Serena Williams Gets Fined $175,000 For Yelling At A Line Judge

Will have fine reduced to $82,500 if she behaves for 2 years

Dang … The Grand Slam Committee that oversees the world’s Tennis Grand Slam tournaments really takes charges of unsportsmanlike conduct seriously. You may recall that Serena Williams blew up at a line judge back in September during a US Open match against Kim Clijsters when she threatened said judge by allegedly yelling, I’m gonna kill you! I swear to God, I’m fucking taking this ball and I’m shoving it down your fucking throat (click HERE for video). Well, her punishment for that incident has finally been handed down … to the tune of $175,000! Wow!


Serena Williams, the top-ranked player in women’s tennis, will pay a price for her threatening, profanity-laced tirade against a lineswoman in the semifinals of the United States Open. The Grand Slam committee fined Williams $175,000 in a decision announced Monday, but decided against suspending her from next year’s Open or any other Grand Slam event. Instead, the committee followed the recommendation of its administrator and lead investigator, Bill Babcock, and adopted a middle path by heavily fining her and placing her on two years’ probation. If she commits another major offense in the next two seasons at one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, she will be automatically suspended from the subsequent United States Open. In addition, if she does not commit another major offense in the next two years, she will have her fine reduced to $82,500. Even at that level, it would be the largest fine levied against a player for misbehavior at a Grand Slam: far more than the roughly $30,000 that the American Jeff Tarango was ultimately fined for walking off the court at Wimbledon in 1995 after an argument with the French chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh. Tarango’s wife, Benedicte, later slapped Rebeuh in the face. Tarango was suspended from Wimbledon in 1996. Williams declined an interview request through her management team but issued a statement. “I am thankful that we now have closure on the incident, and we can all move forward,” her statement read. “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 can appeal within 10 days of the ruling, which was rendered Saturday. But an appeal is unlikely because her statement emphasized closure and she could have been given a much harsher penalty, including a suspension and the loss of her prize money from the Open. Williams lost her singles semifinal to Kim Clijsters, earning $350,000, then won the women’s doubles with her sister Venus Williams, sharing $420,000. In 2009, Serena Williams set a single-season record by earning $6,545,586 in prize money. Serena Williams lost her temper Sept. 12 while serving to stay in the match against Clijsters. Trailing, 4-6, 5-6 and 15-30, she was called for a foot fault after a second serve, which gave the point to Clijsters and brought up match point. Williams, upset at the timing of the foot-fault call, turned toward the lineswoman who had made the call and, using profanity, threatened to stuff a tennis ball down her throat. Williams, who had received an official warning for smashing a racket earlier in the match, was eventually given a point penalty on court by the tournament referee Brian Earley. With Williams facing match point, the decision gave Clijsters the victory. Williams, initially unapologetic and evasive, incrementally amplified her apology over the next two days. She was fined the maximum $10,000 during the tournament but was permitted to play in the doubles final the next day. That $10,000 fine will be deducted from the total announced Monday.

Dang … talk about paying the price for losing one’s temper. I guess Williams really did need to be punished for this infraction but $175k seems like a tough lesson to swallow. In the end, tho, athletes are regular people prone to losing their temper just like everyone else. I suspect that other pro athletes might think twice before blowing up at officials like this in the future … but, to be honest, it’s hard to stay rational in the heat of the moment. I hope Serena will learn to keep her cool tho … paying out this much money in fines is just stupid.

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  1. line judges make things more stressful.
    but DAMN is that a huge fine!!! bet she wont be yelling at anymore any time soon!

  2. CHASE

    She absolutely deserves it! I’m tired of her arrogant attitude all the effing time. I’m a regular tennis watcher and the way she behaved was totally childish. I mean, poor sportsmanship much? Sure line judges can make things more stressful but you have to OBEY by their rules and the camera even caught the evidence so in reality she should just suck it up and stop being a little whiner like she is. KTHANX

  3. VegasLuvr

    Completely agree Chase!

  4. i agree too chase.
    but you cant deny thats a ginormous fine lol.

  5. Chris

    An enormous fine is appropriate for her enormous salary. And with her making death threats, couldn’t the police have been involved if the tournament officials wanted to be really nasty? I’m pleased to see a professional sport taking a strong stance against poor sportsmanship.

  6. bob

    Your right Chase. she was totally arrogant. she is only the number 1 player in the world, made the most money in a single season, and the most career earning for a female player. Her arrogance is totally undeserved.

    Yes she completely lost it but the first thing she did is congratulate kim clijsters on the win. the whole debacle tainted kim’s win because they are talking about serena more than kim. she deserved to be fined … but the ITF seems to treat women differently than men. richard gasquet had cocaine in his system but he was not banned … martina hingis had the same drug in her system (allegedly less) and was banned for 2 years.

  7. ella

    I just finished reading some interviews with Serina after the incident and man o man is she awful. She absolutely did not want to apologize and thought nothing of what she said to the line judge. I loose my temper all the time. I do not ever threaten to kill someone.

  8. ella

    I never loose my temper, I do lose it often.

  9. Bren

    I think her attitude after the fact, not being apologetic etc, is why the fine is so large. They take this stuff seriously. If she had gotten a slap on the wrist for this, we would see an increase in that sort of behavior. As such…not so much. lol

  10. Tasha

    John McEnroe used to behave much worse on a regular basis and only received an occasional light slap on the wrist. I can think of many of the male players who are much more arrogant than Serena, Stepanek and Jkovic immediately come to mind. That said, I think the fine would be appropriate for all players who behave like that on court. The fine may seem high, but it’s just pocket change to her. But I see the type of attitude she has in elite male athletes in all sports and no one calls them arrogant, just confident and talented.

  11. m

    it’s just a drop in the bucket for serena.

  12. Ron

    Serena got off easy. Take a look at the whole video: she’s shaking her raquet at the line judge during her tirade. Any other sport, she would have been suspended for multiple events along with a fine. Can you imagine if a baseball player yelled at an umpire like that while shaking a bat at him?

    Does anyone know where a copy of the entire statement from Serena (or, more correctly, her publicist) is that was just released? I’d be interested to know if she made any sort of an apology or showed any remorse for her actions.

  13. Court

    Thank You Tasha! i was thinkin that same thing when this all went down.

    I think the fine is huge but eh. it is what it is i guess. lol

  14. JG

    I saw the incident in person and everyone around me heard her very clearly. She had obviously been in a bad mood throughout the match screaming and also smashed her raquet at one point. It was completely inappropriate and I still can’t believe they let her play the doubles final. At least she’s getting some sort of punishment for her actions because the first 10,000 fine was ridiculous.

  15. Dr. Whore

    Tasha, just to remind you. John McEnroe, in his fourth round match against Mikael Pernfors at the 1990 Australian Open, was disqualified for swearing at the umpire, supervisor, and referee. He was also subject to many fines over the years for his behavior. Serena is not being singled out because of her gender; she is in fact being treated just like the men.

  16. Jill

    It’s horrible that she would set that kind of example for kids that watch her. I’m disgusted by her actions, and 175K is a drop in the bucket. I still don’t think a monetary fine is stringent enough; if a player cannot act mature, he or she should not be allowed to play.

  17. Jill

    @Ron, I completely agree with you! Yes she did apologize, but who cares after she acted so badly?
    http://www.serenawilliams.com/blog_message_detail.php?msg=125

  18. Shelly

    Whatever… that’s pocket change to her. I wish more pro athletes got larger fines for their idiocy.

  19. stillstanding2

    I wonder what you guys would be saying if this was Davenport, Sharapova, or any of your other blond hair blue eyes player. Envy has reared it ugly head. If the other US players are so good why are they not in the top 20. Serena just bought her a very good lesson that her father gave her for free so long ago. No matter how good you are at your craft there are always people who want to keep you on the bottom of the ladder and it has nothing to do with your craft. Never let your guard down on these beasties. This should be her motivation to buckle down, concentrate on tennis, play kick a$$ matches and make these a$$ holes eat their words. You know she can end these matches so quickly that fans will want a refunds. She should stop entertaining these b’a$$ they don’t care about her. They have double standards for her and her sister. Let’s see if your US Open anointed great white hope comes through for you next year.

  20. Faye

    She got what she deserved — if anything, she got off easily. It’s true that athletes are “regular people prone to losing their temper,” but in the real world, those “regular people” would be fired, or worse, for threatening to kill a boss or superior. In my line of work (Federal government), you can get jail time for that kind of “temper tantrum!”

  21. Ally

    Johnny Mac used to yell a lot, but I never remember him actually threatening a line judge. That’s what is so horrible about it. Athletes shouldn’t be allowed to behave this way in any sport, let alone tennis which has always been considered a “gentleman/ladies game”.

  22. Smoo

    whether we like it or not, she ISN’T a regular person.

  23. Janelle

    @still standing2 – I sincerely hope you don’t bring race into every aspect of your life if there’s a problem. There are lots of white girls who suck and are just as rude as serena was at that incident. No one here brought up race. No one. They are not ignorant – what they saw was a PERSON acting unprofessional. I hope one day YOU will too on this incident.

  24. mike

    when david beckham lost his temper with a rude fan, everyone tsk tsked him and some people are trying to reason her outburst as a heat of the moment thing. I am glad she got fined, I guess it teaches all athletes a valuable lesson..

  25. Synnerman

    Oh please. If she was Davenport or Hingis she would have skirted. And the “Death threat” criers are full of bigoted shit. Male athletes should be fined for “death threats” all the time then.

  26. bryan

    Serena thinks she is above it all. Her behavior towards the lineswoman was grounds for suspension and disqualification. She should have lost all prize money for the tournament and ranking points; she didn’t deserve them. People can continue to claim that people want to keep Serena down but those people are probably just as unaccountable as she is…She’s a bit of a thug…that’s obvious.

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