Linespeople Await Serena Williams US Open Outburst Verdict

by Lynn Berenbaum | November 6th, 2009, 3:08 pm

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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38 Comments for Linespeople Await Serena Williams US Open Outburst Verdict

jane Says:

Here some people weigh in (some Aussies actually) on what should happen to Serena:

I don’t think a suspension from the AO would be too much to ask in this case. It would send a message to all players not to abuse the officials perhaps? And it would punish Serena much more than a fine, since she is a multi-millionaire. She prides herself on her slam results especially, so taking her out of contention for one of them might be more fitting? I don’t know. It is a difficult and contentious situation.

madmax Says:

Jane, for what its worth, i think the way serena reacted was disgraceful. i mean, really disgraceful. you could see the foul language that she used at the time. i really felt for the lineswoman, i thought she was very brave to even report what serena had said to her. but she did. serena was shocked at that, i think. As for banning her from AO, i dont think that would work. she brings in too much revenue for the slams and the women’s game needs serena (I think), she is been one of the few women on the womens tour who has been consistently at the top for 10 years – this is a bad blip in her incredible career, i dont think a ‘slam ban’, will work though. not even money, i think the public humiliation she has already served has made her realise that she overstepped the mark and i dont think she would even go to that place again.

jane Says:

You may be right madmax. I just wonder how the officials will feel if she gets off with a fine, which is small if one considers the size of her pocketbook. :)

TK Says:

The problem is many fan pay to watch her play

She has apologized for it and $10000 fines and cost her the match, on top off that there is no evidence showing there was a footfaut and its very unusual to get call a footfaul twice in a raw so all this added up is a problem to make a suspension

tyron Says:

i think that serena lost control, no one can dispute that . But given the fairness that she has exhibited on the court for the duration of her career, i think that she has been punished pleanty now and it is time to let her continue to do what she does best- tennis

tyron Says:

Furthermore, watching the championship tournament in Doha and Victoria Azarenka’s match, you saw the umpire repremand her decisively for her behavior and it proved that players are now really being held accountable for their behavior. I think that it would be foolish to make a scapegoat out of serena at this point- had that happened immediately would be one thing , but now two months after the fact .

madmax Says:

yes, i see what tyron is saying and also TK. I think it was just so surprising to see THAT reaction. Then again, the pressure that she was under, in the semi finals of the USO in front of her homecrowd. i really think she was publicly vilified for quite some time. But, like i said. Serena is box office.(just for the jewellery she wears on court!). she is a marketing dream. Not to have her play, is worse for them (the sponsors). Serena knows she did wrong. I dont think she will ever do that again. Even she surpassed herself that day!

Michael Says:

Wow. Real, mature conversation about Serena Williams? I can’t help but appreciate the way madmax and tyron view the SW outburst. She was dead-wrong. Made a huge mistake. Apologized after understanding her error and paid the $10,000.00 fine. If she is punished more, so be it. However, remind the umpires that in the heat of battle they need to view the last couple of points of the game with less scrunity. It was obvious Kim was going to win the match. She did not need any help defeating the #1 player in the world. Kudos to all!!!

TK Says:

I 10000% disagree with Michael say that “Kim was going to win the match” well serena has a good recored then anyone in WTA facing matchpoint and win the match. for example wimbeldon againt Dementieve, Doha against Venus so i would not say she is going to lose the match if i was you.

sar Says:

I think she should get something because she ruined Clijsters’ win.

Nina Says:

The fine she got is a complete joke. She should have lost all the price money and banned from playing after the Open. WTA just tactically waited so they could milk their cashcow until the end of the season.Well, no wonder they rely on her so much when she gets all the hype and litte recognition is given to other talented players. I think she wasn’t villified at all, she got away with a few scars vehemently saying this outburst was out of character. Who knows, maybe off-court she’s much worse. I think she should be banned from slams this year, that is the only thing what more or less matters to her as that earns the big bucks and glamour she craves so much. Good on the ref in Doha for telling of Victoria,too. I think stars need to be shown they also must have some respect when on the court.

madmax Says:

reading your comments everyone, i can understand how you feel about banning serena, but if this was the case, dont you think it should have happened much, much earlier. That the WTA should have made an example of her TWO MONTHS AGO? you shouldnt have to keep paying the price for something that happened. If she was going to be banned, then that should have happened shortly after the match. not more than 2 months later.

I agree with Sar saying that she did spoil cloisters win. most definitely. It was such an incredible comeback after taking 2 years off to have her daughter, to come back and to go on to win the USO semi, and eventual final – was just a dream come true – what serena did was awful. worse than awful. shocking, disgusting,threatening a lineswomen, completely brought the game into disrepute with her language/pointing, threatening finger. but that was then, this is now. you can’t punish someone again? can you?

Mister H Says:

Serena is one of the most recognisable faces on the planet and one of the few in tennis along with her sister who can be spoken of by their first name only (Roger & Rafa on the men’s side). For this reason alone the punishment was never going to fit the crime. McEnroe talked in his book about pushing the envelope with the Tennis authorities because he was No. 1 and the marquee name in Men’s tennis. Serena knew that she wouldn’t be punished in any tangible way after the fact but I honestly believe she didn’t do this out of spite for Kim (Serena respects her main rivals very much including Justine). Serena exists in her “bubble” when she’s playing and I feel this incident was a culmination of the frustration she felt about her own play on the night (witness the destruction of the racket) and the incident with the lines judge was the straw that broke the camels back. Having said all of this I must admit I believe that discipline in sport is important and the players are role models so a ban for say the next month after the US Open would have been an appropriate punishment. However I don’t believe that she should suffer a “special” ban for the Slams because she is a top player. The ban has to be the same for each player irrespective of whether they are No.1 in the world or No. 150. Also I believe that during a months ban Serena should have been given some grassworks tennis outreach work to fulfill as a parallel to community service. I say all this as a huge Serena fan (I’ve even met her Dad!) having watched the match in question live via satellite in the middle of the night in England!

Hypnos Says:

It seems odd to discuss Williams ruining Clijster’s win or using profanity — did we forget that she threatened *physical violence* against the lineswoman?

What would happen to an NFL or NHL player if he threatened violence to a referee during a game? Probably suspended for the rest of the season.

While acting in the heat of the moment may be a mitigating factor, it is not an exculpatory one. To maintain fairness of competition officials cannot feel intimidated.

jane Says:

I just read this, which says Serena will likely get a fine. I thought she was already fined?!

I agree with those who say the punishment should have been handed out much more quickly than it was. Maybe Serena should have been banned from playing in the doubles final? It seemed odd to see her standing there with the trophy and big check after she’d just threatened to violently attack someone like one day earlier.

I also don’t think she was vilified very much in the press. It blew over quite quickly. And her behaviour was less than exemplary. Whether she’s a big draw or not, she should still be penalized in some meaningful way. I don’t know what that should be, but it should matter.

i am it Says:

OK, j., you made me speak. from corporate point of view, it makes sense to fine her further (i’d fine her a $1 mil. or something, the cost of Slam prize money) so that you don’t lose the US market during the AO. i think AO as well as WTA also played its card to prevent Serena suspension. i would release the verdict right after the AO and ban her for 3-4 months, say until FO, so that not much WTA revenue is affected and you also teach Serena a lesson.

pam Says:

If that had happened in the NBA or NFL the player would have been tossed immediately and the commissioner would have levied a fine and suspension by the end of the next day.

LittleMo Says:

I’m not a young hot-head – 53 yrs. old – but I still think that the governing body of tennis needs to throw the book at Serena. There is supposedly the possibility of her having to forfeit the prize money she won at the US Open – I’d go further than that and make her forfeit everything she won since the open and suspend her for an entire season, including all of her beloved “big” tournaments. She has been fined and reprimanded before which only goes to prove it does no good and she learned nothing or this wouldn’t have happened. As for going easy on the calls, I have to respectufully disagree. When competition is at its fiercest and the stakes are at their highest is when officials have to be the most vigilant because that’s when things, both big adn little, mean the most. Lastly, people need to remember that Serena approached that woman in a manner that implied pending bodily harm brandishing the racquet and the ball. Her conduct and her language elevated the ball and racquet to “weapon” status. If anyone did in public what Serena did they could be charged with assault with/without weapon, threat of bodily harm, terroristic threats, and any number of other things. The fact that it was Serena Williams on a tennis court does not excuse it or diminish it.

Michael Says:

Any athlete knows Kim C was in a zone against all of her opponents during the USO. I am a Serena fan for life but it was obvious she was going down regardless of the controversial call. Therefore, the lines judge should have just let them play and watch Kim win without a questionable call. Serena is still No. 1 and I just bet a million dollar fine will not cause another tirade. Us, poor folk, think that’s a lot of money because we have always been broke. Community service would have definitely been a better avenue than just suspension. She will still be rich and she will still come back and beat all her opponents like she did in the Australian Open a couple years ago. All you haters make me laugh. Just keep hating and I will keep laughing. Nina you are special and madmax watch your temper, man. Ha,ha. Hee,hee.

Michael Says:

Come on, Nina. Come on, sar. Come on, madmax…which one is the worse Elizabeth Lambert or Serena? Oh, maybe you didn’t see that girl in soccer slapping, pulling hair and acting like a real thug. Prison time is my suggestion.

been there Says:

LittleMo Says:

“If anyone did in public what Serena did they could be charged with assault with/without weapon, threat of bodily harm, terroristic threats, and any number of other things.”

Threat of bodily harm, maybe, just maybe, she’d be charged, but terroristic threats?! This is the most ridiculous thing I ever read regarding the whole Serena US open incident. Terroristic threats??? wow! Yet the American FBI haven’t pounced on her already? Hasn’t she also attended one of those invitational white-house guest dinners/concerts?…I didn’t know that a well-known terrorist has such exclusive access, especially so near to the US president with all that security!…I’ve also seen her glob-trotting since that incident, to Asia & to rich Middle-East, & she was in London just this week promoting her book, fresh from cashing in a cool $1.55 million in Doha ….how does she manage to get through airport security, especially those in the UK & US when the whole world knows that she’s made terroristic threats? Does she wear some kind of cool mask, or those morphing super-power cartoons are actually real… ‘coz otherwise everyone will know whom she is…the one who made terroristic threats!

My goodness, I think some people have taken this waaaay too seriously. I can see how the incident made people who disliked Serena pre-incident dislike her even more…. but accusations of terrorism is taking it, imo, way too far. At the end of the day, it’s still just tennis, which in the global scale of things, is actually nothing…just entertainment…nothing to do with terrorism.

But thanks for the laughs.

On another issue, why are some people so hot & bothered by Serena’s millions? Surely it doesn’t matter if someone is a millionaire or a pauper…the same punishment should be handed out, if claims of fairness are going to be true. In fact, in the real world, which I suppose tennis mirrors, the richer people often get away with things more easily. Not condoning her behaviour, but I really don’t see the need of discussing her millions. At the end of the day, even if she’s banned from tennis for a whole year or in an extreme scenario, completely, she’ll still be a millionaire…after-all, she’s just a part-time tennis player, running many businesses outside of tennis….& she’ll still be making millions with or without tennis.

Maybe I’m missing something..but I feel that if it’s her millions that are going to be a factor on the punishment, then the people quoting her millions – as per the article & a few comments – will never feel justified…’coz her millions aren’t going anywhere. She makes a few almost daily just by walking down a street to attend a gym session at a specified gym. :)

**off to make my own millions so that I’m not too jealous of Serena’s. hehe**

TK Says:

Some people talks idiot out here…Serena will NOT be banned thats the bottom line. she is allowed to play no matter what. She is multi-milliner because she work for it, she didn’t just got it out of no where…
i heard enough, and enough is enough,and we have to move on………….

Linda Says:

Serena made a mistake and I have no doubt that she will grow from this. I know the game has changed and all that but look at the US Open match between Serena and Jennifer Capriatti and the shocking and totally unprofessional way that was dealt with, and millions of viewers witnessed what Serena had to deal with and all she got after was an “official apology” and everything swept under the carpet. It was clear that certain lines people and the umpire were involved in this and Serena held her cool. Even the commentators were asking throughout the match where the officias were and why the match wasn’t been stopped. I also think the investigation has taken this long because there’s a lot more to it. When they showed the lines person, I was like ‘you’ve called her on foot fault in other matches. The same if they decide to take action against Andre, they need to take action against the persons who looked the other way.

Michael Says:

Aw,come on, LittleMo, you aren’t anything fun!!!Geez.

margot Says:

Come on folks! For the records, if she were in UK and did this in a public place, actually coincidentally she IS in UK at the mo, she would have received a police caution and maybe an ASBO which would have prevented her from going near that linesperson for a fixed period of time! Perhaps that’s the answer? Mountains and molehills spring to mind.

cj Says:

she should NOT have been allowed to play for the doubles title with her sister in the US Open.
period. That and the fine would have been enough for me. It would’ve been tough for Venus…and for Serena…even tougher in that situation.

tenisbebe Says:

TK says “on top off that there is no evidence showing there was a footfaut and its very unusual to get call a footfaul twice in a raw so all this added up is a problem to make a suspension.”

Well Martina N. saw it on TC coverage RIGHT AWAY. She said “oh yeah, her foot went over the line” and she was sitting right there on court, not looking through the camaramen’s lens. Regardless, this excuse is BS – if a lineperson calls a footfault, you have to deal with it – ASK MARAT SAFIN. The linesperson is not the villain here. Serena was WAY out of line and should not have been allowed to play the doubles final – period. Now, 2 months later, tennis’ ruling body just looks lame…

sensationalsafin Says:

Hahahahahahahahah I forgot about Safin’s foot fault escapades. Serena should be ashamed of herself. Safin managed to somewhat keep his composure despite his hatred of foot faults. He just bitched about it in interviews without threatening anyone’s life.

In any case, Navratilova sucks at life.

tenisbebe Says:

sensationalsafin Says: “In any case, Navratilova sucks at life.” Whoa dude. She’s a great champion, commentator & ambassador for the sport. Although I too am not happy with the comments she made regarding AA’s meth use reveal, which I though were classless, still both he AND she still have my respect.

sensationalsafin Says:

Until she apologizes to Agassi, she’s lost all my respect.

Mary Says:

SS: Martina was right to call Agassi out. Most of the negative reaction, like hers, is due to him ratting people out to sell a book.
In the book, Agassi admits to doping all through his career. His dad was giving him pills. Even after Agassi knew what his dad was giving him, he contined to take the pills. In addition, he writes that he tanked matches. Are you suppose to pat him on the back and give him a cookie?

There are plenty of players on both sides of the tour going off the rails. In his 60 Minutes interview, he complains that the tour does nothing to help those players. If he spoken about the subject, instead of selling a book, he could have helped those players.

marian Says:

We’ve seen in the past how other tennis players were practically shooed out of the sport by both the tennis association and the media. Yet it seemed that everybody tiptoed on Serena Williams. Read her statement again; does it sound like someone who is contrite? Her language and actions following the call both demonstrated violence. Sad thing is is there is self-respecting player out there who will boycott tennis tournaments where Serena will be playing?

Serena is American Women Tennis. There, you have your model for the mascot for the American female bully.

Sunshine Says:

The ITF will not suspend her because a fine is enough.I personally am so sick of all you people calling for suspensions like you’ve never lost your temper before,she apologized and that’s good enough for me.Get over it people,she is Serena and you can hate her or love her,either way,I don’t think she loses any sleep over the haters.Love you Serena and Andre:)

KC Says:

Serena Williams guaranteed herself the world number 1 ranking.We should think twice before making comment on her ruling ok.

Race is an Issue Says:

It’s all racist… the only reason all this is going on is because it is a black woman… what if it had been a white woman? would u have been so afraid of what might happen? I think not – because you have faith, belief and confidence that a little white girl would be in control despite her actions. But with a little black girl, u don’t have as much confidence, the black culture sticks in your head and you are just wondering “umhnnnn what if”… Well, this is still racism… even when Mac goes off the deep end… u still have faith and confidence enough to say, “ahhhh, he’s just venting – he’s allowed. He wont go overboard.”

I caution the public to put this same faith, belief and confidence in Serena or the backlash would probably be great on the tennis community. Boycotts and all, u already had one incident this year with Zina Garrison.

We simply wait, “silently”…

JN Says:

She was fined. Move on.

Montana Says:

Elizabeth Lambert is a junior at the University of New Mexico, and plays for their soccer team the Lobos originally from California (too bad for California). So, this loser knows they are going in to a game that they will most likely lose and since they do not have the talent to score they resort to this kind of play, it has very minor thought to it than let’s say passisng the ball through your opponents defense and scoring a goal.

The other issue is the where were the referees, were they all older white men with their tongues out, enamored and unable to call the game objectively (this game had so many penalties that did not get called), I mean what are they getting paid to do. Who has paid these guys off? Do we have to change the game where only women referees can call women games. After watching the video someone was paid off, that is my conclusion.

And Lizzy, watch you back and please stay out of soccer (you real should be banned, the game does not need people like you in it), so many will be gunning for you now. Who knows maybe you were just drumming up business for your “Occupational Therapy practice”, yah good luck with that, I doubt your bed side manner is any different from your sportsmanship.

KoOmZ Says:

Well after all that has been said about Ms Williams i really think its time to bury the hatches and get over it! She has already paid the fine! what the hell would woman’s tennis be like without her! obviously boring…if anything she has made woman’s tennis what is today! have use all not seen how the younger tennis players in the top 10 play..if anything they all try to hit as hard and fast as she can but don’t mentally make anything of it! for what its is worth i believe Serena Williams has done her time and she has apologized for it! race is not the issue here its people going on and on. I guess its easier for a lot of people to sit back at home and judge for that outburst but can any of you seriously do what she has done! NO i don’t think so..well that’s my view on this VERY OLD subject its time to move on people stop living in the past and LOOK forward to 2010’s Tennis and what exciting things are about to become of it! THANKS

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