Tennis

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Serena Williams Is Fined For Outburst at U.S. Open

Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki won their semifinal matches at the U.S. Open.

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By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 14, 2009

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y., Sept. 13 -- Serena Williams was fined $10,000 on Sunday for her abusive tirade against a U.S. Open lineswoman during Saturday night's semifinal against Kim Clijsters, which ended with Williams drawing a point penalty that cost her the match.

In addition, Williams was fined $500 for smashing her racket after losing the first set.

According to a statement issued by the U.S. Open referee's office Sunday night, $10,000 is the maximum permissible "on-site" fine for unsportsmanlike conduct during a Grand Slam event. Williams earned $350,000 for reaching the semifinal match.

The statement added that the panel charged with disciplining poor behavior at Grand Slam events had begun an investigation to see if Williams's behavior warranted further penalties.

But for now, Williams, 27, will be allowed to compete in Monday's U.S. Open doubles final with her sister Venus.

Serena didn't join Venus for her practice at the U.S. Open tennis complex Sunday.

But through a New York public relations agency, she issued a statement addressed to her fans. It read:

"Last night everyone could truly see the passion I have for my job. Now that I have had time to gain my composure, I can see that while I don't agree with the unfair line call, in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me and as a result handled the situation poorly. I would like to thank my fans and supporters for understanding that I am human and I look forward to continuing the journey, both professionally and personally, with you all as I move forward and grow from this experience."

Williams erupted after a lineswoman cited her for a foot fault as she was serving, two points from defeat. The call resulted in the loss of a point and gave Clijsters a match point.

After getting a new ball to serve, Williams instead stormed toward the lineswoman and shook the ball in her face during an obscenity-laced outburst, screaming, "I swear to God, if I could I would shove this [expletive] ball down your [expletive] throat."

Stacey Allaster, chief executive of the Women's Tennis Association, called Williams's conduct "inappropriate and unprofessional" in a statement.

"No matter what the circumstances, no player should be allowed to engage in such behavior without suffering consequences," Allaster said, adding that she was confident Williams would continue to be a role model to millions of young women.

Former pro Mary Carillo, who covered the match for ESPN2, called the $10,500 fine "a joke" and said she felt Williams should be suspended.

"The [lineswoman] was threatened and humiliated," Carillo said in an interview. "It's important that the sport make a concerted effort to say, 'This is not allowed.' Otherwise you're saying what she did -- threatening a linesperson and cussing her out repeatedly -- is within our rules. If they let her play doubles, that's really a joke. She should be out."


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