For verbally abusing a chair umpire and making a mockery of tennis on its grandest stage, U.S. Open officials fined Serena Williams $2,000.
She will receive no tournament ban and her probation, which had been in effect since her infamous 2009 outburst at the U.S. Open, has been lifted. To call this a slap on the wrist would be overstating it. The fine was more like an imperceptible shake of the head.
Critics say U.S. Open officials are afraid to punish Williams too harshly since she’s the biggest name in tennis.
Here’s what happened:
After losing the first set in the U.S. Open in the final match against Samantha Stosur, Serena Williams hit the best shot of her losing day–a thumping forehand which her opponent barely laid a racket on. Unfortunately for Williams, she also yelled “Come on!” after she struck the ball–a no-no in tennis and a violation of distraction rules in tennis. Asderaki awarded Samantha Stosur the point, which gave her the game, and reprimanded Williams. “This is not a replay,” Asderaki said. “This is hindrance and it is her point. Because when you shouted, she ran to the ball and she touched the ball.” Williams responded, “Are you the one who screwed me over last time?”
While Asderaki remained quiet in the face of Serena Williams’ outburst, analysts and sports writers were quick to jump on Asderaki’s side.
“That’s bad form. That is bad form,” said Mary Carillo who called the match for CBS. “That’s totally not cool.”
“That is a classic violation of tennis’ intentional hindrance rule, the equivalent of unsportsmanlike conduct,” wrote Greg Garber, ESPN’s tennis analyst. “Chair umpire Eva Asderaki correctly awarded the point to Stosur, who merely got a racket on the ball.”
ESPN’s headline for a video recap of the final reads, “Serena Disrespectful.”
Bloomberg reports that U.S. Open officials stand by the call and are reviewing if any other punishments will be doled out.
Asked at the press conference after the match if she regretted anything she said, Williams responded. “I don’t even remember what I said.” Williams, who did not opted out of the post-match handshake with the umpire, continued, “It was just so intense out there. It’s the final for me, and I was just … I guess I’ll see it on YouTube.”