Tennis titan Serena Williams learned Sunday that she will pay an additional $10,000 for her angry on-court antics during her match at the U.S. Open against Kim Clijsters, but it could cost her much more before the matter settles down.
While the penalty is the maximum “on-site” fine for unsportsmanlike conduct, Williams could end up relinquishing all – or at least a sizable chunk– of the $350,000 purse she acquired on her way to the U.S. Open semifinals, ESPN reported Sunday. The Grand Slam Committee administrator is now looking into whether Williams’ racket-waving, profanity-laced tantrum should be deemed a “major offense,” which could lead to harsher fines and penalties.
"Serena Williams' conduct last night was inappropriate and unprofessional," read a statement issued by WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster, after the $10,000 fine was imposed. "No matter what the circumstances, no player should be allowed to engage in such behavior without suffering consequences. I have spoken with the USTA about this matter and I agree with the action they have taken."
So what triggered Williams’ tirade? Williams was trailing 5-6 in the second set when the line judge called a very rare foot fault on a second serve, handing Clijsters match point. Williams went off, screaming, cursing and shaking a ball at the official. Williams was then docked a point, which gave her opponent the match. Williams was also charged $500 for smashing her racket on the court at the end of the first set. Williams lost 6-4, 7-5.
The No. 2-ranked Williams – the defending U.S. Open champ, who has also won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year – already wasn’t feeling much love from the crowd. Clijsters was clearly the darling of this year's tournament. The unseeded former No. 1 player returned to professional play this year after a four-year leave to get married and have a baby. When playing Venus Williams last week, the mostly American – mostly White – crowd threw its support behind Clijsters of Belgium.
"It's unfortunate that a match I was playing so well in had to end that way," Clijsters said Saturday night. "To this point, I'm still a little confused about what happened out there."
As a dejected Williams walked off the court following her loss, the crowd booed vociferously. She later issued a statement, saying, "I would like to thank my fans and supporters for understanding that I am human, and I look forward to continuing the journey, both professionally and personally, with you all as I move forward and grow from this experience."
Do you think Serena Williams' profane rant will damage her image in the long run?