. Two ridiculous calls. I can promise you, that's not training, racket abuse without a doubt, but verbal abuse? It's the final of the US Open!
James Blake: twice finalist of the United States Open
I must admit that I said something worse and that I have not been penalized. And the referee has also given me a "soft warning" in which they tell him to stop him or I'll have to give him a ticket. At least I should have given him that courtesy.
There are issues that must be studied. For now, it's time to celebrate two incredible players, who have great integrity. Naomi is a worthy champion and Serena plays with the class at all times and we are proud.