U.S. Open: Serena Williams fined for outburst, but no suspension
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Serena Williams was fined $2,000 for her verbal outburst against chair umpire Eva Asderaki during Sunday’s U.S. Open women’s final.
In a statement, U.S. Open tournament referee Brian Earley said the fine was for the code violation of verbal abuse.
‘This fine is consistent with similar offenses at Grand Slam events,’ the statement said. ‘After independently reviewing the incident which served as the basis for the code violation, and taking into account the level of fine imposed by the U.S. Open referee, the Grand Slam Committee Director has determined that Ms. Williams’ conduct, while verbally abusive, does not rise to the level of a major offense under the Grand Slam Code of Conduct.’
In the first game of the second set, when Williams appeared to have hit a winning forehand against eventual champion Samantha Stosur of Australia, Williams yelled in celebration before the ball landed. Stosur barely was able to touch the ball, but the winner was taken away because of the hindrance rule that allows for a point penalty if the ‘hindrance’ is considered to be on purpose.
After the point penalty, which ended up giving the game to Stosur, Williams launched into a verbal tirade during the next changeover and, among other things, was heard to say, ‘What a loser,’ ‘You’re a hater,’ ‘A code violation because I expressed who I am? Really. Don’t even look at me. I promise you, don’t look at me. ... Don’t look my way.’ And, in a comment that could be interpreted as threatening, she said, ‘If you ever see me walking down the hall, walk the other way.’
The $2,000 fine wasn’t even the largest issued so far at the Open. Men’s doubles players Mike Bryan was fined $10,000 for an ‘off court’ incident after he and brother Bob Bryan lost in the first round. Because Mike Bryan can still appeal the fine, a U.S. Open official said, the nature of the offense would not be disclosed.
Williams was technically still under a two-year probation in major tournaments as a result of her obscene outburst during her 2009 U.S. Open semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters. Had Sunday’s incident been deemed ‘major,’ Williams could have been suspended from the 2012 U.S. Open.
-- Diane Pucin in New York