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When the ESPY Awards Were Accused of Bias Towards Serena Williams and Roger Federer in 2019

Tanmay Roy

When the ESPY Awards Were Accused of Bias Towards Serena Williams and Roger Federer in 2019

Serena Williams is all set to host the ESPY Awards 2024 on July 11, becoming only the fourth woman ever to do so. With this major announcement, the ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Award is back in discussion, especially in the tennis forum.

Fans recall the 2019 edition when Serena Williams and Roger Federer won the Best Female and Best Male tennis players respectively. This was the last time these two stalwarts received the award and many believed the jury was biased towards them. Here’s what happened.

Serena Williams won her 12th ESPY award in 2019, the most by any tennis player in history. Although the USA is very proud of Serena Williams’ achievements and considers her one of their biggest sporting idols, her win in 2019 was still controversial. Many questioned if she deserved to win that year because she hadn’t competed in two full tournaments.

2018 was a very eventful year for Serena Williams, least of all for her performances on the court. She had withdrawn from the Australian Open in the wake of her pregnancy after she suffered from some complications during childbirth.

At the French Open, Serena Williams was doing well until she withdrew from her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova. She was injured before the match.

Williams reached the finals of Wimbledon 2018, where she lost to Angelique Kerber. Her placement as a 25th seed was also the subject of controversy since her rank was 181st in the world back then.

Finally, at the US Open 2018, she lost to Naomi Osaka in the final after that infamous rift with the chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Overall it wasn’t a fruitful 2018 season for Serena Williams professionally.

Therefore, when she won the ESPY Award the following year, it was bound to raise eyebrows. Her popularity in the US was never in contention and so naturally the ESPY was accused of being biased.

But Serena Williams wasn’t the only player who was accused of being favored. Roger Federer, the male winner that year, also faced accusations of the ESPY leaning towards him for his popularity.

Here’s Why Roger Federer Also Faced the Brunt of the Fans Like Serena Williams

As Serena Williams won his 12th award, Roger Federer won his 9th ESPY award in 2019. But looking back on 2018, Federer, just like Williams, was not exactly the best player in the world.

Roger Federer started the year well, winning the Australian Open 2018. It turned out to be his 20th and last Grand Slam. He skipped the French Open and the entire clay season that year.

Federer also lost to Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Come the US Open, the Swiss star lost to a lower-seeded John Millman in the fourth round.

Although Federer won the Rotterdam Open in between, it was too little an achievement to be considered for an ESPY nomination. Therefore, posts on social media back then ran amok with claims of biases and accusations towards ESPY.

Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, had a terrific 2018 season, especially at the back end of the year. The Serb won the Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and also regained his World No.1 ranking. He could’ve been a better contender to win.

This year, Novak Djokovic might finally win his 7th ESPY award, banking on his terrific performances last year. Djokovic won 3 out of 4 Grand Slams last year and reached the finals of Wimbledon, where he lost to Carlos Alcaraz.

When it comes to the ladies, Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka are the two strongest contenders for winning it this year. Either way, Roger Federer (9) and Serena Williams (12) remain the players with the most ESPY Awards.

Post Edited By:Dhruv Rupani

About the author

Tanmay Roy

Tanmay Roy


Tanmay Roy is a Tennis Journalist at The SportsRush, whose lifelong passion and zeal for the sport landed him this position. A writer with over 1000 articles under him, Tanmay fell in love with tennis in 2005 when Roger Federer defeated Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final after a stunning three sets. Tanmay followed the likes of the Big Three - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal from the mid-noughties to now. His interest was stronger than ever after the wonderful 2009 Wimbledon Final which saw Roger Federer win after a see-saw 5-set match. His favorite female tennis player is Serena Williams and Monica Seles. Tanmay's favorite match-up to date is Roger Federer vs Andy Roddick in the 2000s. If possible, the John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut first round match at the 2010 Wimbledon is the only match Tanmay would love to watch Live by going back in time. Of late, he is a huge fan of Jannik Sinner and believes the youngster has the potential to break every record.

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