Serena Williams was fined $2,000 by the U.S. Open after unleashing her wrath on an official who called her out for on court hindrance during Sunday’s women’s final.
Tournament referee Brian Earley issued his ruling Monday, a day after Williams was issued a code violation for verbal abuse by chair umpire Eva Asderaki during a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Australia’s Sam Stosur at Flushing Meadows.
Williams got off relatively easy. In a statement to ABC News, the United States Tennis Association said Grand Slam committee director Bill Babcock determined that “Williams’ conduct, while verbally abusive, does not rise to the level of a major offense.”
A major offense could have spelled trouble for Williams, who was already under probation after a similar outburst at the 2009 U.S. Open. Nonetheless, Sunday’s break in decorum may have tarnished the charmed comeback for Williams, who was kept off the court for nearly a year with injuries and medical problems.
It all started when Williams, 29, and Stosur, 27, were in the first game of the match’s second set and the Australian went after Williams’ forehand shot. But just before the ball hit Stosur’s racket, Williams belted out “Come on!” Stosur barely tapped the ball, and the score went from 30-40 to deuce.
Asderaki, the chair umpire at Arthur Ashe Stadium, gave Williams a code violation and a point penalty — giving the game to Stosur.
Reacting to the decision, Williams did not quite have a repeat of her 2009 on court calamity, when she physically threatened a lineswoman who called her for a foot foul in an obscenity-ridden rant. But she was heard to say the following to the umpire:
“Don’t even look at me. I promise you, don’t look at me … Don’t look my way,” “Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow. What a loser,” “You’re out of control, you’re a hater and you’re unattractive inside,” “A code violation because I expressed who I am? Really? We’re in America the last time I checked.” But the kicker – which could potentially be seen as a threat was: “If you ever see me walking down the hall … walk the other way.
Williams was called for hindrance, which is an interpretation of her yell of “Come on!” as deliberate interference. Once the point and game were awarded to Stosur, the crowd at Arthur Ashe booed for over a full minute. But that didn’t slow the ninth-seeded Australian, who rallied against Williams, pushing the 13-time Grand Slam champ around the court with strong forehands and powerful serves.
Williams narrowly avoided another on court meltdown — along with the $82,500 fine and two-year probation by the Grand Slam committee that she was handed after her notorious 2009 tirade.
After her loss on Sunday, Williams explained herself.
“I just yelled, ‘Come on!’ ” Williams said. “It was a great shot. It was beautiful. I hit it like right in the sweet spot. I don’t know. It was a good shot, and it was the only good shot I think I hit. I was like, ‘Woo Hoo!”
She also seemed to put the whole episode behind her. On her Twitter page, she wrote, “Congrats to Sam Stoser. She played amazing! As for me next time.”