Serena Williams’s mouth again overshadowed her game at the U.S. Open, where she was ousted by Samantha Stosur in a women’s final that may lead to a ban from next year’s tournament.
Williams, the three-time champion, was fined $175,000 and given a suspended U.S. Open ban in 2009 after being issued a match-ending penalty in a semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters when she berated a lineswoman over a foot-fault call. Her words last night at the National Tennis Center cost Williams a service game, and the outburst that followed may lead to much more.
Down a set in the match she eventually lost 6-2, 6-3 to Stosur of Australia, Williams angrily reacted to chair umpire Eva Asderaki when she was given a game-ending one-point penalty upon shouting “Come on!” after hitting what she thought was a clean winner. Stosur, the No. 9 seed, managed to get her racket on the ball, leading the umpire to issue a code violation. Williams criticized the umpire, and continued to berate her during a 90-second changeover two games later.
Tournament referee Brian Earley will issue a ruling on Williams’s actions today after reviewing her comments, speaking with the umpire and determining whether the violation will result in a fine, the U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement.
“Any impact this code violation might have on Serena Williams’ Grand Slam probation would require the incident being ruled a major event,” according to the statement. “That determination will be made by the Grand Slam committee director.”
Williams, 29, from the U.S., said after the match that she didn’t intentionally yell out during play to interfere with Stosur and that she didn’t know the rule that cost her a point. Marion Bartoli of France was similarly penalized against American Christina McHale earlier in the tournament, also after yelling “Come on!” during play.
“I thought it was a clear winner,” Williams said at a news conference. “I thought it was like the hat-drop rule, where if you drop a hat you kind of replay the point.”
After being told of the one-point violation, Williams scolded Asderaki immediately and throughout the side change two games later. The comments were picked up by microphones for CBS Corp., which televised the match, and replayed several times.
“Aren’t you the one who screwed me over last time here?” Williams asked Asderaki. “I promise you, that’s not cool. That’s totally not cool.”
Williams won the next two games and took a 2-1 advantage into the side change, when she spent most of the time talking to Asderaki, with comments such as, “Don’t even look at me.”
‘You’re a Hater’
“If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you’re totally out of control,” Williams said as she sat in her chair next to Asderaki’s. “You’re a hater and unattractive inside.”
Williams said afterward she had no recollection of the comments and that she had no idea what she was referring to in bringing up an earlier episode with Asderaki. Asked again if she confused the umpire with the one who penalized her against Clijsters, she said, “I don’t know. Maybe. Probably for sure.”
Williams didn’t shake hands with the umpire or look at Asderaki as she left the court after the 73-minute match, which gave Stosur her first Grand Slam title.
Williams was one game from losing her 2009 match with Clijsters when she received a foot-fault call on her second serve at 15-30. She turned and verbally abused the lineswoman who made the call and was given her second code violation of the match, after smashing her racket at the end of the first set. The penalty cost Williams a point and the match.
Two days later, Williams apologized to the lineswoman, Clijsters, the USTA and tennis fans for what she called “my inappropriate outburst.”
Williams, who missed the 2010 tournament due to injury, was fined $175,000 in November 2009 for verbal abuse of the lineswoman. The fine, handed down by a committee comprised of officials from all four Grand Slams, included a provision that it would be reduced to $82,500 if Williams didn’t have any more major offenses through 2011. If Williams is found guilty of a major offense in any Grand Slam, she would be suspended from the U.S. Open, held annually in New York, the committee said.