The investigation into Serena Williams’ outburst at the US Open has taken over two months, and no group has waited longer to hear the verdict than the officiating community, many of whom see the verdict as a referendum on player abuse for the future.
USTA president Lucy Garvin told the AP today that Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock’s ruling is now expected “within weeks”.
Serena was fined $10,000 after her profanity-laced outburst at a lineswoman during her semifinal against Kim Clijsters. No group — fans, tennis officials, or the press — has been more silently and eagerly awaited this verdict than the those who call the lines.
According to one source who spoke with the lineswoman in question after the incident, “Serena foot-faulted into the blue and [the lineswoman] had absolutely no choice but to call her on it. We get graded on accuracy so it’s important to get it right. Otherwise we won’t get work.”
One person told me, “The Serena thing wouldn’t be an issue in the NBA or NFL. We know there’s a lot on the line for the players, but the behavior from some of them is really getting out of hand. Her mistake was that she was on TV.”
As to what punishment might come of her outburst, most of the officiating people I talked with are skeptical. A few thought that a no-tolerance example might be made of Serena; while many seem to look unfavorably upon the duration of time that it took for the investigation, during which time Ms. Williams was allowed to play the WTA’s Year End Championship and ended the year with record-breaking prize earnings, as a sign that she won’t be treated harshly.
“The fact of the matter is that whatever they give her will probably be a joke. She’s a multi-millionaire. Even if she misses a few Grand Slams, or even an entire year, that’s not a big deal for her.”
“The fans come to watch tennis, and we try to keep play moving so they get to watch it. We just hope that something like this doesn’t happen again.”
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