Record US$175,000 and two years probation

Serena pays heavy price for US Open tirade over foot fault call

NEW YORK: World number one Serena Williams was hit with a record fine and two years of probation on Monday for her outburst over a foot fault call in a US Open semi-final.The punishments handed down by the International Tennis Federation’s Grand Slam committee could result in a US Open suspension of up to three years if Williams makes another major violation in any Grand Slam event in 2010 or 2011.

Williams was fined a record US$175,000 with the amount to be reduced to US$82,500 if she stays on good behaviour over the next two seasons.

“I am thankful that we now have closure on the incident and we can all move forward,” Williams said in a statement.

The fine amount included US$10,000 Williams paid the US Tennis Association (USTA) in September after the incident, the maximum fine the group had the power to impose. Williams won US$350,000 at the 2009 US Open.

Williams committed the violation in a semi-final loss to Kim Clijsters, the eventual US Open winner. Williams was called for a foot fault to give the Belgian match point and her profanity-laced tirade resulted in a penalty point that ended the match.

In a statement on a posting on its website, USTA said it supported the extra fine and probation.

“As a voting member of the Grand Slam Committee, USTA agrees with the additional penalties levied against Serena Williams,” the statement said.

“USTA looks forward to Ms Williams competing in the 2010 US Open.”

Williams initially declined to issue an apology to the line-judge but relented later in comments after the US Open women’s doubles final.

“I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately,” she said. “It’s not the way to act – win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner.”

Williams was trailing Clijsters 4-6, 5-6 and serving at 15-30 when the baseline judge called a foot-fault on a second serve. She walked over to the official and waved her racquet angrily as she unleashed her tirade at the official, who immediately reported what had been said to the umpire.

Having earlier warned Williams for racquet abuse, the official called for tournament referee Brian Earley and a penalty point was imposed which enabled Clijsters to claim the match.

Replays indicated that the line judge might have got the foot fault call wrong. — AFP

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