Serena Williams will be fined a total of $10,500 for behavior deemed “unsportsmanlike conduct” and for racket abuse after her aggressive, obscenity-filled reaction to a critical foot fault called during her 6-4, 7-5 U.S. Open semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters on Saturday night.
There will also be further investigation of the incident, according to a statement from the International Tennis Federation that was released by the Open. The statement said, “additional penalties can be imposed.”
Williams earned $350,000 for her singles semifinal finish and can earn as much as $205,000 if she and her sister Venus win the women’s doubles final today.
After a lineswoman called a foot fault on a second serve, which gave Williams a double fault and put her a point away from the loss, Williams approached the lineswoman, shook a tennis ball in the direction of the woman’s face and reportedly said, “If I could, I would take this . . . ball and . . . shove it down your throat.”
Because Williams had already received a warning after breaking her racket at the end of the first set, her actions in confronting the lineswoman resulted in another code violation and a penalty point. That point was match point and gave Clijsters the win.
Through a public relations agency, Williams released a statement Sunday that said, “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.”
ESPN2 and CBS tennis analyst Mary Carillo called the fine “a joke,” and suggested Williams shouldn’t be allowed to play the doubles final. “She should be out. How can you let her play? That woman was threatened and humiliated.”
Pam Shriver, who is working for ESPN, said that one outcome of the incident might be a system in which foot-fault calls could be challenged and electronically reviewed.
“I think, after this, officials will find the need to address reviewing of foot faults,” Shriver said. “I could see where, just like after the Serena-[Jennifer] Capriati match [in the 2004 Open] . . . ushered in the age of electronic line calls, this might usher in the age of the challenge of foot-fault calls.”