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.