Serena Williams, the world No. 1 in female tennis, has been fined and given a suspended three-year ban from the US Open for her tirade at a line judge at the US Open in Flushing Meadows.
The American verbally abused a line judge official at a crucial point in her semi-final against Belgian Kim Clijsters in September. A foot-fault on a second serve gave Clijsters a match point—a point she subsequently won after Williams’ outburst was punished by a further point penalty.
As the American walked over to the official, she used her racket to gesture angrily as she verbally abused the official. The official reported what she had heard to the umpire, and Williams was given the point penalty by Brian Earley, US Open tournament referee, who came onto the court.
Williams will incur the ban if she commits any further “major offence” before the end of 2011. If this is the case, her fine will also double to £106,000.
After the match, Williams was fined £6,000—which has been included in the latest penalty of £53,000.
This is a quarter of the £212,000 Williams received for reaching the semi-finals. Many believe that this fine is fairly lenient given Williams’ prize money, but that the ban will be a huge incentive for Williams to curb her behaviour.
The fine still tops the previous highest Grand Slam fine of £38,000 given to Jeff Tarango in 1995.
After the incident, Williams released an initial statement, which did not include a straight apology, but later said she wanted to “sincerely apologise” for her behaviour.
The International Tennis Federation’s Grand Slam Committee met last week to agree on a punishment. It found her guilty of “the Grand Slam major offence of aggravated behaviour.”
(Published on Bleacher Report: 30th November 2009)