Australia's Sam Stosur played superbly to win her first Grand Slam title here last night as Serena Williams again left the US Open in ignominy. Two years after a foul-mouthed outburst at a line judge cost her victory in the semi-finals against Kim Clijsters, Williams berated Eva Asderaki, the umpire, after a controversial incident during her 6-2, 6-3 defeat. She told the official: "I truly despise you."
The showdown came in the opening game of the second set. Williams, serving at 30-40, hit a forehand which looked certain to win the point but before Stosur could get to the ball the American screamed: "Come on!" Asderaki, applying the letter of the law, awarded the point to Stosur on the basis that Williams' scream had hindered her opponent.
"Aren't you the one who screwed me over last time?" Williams said to the umpire. "I truly despise you." Asderaki was not in the chair during the Clijsters match two years ago but punished Williams under the same rule in Doha two years ago.
"If you ever see me walking down the hallway look the other way," Williams told Asderaki at the next changeover. "You're totally out of control. You're a hater and you're unattractive inside." Williams added: "Don't go giving me a code violation for expressing my opinion. We're in America, last time I checked."
After the incident two years ago Williams was fined $82,500 (about £52,000) but was told it would be doubled if she was found guilty of another "Grand Slam Major Offence" in the next two years, in which case she would also be banned from a future US Open. This time Asderaki issued a code violation for verbal abuse, but it is thought unlikely that Williams will be punished with anything more than a small fine.
Interviewed after the match, Williams said: "I hit a winner but I guess it didn't count. It wouldn't have mattered in the end." She added: "I guess I need to read the rule books."
With the crowd booing and giving the home player vociferous support, Stosur wobbled, dropping her serve in the next game . However, the 27-year-old regrouped, broke in the seventh game and served out for victory. She played beautifully throughout, regularly surprising Williams with the power and precision of her shot-making. Stosur is the first Australian woman to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.