Tennis star's wife aims forehand at the umpire

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AMERICAN tennis player Jeff Tarango stormed off in the middle of his singles match at Wimbledon yesterday, accusing the umpire of corruption - then his furious wife weighed in, aiming a slap at the official.

Tarango's tantrum followed a disputed ace when he was a set and 2-1 down to Germany's Alexander Mronz. The American's serve was called out, and the umpire, Bruno Rebeuh of France, called a let. Tarango was disgruntled that the call had not been reversed, and complained, to the derision of the slow-handclapping crowd. The spectators taunted the angry player with cries of "Get on with it" and "Go home". Tarango shouted back at them: "Why don't you shut up?"

The umpire promptly penalised him for a code violation, at which Tarango complained: "They can say anything at me but I can't say anything back." He then demanded that the supervisor be called, saying: "I've got a big beef."

When the supervisor suggested that he play on, Tarango refused, and told the umpire: "You are the most corrupt official in the game and you can't do that." He then stalked from the court to jeers from the crowd.

Tarango will undoubtedly be fined for his conduct, which he later admitted was "pretty crazy". But his 30-year-old French wife, Benedicte, was unrepentant when she gatecrashed her husband's press conference after the court drama.

Tanned and chic in a white suit, Mrs Tarango admitted that she had confronted the umpire, and had attempted to slap him. Her voice quivering with anger, she said: "I don't think that's bad. This guy deserved a lesson." Tarango was asked what he thought of his wife's conduct. "She's French," he said. "And I'm still learning the culture."

Later, Tarango went on to make a series of serious allegations about the umpire's past conduct.