Friday 24 November 2017

Williams escapes with $2,000 fine

Simon Briggs

Serena Williams escaped with the feeblest of punishments for her poisonous tirade at chair umpire Eva Asderaki on Sunday night. After reviewing the evidence, Grand Slam committee director Bill Babcock let her off with a paltry $2,000 (€1,460) fine.

The ruling only adds to the impression that Williams is bigger than the game. Do not forget that she has previous in this area. She has been on a two-year probation since threatening a lineswoman at the 2009 US Open, telling her she would stuff a ball down her throat.

Somehow, though, Babcock decided that her latest outburst did not constitute a major offence. The $2,000 fine was the minimum punishment he could have applied, given that Asderaki had issued Williams with a code violation for verbal abuse during the match, which Williams lost 2-6, 3-6 to Sam Stosur.

The fine represents one seven-hundredth of Williams' income from this tournament. She won $900,000 (€658,000) as her runner-up prize and an extra $500,000 (€365,000) for finishing first in the US Open Series, which takes into account results in other hard-court tournaments during the American summer. Asderaki, by contrast, would have collected $250 as her match fee.

Just to recap the events of Sunday night: it began when Williams -- who had lost the first set and was break point down in the second -- powered a forehand towards the Australian's backhand corner. It was probably a winning shot, but if the strike was sweet, the consequences were anything but.

Rather than waiting for Stosur to attempt her retrieval, Williams yelled "come on" before the racket had made contact with the ball. Asderaki promptly applied the rules on "hindrance", and gave the point to the Australian.

At this point, Williams charged up to the umpire and shouted: "Aren't you the one who screwed me over last time?" -- a reference, perhaps, to a similar but less controversial incident in Doha in 2003.

But the worst of the abuse came at the next change of ends, when Williams, lapsing into what sounded like counselling-speak, called Asderaki "a hater" and said "you're very unattractive inside".

Damningly, Williams was offered many opportunities to apologise at the post-match press conference, but she refused to show any contrition, just as she had refused to shake Asderaki's hand at the end of the match.

Asked whether it had been fair to victimise the umpire, she replied: "I think everyone is so intense out there. I was really intense, and everyone just wants to do great. I know I did." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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