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September 14th, 2009
10:39 AM ET

Serena Williams' tennis outburst under review

A profanity-laced outburst by tennis superstar Serena Williams could cost her a lot more than originally thought. Williams has already been hit with a $10,000 fine for swearing and waving her racquet at a line judge. She was also fined an additional $500 for racquet abuse when she threw her racquet and broke it earlier in the match.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/14/wertheim.art.jpg caption="Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated calls Serena Williams' outburst unprecedented."]

The incident with the line judge occurred after she was called on a foot fault in the semifinals of this weekend’s U.S. Open. If officials decide Williams committed a major offense under the Grand Slam rules, she could lose all of her prize money and maybe even suspended from a future Grand Slam event.

Jon Wertheim has been covering the U.S. Open for Sports Illustrated where he's the senior tennis writer. He joined John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Monday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

John Roberts: Have you ever seen anything like this?

Jon Wertheim: Not like that. And certainly not from Serena. We've seen players lose it with officials but to get that close and threaten like that. Also, at that stage – a Grand Slam semifinal. That was unprecedented as far as I’ve seen.

Roberts: There is no clear angle that I have seen on the foot fault. Apparently that line judge, though, she's very good. She's very confident in the calls that she makes. Serena had been called for a foot fault a couple – three games earlier on the other side of the court by a different line judge. If it was an infraction, it was a minor one. She wasn’t a foot into the court or anything like that. Maybe she touched the line. Looking at it, John McEnroe said you don't call something like that at that point in the game. It was 15-30 with Serena serving, and she touched the line. Should that even have been called?

Wertheim: I mean, you know, in a perfect world it never happens, but I don't think you can waive off infractions. You get on slippery terrain pretty quickly when you make calls or don't make calls based on where you are in the match. I mean, you're either over the line or not. Unfortunately, you wish one way or the other there was conclusive video. It was a pretty shaky call, but that in no way excuses what followed.

Roberts: You see her when she's serving up the second serve there she lifts the toe of her left foot, does it wander over onto the line? It’s really unclear. In the press conference afterwards, which you were at, she didn't say whether or not she actually foot faulted. She said maybe I did. She didn't apologize but talked about the encounter between her and the line judge.

She said, “I think she said I would kill you and I was like what? I was like wait a minute. But then I had misheard, she had never said that. That was just something - I was like whoa. I was like wait a minute. Let's not, because I'm not that way.”

Maybe she didn't say “I'm going to kill you,” but what she did apparently say, because we've seen it on camera, “I swear I [expletive] want to take this ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat.” You were at that presser. What did you think of her appearance?

Wertheim: She had calmed down considerably, which is good. But you would have liked to see a little more contrition. This was a pretty big violation. … This was way over the line. Serena had calmed down and was even sort of joking about it but not a whole lot of apology. That was disappointing.

Roberts: John McEnroe, famous as one of the bad boys of tennis when he was playing, said you can't defend the indefensible. Look at what McEnroe has done over the years. I was reviewing an old match that he had with Lendl and the umpire called an ace and McEnroe comes over and there's so many expletives coming out of his mouth it’s really unsuitable for television. He was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. What's the difference between the way he behaved and how Serena behaved on Saturday night?

Wertheim: He faced consequences. I don’t think there’s a double standard here where people turned a blind eye. Also, I don't recall John McEnroe approaching the official and making a physical threat like that.

Roberts: So what do you think is going to happen? Sportscaster Mary Carillo was mocking the fine that was assessed to her. She says she could be suspended from the game, at least suspended from a Grand Slam event. What do you think?

Wertheim: I think maybe there's a creative solution. I mean, a fine is going to be silly no matter what. She'll make $500,000 this tournament alone. $10,000 is chopping money. By the same token, she's done an awful lot of good for the sport. We've seen players whack balls at fans in anger and not be suspended. I think a suspension is hard to justify. But there’s got to be another alternative there. Clearly, this needs to go punished but I think there are options other than a fine or suspension.

Roberts: She has new book coming out this week, "On the Line." She's supposed to be here on Wednesday to chat about that, so we'll see if she makes it. Hopefully we'll get her side of the story.


Filed under: Sports
soundoff (522 Responses)
  1. AndyV

    First, the line judges job is to judge the line the whole match. She had a better angle period. McEnroe and company were out of line saying that it was wrong to call a foot fault at that time of the match. So why have a line judge at all. Williams should be suspended period. Verbally & physically threatening a judge IS a big deal no matter who you are.
    Its hard enough to watch womens tennis these days with all the prima donnas, the shrieking, the length of play & the favoritism by the announcers. But to let something this serious go by with just a slap on the wrist is a serious blow to the sport in general.
    All we hear about is the youngsters coming up. What does this teach them?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  2. Chris

    Oh stop your whining.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  3. Rob

    I hope Serena never makes a comeback. She is a disgrace to the sport of tennis. She makes all Americans appear ugly and disgraceful.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  4. Mike

    Wow, people are making excuses why it is alright to act like that. When did it become alright for people to stop acting like a decent human being? I agree with the earlier posts, there is an alarming trend of reprehensible behavior that just keeps pushing the limits. Enough is enough, grow up and be accountable for your behavior.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  5. Greg

    Banned for life? Come on. Yes she should be reprimanded. It was a mistake by her. But banned for life? I am a white guy, and you know I hate it when the race card is played, but I can't think of any other reason why you all would say stuff like that. I play sports, and I know at times tempers can flare. It just happens.

    Kayne West acted like a punk, but as for Joe Wilson. I applaud that guy for sticking up for what he believes. I voted for Obama, and I like Obama, but there needs to be more speaking out like what was done by Wilson. Have you ever watched British parliament?(I think its parliament).

    September 14, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  6. Kevin Dilley

    to: flenser
    re: "Why should a 2 second outburst that didn’t actually harm anything or anyone merit more punishment than costing her a game she spent so much time preparing for?"

    Here's how this outburst hurts: I was watching with my seven-year-old daughter, and novice tennis player. She became visibily upset watching this, and I couldn't turn it off in time to hold back her tears and questions. She actually asked "Dad, is it okay to yell at the ref when you disagree with them?" Hmmm...now that's one I shouldn't have to deal with while watching a professional.

    So, now on the list of "professional" sports we don't watch, tennis is added to hockey, football, baseball, basketball.

    What am I to say "It's okay honey, as long as you've worked hard, and you're really good. If you think the ref is wrong, please yell at them and threaten to shove something down their throat. All will be forgiven by your fellow competitors."

    And yes flesnr, I compete.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  7. karen

    Nothing short of a suspension would be sufficient. She has always thought that she was above everyone else and now the gutter has shown it colors. A poor example of a sportsman (woman) and no way should she be allowed to get away (again!). Time we stop this nonsense.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  8. Don Anderson

    Just because we react differently to stress and failure does not mean we should be ostracized. Tennis is how Serena makes her living....to ban her is NOT RIGHT!!! All who say she should be bannhed are HATERS!!!!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  9. Luciana

    Suspend her? Really? If you didn't see, she was correct. It was not a foot vault!!! Granted, she didn't handle the situation well but she should not be suspended. Period!!!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  10. KennyG

    She was wrong but so was the call – probably. Add a camara to check for foot faults so that challenges can be made. Better yet, remove the rule unless the player actually steps onto the court, beyond the line.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  11. Billy

    Rules need to apply across the board. The ref for some of the earlier matches should be asked why they were letting raquet abuse go, but not with Serena. On the other hand, Serena deserved the call, and deserves more than a 10,000 fine for acting like she was on a Jerry Springer episode. I think anytime you threaten an official with words like 'I wanna jam this down your throat' instead of the typical 'what ? are you blind' type of remark, you deserve maximum penalty of some kind. Very very bad.

    What is with folks this last couple of weeks? Wilson and Kanye I kind of expect trash from trash, but I had higher regard for Serena (until today)

    September 14, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  12. Rolando

    How can a line judge make that kind of a call, at that time in a match, without clear evidence of a violation. None of the TV cameras could pick up a fault. The official should have overruled the line judge. You haters need to get a grip.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  13. RMc

    McEnroe, Connors, Nastase - these guys cursed, spat, smashed racquets, threatened fans, etc. So it's OK for men but unacceptable for women? DOUBLE STANDARD!!! Yes, it is. Some of these racists were just waiting for something to happen with Serena or Venus because they've been so totally dominant, and Black & Beautiful! Total racist hypocrisy,

    September 14, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  14. Avi Shlomo

    Civility is lacking in our society and I feel the punishment is right. But it is strange how politicians are immune to these things. Before wilson, The Big Dick "Cheney" uttered exlplicits in addressing Senator Leahy. you just can't punish one segment of the society when the elites are immune from such judgment. I say it starts from the top and it is time we examine our values.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  15. Rohini

    It is clear from Serena's statement after the incident that she feels no remorse or regret. If she did, we would have heard the word "sorry" in her statement. She only talks about the encounter and stating that she let her emotions get the better of her is in no way a form of apology.

    It's also quite amusing to read how some people try to justify her behavior by saying she's very competitive and had a "bad day" or "slipped up". I believe every single professional sportsperson is competitive and the reason why everyone doesn't behave this way is because they know a thing or two about being professional.

    Forget about fines and money – that means peanuts to a person in Serena's position. In my opinion, Serena should apologise face-to-face to the lines judge. Whether the call was right or wrong is irrespective – there is no justification for Serena's behavior. Publicly apologizing to the lines judge will hopefully make her regret her actions and actually feel sorry and regret the way she handled the situation.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  16. JP

    Its all about context – you can't compare scrawny Johnny Mac yelling up at a chair umpire with Serena towering over a meek line judge. Her threatening actions warrant a stiff penalty, but let's make lemonade from these lemons and fine her enough to pay for extending the video replay system to cover foot faults in all four majors.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  17. Greg

    This was way out of line. She just wasn't yelling or arguing with an official she was threatening her. And she was serious about it.
    Should she be suspended? Yes!! Definitely! Making threats like this and waving your finger and racket in a menacing manner could be considered a criminal offense.
    Did you see the fear in the line judge's face? She was in fear for her safety.
    I'd be disappointed if her sponsors didn't make a move here. And very disappointed if they didn't suspend her. It's obvious she isn't remorseful. Look at her on the VMAs last night. She thinks she's above it all.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  18. Erika

    It is so ridiculous, she should not be banned. Referees get beat up in other sports and I see tennis players threatening and breaking rackets all the time, without consequences. John Mcenroe should have stood up for Serena. I think the USTA is looking for a reason to get rid of the Williams sisters to promote the new blood. Serena is one of the best players on the tour if she is banned all we have is crap left to watch, Come on Safina #1.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  19. Nate

    First of all, to compare this to the Joe Wilson situation or the Kanye West incident is dumb. These are completely different scenarios.
    I'm ecstatic to see that someone brought the race card in to this as that's exactly what we need plenty more of. Give me a break. People lose their tempers...it happens. No one feels sorry for her, but to say this is "unprecented" is ridiculous. She should apologize, pay her fine her and move on. Yes, it sets a poor example for kids and loses some respect in the public's eyes, but people are people and they make mistakes.
    Whether you agree with Joe Wilson or not, what he did was wrong but he apologized. His actions were certainly nothing new in the world of politics, and now they're being used to distract everyone from the far more important matters at hand. Leave it to Washington to sweat the small stuff.
    Kanye, on the other hand, is just a complete idiot. He gets what he wants though: more attention.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  20. The Truth

    I'm sure a lot of folks would love for Serena (and possibly Venus for her affiliation with Serena) to be banned from all majors since she's been pummeling the competition for years. "Suspended from the sport permanently" . . . that tirade hardly justifies such a punative measure when baseball has players that have been doping (i.e. cheating) for decades to gain competitive advantages (No lifetime bans there).

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  21. GAK

    If Gonzalez smashed is racquet and nothing was done, then Serena has a legimate grievance with the penalties. That DOES NOT excuse her behavior. She should be fined and appropriate amount that will make an impact,say 1/4 of her earnings for the event..If there is not equality in the punishments and fines then there is a double standard within tennis..

    September 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  22. yvette

    To Christi Marie...what kind of image are you talking about, and African American image?? Punish and ban the man that dis-respected the President of the US.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  23. TennisNewbie

    The line judge was wrong, but Serena was even more wrong. However, any talk of permanent or indefinite suspension is idiotic. I saw a brawl the other day in a MLB game...the pitcher hit the batter (intentionally) with the ball and the batter pointed the Louisville Slugger at the pitcher before proceeding to the mound to punch his lights out....after the melee was over....there was no mention of a suspension, fine, ban, or any such talk.....let's face it...we live in a world of double standards etched in the fabric of our society. So let's stop, take a deep breath, and move on.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  24. Slugger

    If Serena is a disgrace, so was John MacEnro and Jimmy Connors. People are acting like a tennis player never berated an official before Serena Williams did it. Give me a break. Suspend her for a year? Get real. Fine her for a lousy lines woman's call and get over it. She didn't kill Nicole Simpson, she berated a tennis referee. You white folks are a stone trip.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  25. clint

    Just say you are "passionate" and you can get away with anything. How can an athlete tell an official that they want to shove a tennis ball down their throat? What would happen to a football, baseball, basketball or hockey player if they said something like that to an official? Passion is not an excuse for losing control and acting outside of accepted norms of behavior. Just ask Joe "I am a passionate idiot" Wilson.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  26. Craig

    Free speech does not extend to "fighting words". The point is made in the article that yes, John McEnroe swore at officials quite a bit, but he did not threaten physical contact.
    Additionally, the idea that the call should not have been made at that point in the match is ridiculous. An offense is an offense regardless of when it occurs. Otherwise you might as well be in the NBA, where offense are ignored every minute of the match.
    Serena did not argue that she foot-faulted, she was only angry that the linesman dared to make the call.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  27. Sheliah M.

    McEnroe and others (JUST LIKE HIM....unlike the Black Williams sisters) have acted AWFUL over the decades. Things, of course, were handled "differently" then...they were simply "letting off steam!" (Good ole boy and girl kinda stuff).

    Serena and VENUS, known for patience, INTELLIGENCE, poise and discretion...blows off steam ONCE...in their lifetimes and SUDDENLY they should be condemned to a cross.

    Does America recognize this is the 21st century and the time for HYPOCRISYY, double standards and racism are over? Serena obviously made a mistake...who in America has not?

    America should stop showing the world...it is still leaving in the past while FALSELY expecting the world to "follow it's lead" in HUMAN RIGHTS...rather than the HUMAN WRONGS each person in America lives with each day!

    JUST MY THOUGHTS,
    Sheliah M.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  28. Karen

    It is ridiculous to say she should be suspended for life or at all. She should be held accountable for her actions but suspension is not the answer. Serena has tolerated much in the game and handled it more graciously than most. Remember one of the main reasons they started the challenge system was because she got screwed in Australia. Remember when she lost a game because they called the score wrong and the umpire failed to correct it. What she did was wrong but this is not the first time that she has been wronged. But it was the first time she acted this way. Nor can I say what she did was unprecedented in this sport just unprecedented for her.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  29. Linkswords

    Serena became very spirited in her emotions on the court. She is so passionate about the sport and in a very tough match she directed her spirit from her opponent to the line judge. She should apologize for the outburst, but that is it. If people across America can go to town hall meeting and point fingers in elected officials face and scream at the top of their lungs in a very threatening way; without apology about an issue call health care then Serena is okay with me. If a dumb but congressman can call the President of the United States a lie, then I guess almost anything goes.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  30. Cam

    She could be charged with assault. The officials don't show up to work with the expectation of physical threats. Serena clearly stepped over the line (foot fault or not)

    September 14, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  31. openyoureyes

    Yes i'm going to say it. It is because she is a Black woman.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  32. Joanie

    This type of ego explosion needs to be reprimended severely. She needs to be expelled from the game for a long time as this will give tennis a bad name if she isn't. Too bad she isn't the lady her sister Venus is. Fining her won't mean a thing to her. Get rid of her.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  33. Kenny

    The chair umpire should have immediatley overuled the line judge when she could see Serena starting to boil, and none of this would have ever occured. I always say let the gifted people of the sports world decide things not the lazy want to be umpires and referees of the world if they wanted to be famous on TV like the athletes they should have worked harder at it.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  34. jd

    Serena had a very bad at the 'office"...many Americans do this everyday. She should be punished and "put on suspension" or whatever the rules call for. The fact that she has not immediately apologized to the lines person is as bad as what she had to say. I am one of her biggest fans and I think she should have handle this questionable call in a better manner. The second approach with the language, the tone, and the racket was just going too far. Serena, c'mon now! "She has just moved on"..no way!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  35. JP

    Who is this Jon Werheim clown and the rest of you silly commentators who have never seen previous tennis matches? You must be insane to say this unprecedented and to act as if the white boys haven't been doing this for YEARS! I'm not making this a race issue but it is something to be looked at but it is for sure a sex issue. Anyone who wants her suspended is just a hater of her talent and is jealous. Go watch some past classic matches and see the precendented bad behavior displayed by some of the greats. She was wrong but so was Gonzalez when he THREW his racket that same day. Nothing said, nothing noted, no citation, zero.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  36. Barbi

    I have watched many of Serena's matches and many others play on TV. How come nobody makes a fuss when the guys in tennis get mad and yell? Serena did over react but that is unusual for her. To suspend somebody over it is not called for. Fine yes but to suspend, no. Hasn't happened in the past and shouldn't happen now.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  37. Whatever

    "How quickly we forget John McEnroe"

    Whatever John McEnroe was fined several time during his Tennis life. She should be fined and maybe banned for Today's matched and then move on. IDK black white, male female its unsportsman like conduct.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  38. NotHuman

    The line judge should not be taking in account the score of the game in making a call on the court. Her decision to call a foot fault is correct (whether or not it actually was correct). It is her decision.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  39. mwilson

    Christimarie, your suggested yearlong suspension doesn't seem to make sense on any level. First, it seems wildly disproportionate to the offense, considering somewhat similar actions by players in the past. Second, the WTA would lose money for that year that Serena was not playing in any tournaments...don't forget, her presence generates attention and money for the sport.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  40. Kevin in Chicago

    If Serena had been a man, no one would have cared. Gonzalez had an outburst earlier that day where he flung his racket yet no their coverage of it. Serena is being punished by the U.S. Open because she is a successful black woman! One step forward, two steps back. If they had fined everyone that day for their outburst, fine. But since they ignored the white skinned man's outburst, it's suspicious.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  41. t

    Serena Williams is a superior athlete and has brought so much the game of tennis. Just because she doesn't fit your mould of a white, sweater wearing tennis player does not mean she should be banned. Those comments are ridiculous and reeks of racism. Her behaviour when she left was calm and fitting for the moment. The call should never have been made and obviously, there is no clear answer on whether it was a foot fault or not.

    Male athletes have made horrific errors with guns, assault charges and more throughout the years and none of them get banned? Get some perspective people.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  42. Kevin

    And as far as the diffterence between Serena's on-court punishment and other players receiving punishment???... NOTHING!!! She received a warnging at the end of the first set for smashing her racquet, and the second warning, which resulted in a loss of point on match point for dropping the F-bomb at least twTWICE. How many sports tolerate that kind of behavior towards officials??? None that I know of. Im not saying that she should be penalized or fined... but she should at least come out and appologize.

    But what did she do in the press conference??? Mention how she was going to be more focused on her future matches. At least appologize to all the kids that you are role models to, Serena.... because you have millions.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  43. mathis Kennington

    @christimarie suspended for at least a year? That is ridiculous. Suspended from a major, maybe, lose her prize money, certainly. But suspended for a year from the sport because she did this? Come on. Other players can coke up and not get suspended and NOW because a black woman gets angry you are worried about the image? Give me a break.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  44. kevinb

    Serena shouldn't loose her winnings. let's face it emotions run high in sports and no one is perfect.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  45. Angela Williams

    Really? Serena Williams outburst open court temper tantum is unprecedented?! Someone needs to contact Jimmy O'Connor and John McEnroe, it seems their on court antics was superceded by Serena Williams. I agree the Serena Williams outburst showed extremely bad sportsmanship, but lets no get carry away as if tennis players never show unlike sportsmanship. I pretty sure their will more tennis players that exhibit poor sportsmanship by letting their emotions getting the better side of their professionism.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  46. Brian

    Dick Cheney told a U.S. Senator to go F-*$ himself on the senate floor... he was not punished. Joe Wilson called Obama a liar during a joint session of congress speech... he was not punished. So, why- is it okay for them to do this but not for someone else (where the call was obviously wrong) to not do the same?

    The only thing that needs to occur is for the line judge to stop calling games.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  47. a new beginning

    If she has aspirations to continue in this sport, a punishment befitting a behavior change so it doesn't occurr again should be her gift based on her performance. maybe even a forfeit of prize money.

    I saw McEnroe do worse in his glory days repeatedly, not just once, so let's be sure the punishment mirrors somewhat what McEnroe received or less.

    And to be sure, he wasn't banned from anything Tennis related.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  48. acleba merchantz

    how interesting that serena and kanye west both decided to elaborate the decline of our culture to "jerry springer-ism" on the same weekend. maybe chris brown could help them better understand how to deal with affronts to their self-importance.

    the youth of our country are being presented, more and more frequently, with role models in politics, sports, and the entertainment industry who are the products and symbols of a rapid deterioration of the country to the mores of a poor, uneducated, and violent subculture.

    it's unfathomable how our children have so gravitated to the most undesirable elements of our national embarrassment as their standard-bearers. will they every wake up, or is this simply the undeniable evidence of our imminent and comprehensive cultural deterioration?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  49. Katelyn

    Any athlete at any level understands where she is coming from, she was caught up in the moment, adrenalin pumping, and for a petty call such as a minor foot fault. Serena's personal embarrassment is enough of a punishment. Give her a fine and let her continue as one of the greatest women tennis players ever.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  50. Don Anderson

    This whole accident is racial!! Leave Serena alone!! The Asian line judge was jealous of Serena's success

    September 14, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  51. Jon

    "She has a new book coming out this week" - what a strange coincidence that this tirade should coincide with this event. Nothing like building up a bit of interest to get everyone rushing to the stores to buy your book. Any fine imposed will be recovered tenfold through the gullible public.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  52. Sue

    Serena contrary to what Chistimarie said is not a disgrace to tennis. To S. Thomas, John McEnroe was and is known for being the "Bad Boy of Tennis" and throwing major temper tantrums. Mr. McEnroe was not suspended for a year for his unsportsman like behavior. We are not championship tennis players we have no idea of what it is like to be in the heat of the moment and have a call that tennis pros have said should not have been made at that point in the match. I've heard and seen people react worse when someone cuts you off on a highway.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  53. Mike

    The fine should be donated to the new technology for foot faults calls.

    Hawk-Eye technology has been developed, why has this not been done yet?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  54. Jack

    To Frank Blocker,

    You sound pretty ridiculous with your "she didn't actually threaten" argument...

    Why did you even bring the race card into this??? People like you are the ones that continually stir up strife in our country

    September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  55. Mark

    Really, banned from Tennis entirely!? Bad girls make a lot of money for TV and I'd hate to see the WTA come the conclusion at a later date that they need her back on the circuit to generate revenue. Having said that no one is bigger than the game. Yes there should be a punishment equal to the crime. $250K would send a clear message with a 3 month suspension. That would mean she would lose her #1 ranking etc. The cost to her in advertising dollars would be large and may hurt more than the WTA needs to do. With examples of bad performers in Tennis history and for those to come, yes send a message but don't set the bar so high that future WTA's decisions have to escalate. Really we don't need to over react to this. Punish her and move on.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  56. ELmo

    Whether or NOT she actually foot faulted is totally irrelevant. Judges make mistakes – it's part of the game. McEnroe was the VERY worst and should have been suspended many many times (maybe even thrown out of Tennis for the way he behaved). The SPORT didn't and doesn't have the guts to discipline it's STARS.

    Officials are there to make the call (not always easy) but necessary to keep the game going and arguments from ensuing. All sides agree to abide by the decision of the appointed officials. She should be SUSPENDED – AT THE VERY LEAST.
    ELmo

    September 14, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  57. w. duffy

    There is no excuse for Ms. Williams' behavior. She has hurt herself and now needs to do some damage control as well as seek help. At the post match interview, she did not understand why the official felt threatened by her actions. This breach with reality is a very serious situation and could be a symptom of some deep emotional issues. The sooner she gets into anger management therapy along with a closely followed drug regiment, the better her chance to rejoin the rest of us living in reality. Perhaps some of the behavior learned from her father is now taking over. I would be more concerned with her emotional state than the economic effect her profanity laced outburst will have on her earning power on and off the court. I am rooting for her.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  58. Dee

    After reading a few comments I was shocked to read the word racism. Some people always have an agenda. We all admire Serena's ability, but no matter who displayed such behavior, it should be addressed and Serena should show some remose.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  59. lorena

    Serena did make a mistake reacting the way she did. But in her defense there have been many players that have broken rackets and have never gotten punished. Everyone forgets that John McEnroe, Jimmy Conners used to do the same thing. There are other players that are playing now even at the top of the ranks that have done the same thing. Paying a fine is completely called for but being suspended is going a little over the line.
    Serena is a great player and a role model for many girls. But like any other she is human and is allowed mistakes.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  60. Mark Ramsey, Milwaukee WI

    Sorry, it was the wrong time in the match to make that call. Serena should be forced to apologize to the line judge or pay a 50,000 fine. Then the line judge should be suspended for a year. A new rule should be written. There is no way that a foot fault should put you at championship point. And there is no way that the judge was impartial to do that.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  61. marcus Johnson

    I am a fan of Serena but I think she should be banned from playing todays doubles and banned from a few grand slam tournaments.
    I have seen many tennis players curse out officials but never threaten one with physical harm.... That is going too far in any sport...... I don't give a Fudge how much money someone has...... When you are in the public eye, you have a responsibility to set a good example for kids... That crap what I saw the other night was a disgrace .

    September 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  62. Paul

    What a bunch of crybabies. How many of you have ever played competitive tennis? Emotions run high and an absurd call like that will set off many a top tier athelete.

    If you want to refine tennis, how about we go back to being quiet during the match instead of yelling all the time. That is what has made the sport gauche, not an occassional temper flare.

    And that little whiny official who crept over to cry about it was pathetic.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  63. TAR

    Just another example of how Serena has no class. She should be banned from playing in the doubles final and get no money for this tournament.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  64. Showkat

    This needs to be punished to the full extent. Young girls watching the tennis and aspiring to be tennis stars must have been shocked after this incident. This act was simply unacceptable.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  65. Bobby G

    There is definitely a double standard going on here. Has anyone ever seen Andy Roddick get upset and start cussing out everyone on the court? Line judges and umpires? And yet I've never seen him get as much as a warning. And I watched MANY MANY hours of the US Open this year and It's amazing that I only saw Venus and Serena ever get called for a foot fault. Why is that? This is not the first time that Serena has been targeted at the US Open. Anyone else remember that infamous match she played against Capriati where the "line judges" kept calling out her balls even though replay showed her shots to be in not by millimeters, but by over a foot! And this happened repeatedly!! Where were the outcries for support of Serena? The haters stood silent.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  66. chiu

    We give all the bad behavior excuse "intensity" like police man beat the citizen ever before they go to court. Same bad behavior from the civilized county. Gotta stop these bad behavior!!!!!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  67. Arthur

    Michael, you said "How quickly we forget John McEnroe," but if you read the article you would have seen that we didn't forget him and how his situation differed from this one. Too many people make comments on these blogs without ever even looking at the original story.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  68. Trey

    I think that the line judge should apologize... yeah i said it it seems like it was their mistake... And really her outburst wasn't that bad... I think the whole thing was a mess and Serena is owed an apology as well

    September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  69. Robert B. Kurzweil

    Serena Williams cost herself a chance to win another grand slam tournament. That's what matters. She must deeply regret the harm that she administered to herself. No monetary penalties or suspensions are necessary to demonstrate the folly of her actions. If the lines person had not exercised such bad judgment in calling a foot fault at the climax of a truly hard-fought match, none of this would have happened. Serena and Kim Clisters should have decided the outcome with their rackets. No wonder Serena became unglued. This was not the first time that third persons influenced the outcome of her matches. What she did was wrong but any more punishment is "piling on."

    September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  70. B

    That linesman should be investigated. Find out if she has personal feelings toward the match, pro-Kim or anti-Serena. Why would you make such a call! The commentators were even puzzled, looked at the tape, and didn't see a foot fault. Do they make sure that officials aren't betting on events? Do they make sure they are impartial? I'm sure today she's busily deleting all her Facebook comments about how much she hates Serena.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  71. SG

    Threats and intimidation warrant suspension...and to you "McEnroe did it" lamenters out there..he did and was punished...he was once thrown out of a tournament in Austalia even before he started playing...

    September 14, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  72. Christine

    Is anyone paying attention? There was NO foot fault!! Maybe the lineswoman should get a pair of glasses! Of course Serena was angry. It was a crucial call and no review. The only mistake she made was addressing the idiot on the line and not dealing with the chair direct for an overturn. Give her a break.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  73. diogenes

    Nonsense!
    One of the best behaved athl;etes in the world has a bad day and all these goons are calling for her head. The line judge obviously did not do anything illegal – thats the way with it is with oppression. Laws are made, and interpreted to punish the unwanted.
    DO I sound reasonable?
    Then I'm about to be stupid.
    The line judge was being anti-black.
    Period.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  74. TennisNut

    There's one other thing at play here which no one has mentioned, and it has to do with the first violation she committed in the first set. Serena smashed her racquet into the court and was cited for racquet abuse. Earlier the same day, on the same court, Gonzalez flung his racquet on the court, nearly hitting a ball boy and smashing his racquet. No citation was made. In fact, the commentators made jokes about it. Why was Serena cited when Gonzalez was not? That inconsistent rule-enforcing may have set this entire thing into motion. That is not so say her behavior at the end of the set is defensible. It is not. However, if you're going to cite players for racquet abuse, cite them all, every time.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  75. Marcella

    Apparently Serena has had enough! since it is noted the Williams sisters has gotten an awful lot of foot faults!!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  76. DMan

    So, I guess John McEnroe never ever threatened or assailed an umpire huh? I amazed at the scrutiny these two sisters get!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  77. Burnard

    My god what IS the big deal. John McEnroe, use to do it all the time. This is surely not unprecedented. JEEZE

    September 14, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  78. PaleRider

    Classless, but not surprising

    September 14, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  79. Stacy P

    Your guest this morning – Mr. Wertheim lost all creditability with me when he said, he do not ever recall John McEnroe ever acting or approaching an official in a threatening way! That idiot S.I. writer either just starting writing about tennis, or never really saw McEnroe in his prime!
    Please interview guest that can give a non-bias view of this incident. It would have been nice to hear a discussion on whether there is a double standard, not only to women vs men but black women/ persons in sports.

    Everyone is so easily willing to wave off the bad call but takes Serena actions as unacceptable. Maybe for her actions banning her from the game of tennis might be the only acceptable punishment for some of you people who have a problem with the Williams sisters to begin with. Black President or not, racism will never end in the USA.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  80. gene kannee

    I thought that more foot faults were called on the sisters than any other player. I watched on the net, pictures clearer, and you could call a foot fault at least 10 times during any match. Tennis tournaments have to make a clear distiction of what constitues a foot fault.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  81. Jody Reno Nevada

    These athletes reach a point that they truly believe they can do anything without consequences. That needs to be dealt with head on. Serena should be fined and removed from any Grand Slam opportunity. Baseball players that demonstrate similar hostile behavior should be fined and banned from World Series play. Football players, same same.
    When you get too big for your pants and start showing your ass like Serena did, OUTTA THERE! THIS BEHAVIOR SHOULD NEVER BE REWARDED. NEVER!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  82. Dawn

    I agree a suspension is not called for in this situation, this was not typical Serena behavior. However, I also think that the statement Serena put out is inadequate, she really needs to apoligize for her actions and comments.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  83. Kevin

    What the difference between Serena's responce to the call and other player's missbehavior in the past? Serena should have gone directly to the head judge, not a side judge. I'm a tennis player and there is nothing more annoying than being called for a foot fault, but this is the biggest stage in tennis. And PLEASE do not make this a race issue. No on has mentioned that this match was being played at AUTHOR ASHE STADIUM!!! He is one of the greatest contributors to the game. I wonder how he would feel about how Serena acted?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  84. Independent Thinker

    My belief is that if the tennis powers that be continues to punish Serena Williams for more money for such an infraction, then that will be totally out of line. John McEnroe had a number of outburst that resulted in fines and that was it, he never continued to be fined or be sanctioned as they would like and try to do to Serena. The line judge made a shakey call on the 'foot foul', if the camera footage was inconclusive, what makes you think the judge or any person(s) call no be inconclusive as well. That is why the camera angle was shown and too me it was inconclusive, RIGHT?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  85. flensr

    Only someone who doesn't compete would think that Serena hasn't already been punished enough... She already lost the game and the tournament because of one sentence she didn't mean, following a questionable call, that was said in the heat of battle... Who cares about fines, she was effectively booted from competiting for the win. That means EVERYTHING to a competitor.

    Why should a 2 second outburst that didn't actually harm anything or anyone merit more punishment than costing her a game she spent so much time preparing for? The game was taken from her for her outburst, that should be plenty. Levy whatever fine is necessary to make the non-competitors out there happy because they simply have no clue what having a game like that taken away for a rules infraction, but she's already been punished in the most appropriate way for a competitor of her nature.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  86. Judith Wheeler

    I've been watching tennis for 40 years and I have definitely seen comperable outbursts, although not from a woman. I feel that Serena has been singled out for some reason. It was match point and it didn't appear to be a definite foot fault. Yes, she over reacted, but it was in the heat of the moment and no worse than many of the outbursts exhibited by male players in years past.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  87. Tim

    It was the wrong call at the wrong time. You don't make that call at that stage of the game. If it happened to me, I would have shoved the racquet not the ball up the linesperson's garment.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  88. Priscilla

    Serena should be suspended from the tournament and not be allowed to play doubles today with her sister, and any prize money should be taken back. A Book? What a joke! She should also not be allowed to advertise her book on TV at this time until a complete apology is given.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  89. Tiffany

    Too much money.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  90. Matthew

    The Williams sisters get called for an awful lot of footfaults. Let's put up the foot-cam, sponsored by Reebok or Adidas or whomever, and make that challengeable - everything else already is.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  91. S. Thomas

    She should be suspended from the sport permanently. This is certainly not the first incident with her, and it won't be the last. She gets it, she just doesn't care.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  92. Piet Opperman

    In the end, whether the line judge was right or wrong is irrelevant. For a player to physically and verbally threaten an official in any sport is disgusting and cannot be excused or talked away. I am surprised that it is even up for debate. In any other sport she would have been red-carded automatically without question.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  93. Monique Lowes

    I feel like, since Joe Wilson , disrespected the President and was'nt punished for his action ,everyone feel like it's o.k. to say anything anywhere to anybody and apologize and it's o.k. (Serena Williams) (Kanye West)!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  94. Frank Blocker

    Unprecedented? Are you KIDDING me? Or do you guys only watch the big matches? CBS did an entire collage of players breaking their rackets–gee, it was sooo cute. Or at least CBS thought so...but now that the big manly black girl did it, it's awful.

    Yes, she deserves some punishment or make some restitution, her behavior was ATROCIOUS – but you people have GOT to come out of the closet with your racism. There are far, far worse offenders out there.

    Serena did NOT threaten...she said I would LIKE TO shove the ball down your throat....sorry, folks, but that's not a threat. It really isn't. She just said what she wanted to do, not that she was going to do it...and I know most Americans have no idea what free speech is, but this is an example. As for the line judges at the Open ... notoriously the worst of all Slams.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  95. Michael

    How quickly we forget John McEnroe.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  96. Chuck

    Her conduct should not be tolerated. The fines are a pittance when you make the money Ms. Williams makes by playing tennis!

    September 14, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  97. mr sizemore

    She should be BANNED indefinitely. The officials can NOT let this go. Anyone who thinks she's not behaved like this before is totally blind.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  98. informed

    I agree with the commentators i heard during the match. The Line Judge over-officiated. It was a very heated moment and the judge knew that. What Serena said may have been unprecedented for Serena, but that's not uncommon, even in tennis. Serena had a bad day. Not unusual. Her actions were out of character for her. She plays with intensity on the court and when you're in a match like that, it's hard to change your intensity when your caubht up in the moment. Off the court Serena is poised and approachable pretty much.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  99. Sam

    Civility, or lack thereof in American society in recent weeks, has been on display. First it was Joe Wilson and now Serena and then Kanye on MTV Awards...What's happening around us? Have we reached so low that we can't even tolerate our fellow Americans? How are we going to tolerate the rest of the world, that doesn't agree with us?

    September 14, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  100. Christimarie

    Serena should be suspended for at least a year and she should not be allowed to play the doubles match today. She is a disgrace and I did not feel that she displayed any remorse at all in the statements she made. Tennis does not need this kind of image.

    September 14, 2009 at 11:20 am |
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