Penalty-Free Serena Returns to No. 1 Following Beijing Win
by Sean Randall | October 6th, 2009, 9:50 am

It was quite the road, quite the journey, but after six months or so of anticipation following today’s win Serena Williams will finally reclaim the No. 1 ranking from (a relieved?) Dinara Safina when the new WTA rankings are released Monday. ADHEREL

Williams secured the top spot earlier today after a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ekatarina Makarova in the second round at the China Open in Beijing.

The win gives Serena just enough points to leap past the imploding Safina who lost in the second round, her fifth defeat in eight matches. At least Safina doesn’t have to worry about the No. 1 questions, for now anyway.

While many will say with Serena back at the No. 1 position that order on the WTA is restored, but I will argue otherwise.

My chief issue is Why is Serena even allowed to play?

The USTA, ITF, WTA and just about every alphabet organization that has their hands in tennis all said Serena was under investigation after threatening to re-arrange a lineswoman’s anatomy with a tennis ball at the US Open. That was last month. We all saw the tapes, heard Serena’s half-hearted apology, what’s the delay here? What’s to discuss? Where’s the penalty?

Serena of course was assessed a point-penalty after the outburst, but since the penalty was enforced on match point against her, Serena was disqualified giving Kim Clijsters the semifinal win and the US Open title a day later.

The general fan sentiment at the time was that Serena should have been immediately defaulted from the tournament – which would have DQ’d from the nationally televised doubles final – and suspended from the Tour.

As of yet, however, nothing has happened except the USTA upping Serena’s fine from a few grand to a $10,500 I believe. (Talk about a deterrence!)

The decision, if it comes, will be interesting. This is no ordinary case because if you suspend Serena for any length of time you also in some ways suspend her older sister, Venus, too. That’s my belief. It’s a package deal. The two work and play in tandem and crossing one is crossing both.

If I had to guess an outcome I will say little will come of this. Serena and Venus are the two biggest stars on the women’s tennis circus, er, circuit and the WTA/ITF/tennis cannot afford to lose them, especially next year during the US Open Series. There’s just too much money involved to keep them off the summer hardcourts though they may elect to just bypass the events anyway.

Best measure would have been to suspend Serena for the fall events and through November (a two-month suspension) since for most of the general public the tennis season ends anyway after the US Open. But we are getting late. And let’s not forget, Serena’s also now No. 1. Can you really suspend a No. 1?

As for the rest of Beijing, after last week’s putrid 0-6 first round effort by the top gals in Tokyo, this week there have been fewer upsets with Venus and Caroline Wozniacki joining Safina at the early exits.

Jelena Jankovic, who peculiarly retired over the weekend with a bad wrist to Maria Sharapova in the Tokyo final, was also defeated today in three sets by Peng Shuai. I guess JJ’s wrist wasn’t that injured after all of she was able to play on it just a few days later, and play three sets! Surprise!

Worth noting, had Jankovic won she would have played Sharapova in the third round. Maria continues to improve as she defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-5 in the third.

Speaking of upsets, plenty on the men’s side with Roddick and Del Potro both losing today. I will get to them in a separate post.

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Serena Williams Defaulted, Clijsters Advances to US Open Final Against Wozniacki
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36 Comments for Penalty-Free Serena Returns to No. 1 Following Beijing Win

shawn Says:

I think that you are a jealous bastard. Serena williams is the best tennis player in the world and you are just jealous because you don’t like her. She is human like anyone else annd when someone pisses you ar me off we get angry and say the first thing that comes out of our mouth, if I was in serena’s shoes at that moment I would probably stuff the ball down her thoat instead of speaking! Can you imagine being in the semi-final of a tournament and because of a bad call you lose! We all know that serena can be match point down and come back and win. So stop hateing her please. She is my role model and no matter what you say I will love her always. She apologized and she paid the fine I think thats enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

shawn Says:

I made alot of errors in my first comment because I was knda upset anyways STOP hateing her and let her live.

Tennis This Says:

Shawn – I understand that you like Serena, though it’s her sportsmanlike conduct that make people upset…not her.
I am quite tired of her complaining about not being #1 all the time, but I guess she’s back up there…it’ll give my ears a break from bleeding. :)

Hit em hard Shawn

John Says:

I completely agree with you, Shawn. i think this Sean Randall guy is ridiculous for criticizing Serena this way. This blog was poorly written by a jealous man who is picking on serena for one lously mistake fueled by anger. Just let her play and stop picking on her. Tennis needs Her!

jane Says:

I wish I would’ve seen Sharapova’s win over Azarenka; that looked like quite the tussle, going to 7-5 in the third set. Sharpie has a tough draw here; if she gets deep that bodes well for her, coming off a title last week.

i am it Says:

think smart if you can. as she has told her friends and family she was misbehaving only because she did not have the no. 1.
now she has it, she will behave.

remember the days of the Wild West when they used hire thugs for Sheriffs and Marshall so that there would be order in society?

Tennis Vagabond Says:

In 74 Connors was #1 and won 3 GS, except French Open, from which he was suspended due to playing in a team tennis league.

I cannot think of ANY major sport where a player would not be suspended for that kind of behaviour towards an official.

Bojan Says:

You’re simply a moron, and I’m simply a masochist for visiting this web page. Delete from favorites. Have a nice life.

Dave A, UK Says:

I guess you didn’t see JJ’s match today – if you had you would have seen that she had no power in her service or forehand and was obviously hoping to win with placement alone. Why she played at all only she knows but I presume she was trying to scrape a few more points towards Doha. And there was nothing “peculiar” about her retirement at the weekend – do you actually watch tennis at all ?

Veno Says:

Oh please, JJ is drama queen personified! I don’t doubt she had to retire against Shriekapova because of injury, but seeing that heavy strap and her hampered movement on her arm, why on earth didn’t she pull out this tourney to recover properly

MMT Says:

I agree that Serena should have been suspended – that she is “emotional” or “intense” is no excuse – imagine if everyone in women’s tennis behaved the way she did. For that matter Azarenka should have been fined and suspended for the way she tried to intimidate and humiliate the lineswoman at Wimbledon, and Pennetta for her middle finger salult in the Fed Cup. But the powers that be in women’s tennis are a pathetic collection of yes men/women with no spine and no principle. If Dubai weren’t example enough, then the other incidents should confirm that. I would say that Billie Jean King would be disgusted by this, but she had nothing impactful to say about Dubai either, so who knows.

“This is no ordinary case because if you suspend Serena for any length of time you also in some ways suspend her older sister, Venus, too. That’s my belief. It’s a package deal. The two work and play in tandem and crossing one is crossing both.”

Not sure I see the logic in this – the only tournaments they both play in are top tier events and slams – otherwise they’re almost completely independent. The only exception I can see is for the Fed Cup – I’m sure that if Serena were suspended, and couldn’t play the Fed Cup final, Venus would find a reason to pull out of it as well. Indian Wells is a very particular case that I don’t think has much do with how and where they play today.

“Can you really suspend a No. 1?”

John McEnroe was suspended from the ATP tour at the height of his powers in 1984 for the now famous tirade in which (among other things) he sprayed the King of Sweden with the water and ice placed next to his chair during a fit of anger on the changeover. McEnroe was hoping to be suspended because he was burned out and wanted a ready made excuse to take time off from the tour. Ironically, although his father (his agent) had appealed every fine and/or suspension he had received up until that point, every single appeal was denied…except for this one.

So you can suspend a #1, but even the ATP show a lack of teeth in that case when they rescinded it on appeal.

hitmeinthegut Says:

Sean Randall…….this story is old. There are no more bugs in the carpet. Stop beating it. Let’s see how Serena handles #1. Now if the USTA, WTA, and ITF wants to punish Serena–MAKE her play at Indian Wells.

Kimo Says:

He’s my take on Serena:

I don’t think she’s a good sport, let alone a nice person, and as much as I don’t like the fact that she’s now back at no.1, she is without a doubt the best tennis player in the world right now and the one who deserves that top spot the most.

Von Says:

“Serena was under investigation after threatening to re-arrange a lineswoman’s anatomy with a tennis ball at the US Open.”

How is threatening to push a ball down the woman’s throat re-arranging her anatomy? Did Serena threaten to remove the woman’s throat? that would constitue wanting to rearange a part of her anatomy. I’m lost.

“The general fan sentiment at the time was that Serena should have been immediately defaulted from the tournament – ”

It wasn’t the general consensus of opinion. It was a mixed reaction, some for and some against, therefore it could not be the general opinion. And, Serena was defaulted.

I don’t condone Serena’s behaviour but there has been worse in the Tennis world, so to single her out and request she be prohibited from playing in subsequent tournaments is pushing things a bit too far. If theywere to do this, then they should go back to Sharapova who cursed at the umpire and Azarenka, whose case is similar with a lineswoman, except she didn’t threaten to push a ball down her throat. If my memory of that Azarenka incident is correct, I believe Azarenka also began getting into it with the crowd.

pam Says:

Most people don’t just haul off and say the first thing that comes to mind when they get upset. If every one acted like that we would all be fighting all the time. Serena is a great tennis player, but she is also a grown woman who should know better. Her behavior would have gotten any other athlete suspended and any average Joe fired. It is ridiculous that she has not been suspended yet. The fact that she is the best player should not have any thing to do with the length of her suspension or the amount of her fine. The WTA is hiding behind the fact that the US Open is not one of their tournaments and leaving it to the ITF to make a ruling. No tournament wants her gone because it will hurt ticket sales and the networks are afraid that ratings will drop. Everyone is afraid that tennis cannot survive without Serena Williams. I say it is better to do without her than to endorse the kind of behavior she displayed at the Open and on other occasions. The WTA can survive a few weeks without Serena, but without integrity they will be a laughing stock sport full of divas and pin-up girls. And that is something I can do without.

pam Says:

I’m not a doctor, but I think shoving a tennis ball down someone’s throat is likely to result in the rearrangement of a person’s anatomy.

Sean Randall Says:

shawn, jealous? Nah. I actually like having her around because of the controversy she brings.

Forget the transgressions, “Tennis needs Her!” according to John! You proved my point.

hitmeinthegut, this is the first time I’ve brought this up in a month. I would like to know – as would many other people – on what the status of the “investigation” is.

As for JJ, wrist injuries in tennis are very serious. If it’s serious enough to retire in a final, why in the world would she play three sets with it a few days later? Had she pulled out of China i would have believed her 100%, but by playing it makes the retirement look a little suspect, doesn’t it?

Sean Randall Says:

MMT, I guess I would say by suspending Serena you do run the risk of losing Venus. I don’t think it’s far-fetched.

Von, the poll on the front page shows 85% for a Serena suspension with over 750 votes.

been there Says:

“…..which would have DQ’d from the nationally televised doubles final – and suspended from the Tour….”

Surely Sean Randall, you really think the US tournament directors could have banned Serena, their own country girl, from playing a doubles final…in which she & her sister were favourite to win? Deny the US pair a chance at a trophy? lol. Also, in the doubles trophy ceremony, the crowd seemed to have been forgiven Serena & were booing whoever was asking the questions…I forget his name….it was more like ‘move on already’.

hitmeinthegut says:
“Now if the USTA, WTA, and ITF wants to punish Serena–MAKE her play at Indian Wells.”

Forcing Serena to play Indian Wells is hardly going to help the case of the tournament directors. For starters, Serena can decide to appear, then lose in 1st rnd (or retire after 2 games with this or that injury)….thereby further embarrassing USTA, ITF, WTA. It’s not a GS, so Serena is not going to lose sleep over a 1st rnd defeat.

Secondly, since the Williams sisters are boycotting the tournament on a matter of principle; forcing her to play can easily turn to a court case…especially in the US where every other slight culminates to ‘talk to my lawyer’. Does the USTA, ITF, etc want to drag themselves in such a mess….especially against the top-ranked WTA player with the current most number of grand slam titles?

A third scenario is one which Serena gives her all in Indian Wells, & decides to skip the next mandatory premier event. So in essence, the USTA, ITF, etc. will have achieved nothing….& in all three scenarios, Serena comes out the winner.

>> As much as John McEnroe was banned, I doubt that the same can happen now (unless there is actual physical violence) because tennis as changed in a big way since 1984. Right now, it is much more commercial & has a worldwide fanbase (as compared to US, UK & Australia 25+ years ago), & it’s players such as Serena who attract crowds….

>>We will know soon enough what will happen to Serena. imo, the only type punishment that will truly hurt her is a ban from a GS. So are they going for a punishment to hurt her, or one that fits the offence? I believe it should fit the offence, hence the ‘force her to play indian wells’, ‘ban her from a GS’ are all OTT imo.

Von Says:

Sean: I wasn’t talking about the front page poll on the consensus of opinion. To be truthful Sean, I never read that stuff, and hardly ever read the funk/trunk either. The last time I read that was when Fed lost to Tsnonga. I was talking more along the lines of the Yahoo and the NYT forums where the opinions appeared to be split, but I’ll take your word for it and defer to the Tennis.X opinion you’ve cited.

Von Says:

“As for JJ, wrist injuries in tennis are very serious. If it’s serious enough to retire in a final, why in the world would she play three sets with it a few days later? Had she pulled out of China i would have believed her 100%, but by playing it makes the retirement look a little suspect, doesn’t it?”

I mentioned this also. I don’t understand why she would risk further injury to her wrist if it was indeed so bad to make her retire. A couple of days rest for a wrist is nothing if it’s seriously injured — I speak from personal experience. And, I’m speculating she didn’t practice on the days following the retirement and her first round match due to the wrist, or did she?

i am it Says:

serena has just posed nude in the ESPN’s Body Issue that’s gonna hit the stand on friday.
she is the money that wta-itf cannot afford to ignore over some disciplinary issue.

been there Says:

i am it, I saw that….since the whole unfortunate US open meltdown, Serena’s been to almost all talk-shows & launched her book ‘on the line’. In addition, there was the launch of the ‘Serena against Mother nature’ advert by Proctor & Gamble. Nike & Wilson have also come in full force in her support….so those that were hoping for her to be dropped…ain’t happening ‘coz business is apparently very good.

On top of that, she’s been on TV promoting her fashion business in various programmes….& has had many magazine photo-shoots, with the ESPN Body Issue being the latest. she sometimes seems to have more photo-shoots than real-life models…quite an irony there.

A classic case of ‘in showbiz, no publicity is good publicity’. $£$dollars$£$ rolling in fast ‘n furious. lol. I rebuke her US Open meltdown, but it should now be given a rest. She is a tennis player & a business woman, engaged in showbiz…..not a politician or religious leader who is meant to be a moral compass.

been there Says:

*@11:03para3 should be : A classic case of ‘in showbiz, all publicity is good publicity’. ….

huh Says:

It’s hard to stop Serena from achieving milestones, a great player indeed, easily the best now and better than Henin IMO. Congrats to Serena fans.

hitmeinthegut Says:

thanks “been there” I didn’t think of all the things that could go wrong with forcing Serena to play Indian Wells.

thanks “MMT” at least you mentioned others besides the obvious (McEnroe, Agassi) who have abused linespeople. So the USTA, WTA, ITF didn’t do anything to these people either? I also believe that if Serena is suspended, Venus will go also. They both need a rest, like retire and come back as did Kim and soon Justine.

So, Sean Randall, call up the ITF, USTA, WTA and asked them about the “investigation” and get some real information to give us. And when you post again don’t call it “PENALTY-free” because she did get penalized. Serena was fined 10,000 US dollars when everyone else was fined up to 1500 US dollars. She also gave her winnings to Vanessa Williams charity (spina bifada). I think that is the name of it.

marija Says:

.JJ HAD to try to play in China, no matter what.With Anta and the possibility to qualify for Doha, she had no other choice.That’s why she retired from this final.Seeing her match against Peng, few days weren’t enough to heal obviously but she still played, risking to make her injury worse, and lost to a player she normally owns.At the end no possibility to defend her title and she is not even sure to be qualified for Doha or to be healthy enough to finish the year properly.Is she supposed to have done all this on purpose?
In the end Peng beat Maria too.

margot Says:

Andy M may not play Shanghai. Wrist injuries are horribly, horribly serious.

Lance Wex Says:

I agree with everything in this article and glad someone is saying it.

jane Says:

margot – sorry to hear that about Murray; I haven’t heard much in the press about him so I was hoping he’s on the mend. I believe you too are going to the YEC in London (?) so fingers crossed that Andy M is at his best for that event. He’ll have loads of supporters there, rooting him on.

jane Says:

margot, I found this link; it’s official – Murray has pulled out of Shanghai:

margot Says:

jane: hi and thanx for that. Yes, am going to two sessions at O2 end of year. To be honest who knows who I’ll see and would be v.v. happy with Fed.,Rafa, Djko etc etc leave alone Andy M.
BTW worst seats for live tennis win every time for me over screening. In fact I prefer live everything, would even rather see a film at a cinema than in comfort of own home, in spite of the popcorn noise! (This is theme from other thread but can’t be bothered to go back!)

jane Says:

margot – I know what you mean about “live”; I, too, love atmosphere, and the atmosphere at the cinema is enjoyable, I love live music, so I am sure I’d probably love live tennis too. i am hoping to go to the Roger’s Cup in Canada maybe next year or the year after.

Farce Says:

What Serena did to the line judge and her refusal to apologize even days later was a sheer confirmation of her arrogance and naivety. Worse than that, the USTA and other major tennis organizations have been so indecisive that it becomes obvious that they are only concerned with their ticket sales. I don’t blame them, because they are just running their businesses.

margot Says:

jane: Never been?? Go! Go! Go! I have been within touching distance of Johnny Mac…..ooooo….and others!

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