Serena finally says sorry but may face Slam ban

Click to follow
The Independent Online

There were some who thought Serena Williams should have been banned from the rest of the tournament after her expletive-filled outburst at a line judge here on Saturday, but the American was back on court in Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday.

If the reception for Serena and Venus Williams before their women's doubles final against Liezel Huber and Cara Black was muted, that may have been because there was only a sprinkling of spectators inside the 23,000-capacity stadium.

Nevertheless, there was no sign of a backlash against the world No 2, who lost her semi-final to Kim Clijsters in such controversial fashion. Having been foot-faulted when serving at 15-30 as she served to stay in the match, Williams received a code violation and an automatic one-point deduction after launching a foul-mouthed tirade against the line judge involved.

In the immediate aftermath of the match Williams said she saw no need to apologise to the line judge and denied threatening her. Even the following day, when she issued a statement admitting she had "handled the situation poorly", there was no hint of an apology.

Before she went on court yesterday, however, Williams issued an amended statement in which she finally acknowledged the extent of her wrongdoing. Williams said: "I want to sincerely apologise first to the lineswoman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA [United States Tennis Association] and mostly tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst. I'm a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I'm wrong.

"I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it's not the way to act – win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad. I will learn and grow from this and be a better person as a result."

Brian Earley, the tournament referee, announced on Sunday night that he had fined Williams $10,000 (£6,000), the maximum on-site penalty, for unsportsmanlike conduct. She was also fined $500 for racket abuse.

However, Williams' punishment may not end there. Bill Babcock, the administrator for the Grand Slam committee, has launched an investigation to determine whether additional penalties should be imposed. The investigation, which could take several weeks, has to decide whether Serena committed a "major offence".

She could be fined all her prize money won here and banned indefinitely from all Grand Slam tournaments. For reaching the semi-finals of the singles alone she won $350,000 (£211,000). Jim Curley, the tournament director, said: "It's unacceptable behaviour under any circumstances. When you're on the court, and you are waving your racket toward a lines person and using profanity, it's just simply unacceptable. When you look at the tape, it's pretty clear that the way she approached the linesperson, with her racket and in that manner, it was a threatening manner." Stacey Allaster, chairman and chief executive of the Women's Tennis Association tour, called Williams' behaviour "inappropriate and unprofessional". She said: "No player should be allowed to engage in such behaviour without suffering consequences."