I feel cheated, says angry Williams after umpire's blunders

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The Independent Online

John McEnroe described it as a "disgusting, brutal call", one that made him "feel a lot better about those pyrotechnics I put those umpires through," and for once he may not have been overstating his case.

John McEnroe described it as a "disgusting, brutal call", one that made him "feel a lot better about those pyrotechnics I put those umpires through," and for once he may not have been overstating his case.

Mariana Alves, the Portuguese umpire of Serena Williams's US Open quarter-final with Jennifer Capriati here on Tuesday night, incorrectly over-ruled a call on a far line, awarding the point to Capriati even though Williams' shot clearly landed inside the line.

Williams went on to lose the match 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, and soon afterwards Alves became the second umpire in successive Grand Slam championships to be embroiled in controversy after making mistakes in matches involving the Williams sisters.

Ted Watts, of Britain, was sent home from Wimbledon after erroneously awarding a point to Karolina Sprem, of Croatia, during a second-set tie-break in her second round win against Venus Williams. Brian Earley, the US Open referee, issued a statement that suggested Alves had been dismissed from the championships, but he emphasised later that the umpire had already completed her scheduled number of matches.

"At first I thought it was another Wimbledon conspiracy," Serena said. "I thought she just got the score wrong, like the Wimbledon thing with Venus. It does seem like a coincidence, right?

"I think Venus had a worse experience than me. I'm extremely angry and bitter. I feel cheated, robbed. I guess the lady didn't want me to be in the tournament any more. I'd prefer it if she did not umpire my courts any more, because she's obviously anti-Serena."

Concerning the line call, which put Capriati at advantage in the opening game of the final set, Earley said: "Regrettably, the replay on television showed that an incorrect over-rule was made. A mistake was made."

He added: 'The USTA continues to explore video replay technology as a future aid to officials, with tests conducted as recently as this year's US Open qualifying tournament." Williams would welcome instant replays. "I think that's going to come eventually," she said. "It's inevitable."

In the meantime, the human eye will continue to make the judgments, and the players will probably be wide of the mark more often than the umpires. Alves, aside from the over-rule, missed three or four wrong calls. Williams made 57 unforced errors to Capriati's 29.

The US Open organisers later apologised. "I called Serena," Arlen Kantarian, the chief executive of Professional Tennis, said. "I apologised for the call, the overrule ­ which was a clear mistake ­ and told her how important she was to the US Open, how she was a class act and how well she handled the situation."

To be fair, Williams did not blame the over-rule for her defeat. "That's not why I lost," she said. "I lost because I played like an idiot. There shouldn't even have been a third set. Jennifer played good and I pretty much dug my own grave, got in and covered myself up with the dirt."

The Williams sisters have not fully recovered from the time they have lost on the court because of injuries. With Venus having lost to her compatriot Lindsay Davenport in the fourth round, the siblings have become also-rans in the major championships they once dominated.

Between them, they have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles ­ six to Serena ­ and competed against each other in six Grand Slam finals, Serena winning five, the last at Wimbledon last year.

Capriati, who lost to Serena in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, 6-1, 6-1, now has an outstanding chance to advance to her first US Open final. She plays Elena Dementieva, of Russia, in the semi-finals.

The plans of other competitors had to be put on hold yesterday due to heavy rain.