Serena Williams Outburst: U.S. Open Tirade Brings Record $82K Fine, Two Years Probation
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Point taken from Serena Williams -- and a record $82,500 fine, too – for the tennis superstar's foul-mouthed tirade against a line judge during this summer's U.S. Open semifinals.
Williams got smashed with the largest fine ever levied for bad behavior during a tennis Grand Slam, according to the Associated Press, plus probation that means she could be suspended from the U.S. Open if she has another "major offense" at any Grand Slam event in the next two years.
In a statement from her publicist Monday, the single-season earnings winner in women's tennis, said "I am thankful that we now have closure on the incident and we can all move forward." She added, "I am back in training in preparation for next season and I continue to be grateful for all of the support from my fans and the tennis community."
Williams' outburst came during the Sept. 12 seminfinal match against eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open. A line judge's call of "foot fault" — a call rarely, if ever, made at that stage of such a significant match — resulted in a double-fault for Williams, moving Clijsters within one point of victory.
Williams paused, retrieved a ball to serve again and then stopped. She stepped toward the official, screaming, cursing, finger-pointing, and shaking the ball at her. Williams was penalized a point for that display; because it happened to come on match point, it ended the semifinal with Clijsters ahead 6-4, 7-5.
The ruling by Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock was released Monday, and he said that Williams faces a "probationary period" at the four major championships in 2010 and 2011. If she has another "major offense" during that time the fine, already nearly double the previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offense — about $48,000 that Jeff Tarango was docked in the 1990s – would increase to the maximum $175,000, and she would be barred from the following U.S. Open.
He said Williams is handing over $82,500 right now, and was previously fined $10,000 by the U.S. Tennis Association in September — the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face.
Williams earned more than $6.5 million in prize money in 2009, a single-season record for women's tennis, with career winnings of more than $28 million. She is an 11-time Grand Slam singles champion and ended the 2009 season at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
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