Clijsters Wins on Penalty Assessed on Williams
Serena Williams became unhinged in a shocking display of vitriol and profanity toward a line judge at the most inopportune time Saturday night - right before match point for Kim Clijsters in the semifinals of the United States Open.
In a matter of confusing minutes, Williams turned what had been a scintillating women's match into an ugly and improbable spectacle that gave Clijsters, an unseeded wild-card entry making a joyful return to Grand Slam tennis, a 6-4, 7-5 victory she could not even celebrate.
Clijsters, a 26-year-old from Belgium who is the mother of a toddler, had frustrated and dominated Williams all night. After Clijsters won the first set, Williams slammed her racket to the court twice, mangling the frame in disgust. She walked to her chair, whacking the net with her racket on the way, and earned a warning for racket abuse.
Clijsters stayed composed. She had a 6-5 lead in the second set, and Williams was serving to send the set into a tiebreaker. At 15-30, a lineswoman called Williams for a foot fault on her second serve. Williams argued angrily, then walked back to the baseline. But she could not let it rest. She approached the judge and appeared to threaten her, shaking a ball in her face, according to reporters courtside and television replays.
The chair umpire, Louise Engzell of Sweden, asked the lineswoman to approach and explain what happened. Engzell then assessed Williams a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, with Brian Earley, the tournament referee, in agreement.
But Williams had no point to give - the penalty ended the match, and the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, which was only about half-full after two days of rain delays, was stunned. So, too, was Clijsters, who had not even played in the Open since she won it in 2005. Suddenly, and strangely, she found herself in the final once again.
Clijsters will play ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who romped over Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, 6-3, 6-3, in the other women's semifinal, which was played simultaneously on Louis Armstrong Stadium before barely 300 fans.
But in an ignominious night for women's tennis and the Open, few might remember the undercard.
"It's just unfortunate that a battle like that has to end like that," Clijsters said.
Until the fateful point that decided the match, the action was worthy of a final, rewarding the fans after rain had ravaged the schedule.
After the match, Williams was eerily composed. She did not apologize for her actions, nor would she disclose what she had said to the lineswoman, whose name was not released by the United States Tennis Association.
"I don't think it's necessary for me to speak about that," Williams said. "I've let it go."
The line judge appeared to comment to the chair umpire on court that she felt threatened, although what she said was not audible. In a hastily called conference on the court with the chair umpire and Earley, Williams responded in an incredulous voice. �I didn�t say I would kill you,� she said, in audio that was picked up by CBS�s on-court microphone. �Are you serious? I didn�t say that.�
Later, Williams said: �I�ve never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don�t know why she would have felt threatened. No, I didn�t threaten. I don�t remember any more, to be honest. I was in the moment.�
Reporters who were courtside said that Williams approached the line judge and they heard Williams shout profanity at her. Holding a ball, Williams said to the lineswoman that �you don�t know me,� appearing to inject it with profanity. Then Williams added that the linewoman was lucky that Williams was not, according to The Miami Herald, �shoving this ball down your throat.�
In a statement after the match, Earley explained the penalty procedure and why the match ended without the chair umpire declaring Clijsters the winner. He said that at 15-30: �Williams was called for a foot fault on her second serve, making the score 15-40. She then yelled something at the line umpire, who reported it to the chair umpire. Based on the report, Miss Williams was assessed a code violation, point penalty, for unsportsmanlike conduct.�
Earley said in an interview after the match that �it just happened that point penalty was match point.�
When Williams went over to Clijsters�s side of the court to shake her hand, she said it was Clijsters who told her, �I�m sorry.� Williams said, �I was like, �this isn�t your fault.� �
Clijsters said she did not �even want to be involved� in the incident, standing far back behind the baseline. �I was just so surprised and shocked all of a sudden to see Serena walking over to me,� she said later. �To get a point penalty at the time, it�s unfortunate. But there are rules.�
This was the second time in their careers that Williams and Clijsters had been involved in a controversial match. Williams met Clijsters in the 2001 final of a tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. The crowd booed Williams, apparently in response to what had transpired in the semifinal; Venus Williams had defaulted because of an injury right before the sisters were to go on court. Williams has said that she heard some fans yell racial epithets.
Williams won that match in three sets. But she and her sister Venus have not played in Indian Wells since.
Saturday night, Clijsters did not realize the connection until she was unwinding after the match. �You kind of wonder what is it with all our matches,� she said. �Then again, it�s a completely different situation.�
Clijsters came into the match with a 1-7 record against Williams, who was seeking her third Grand Slam championship this season. Clijsters was playing in only her 13th match since returning to the WTA Tour in Cincinnati three weeks ago after retiring two and a half years ago.
"You try to bring your best tennis, but no, you don't expect things to be going this well this soon," Clijsters said.
�The normal feelings of winning the match weren�t quite there,� Clijsters said. �But after it had sunk in a little bit, it becomes easier to understand and kind of not celebrate, but at least have a little bit of joy after a match like that.�
Williams�s camp was not in an understanding mood after the match. Her father and coach, Richard, was talking to the N.B.A. star Kevin Garnett outside the stadium when reporters approached him. �Just get out of my face,� he said.
Oracene Price, Williams�s mother and her coach, called the ending �startling� and defended her youngest daughter by saying, �No, I think she should speak up for what is right.�
As Williams explained to reporters after the match: �I used to have a real temper � and I�ve gotten a lot better. I know you don�t believe me, I used to be worse.�
She exhibited that temper earlier this year, in fact, when she had a similar kind of outburst in the third round of the French Open against Mar�a Jos� Mart�nez S�nchez.
Williams accused Mart�nez S�nchez of cheating and threatened on the court that she would make her pay for it in the locker room, talk that was picked up on television.
Williams was serving in the first set and was down a break point. She had run down a drop shot and happened to hit Mart�nez S�nchez, racing to the net, with a backhand.
Tennis rules dictate that when a player is hit by the ball, that player loses the point. But the umpire Emmanuel Joseph did not see it, and Mart�nez S�nchez did not volunteer that she was hit. She was awarded the game.
�I�m going to get you in the locker room for that; you don�t know me,� Williams said.
She later said of Mart�nez S�nchez to Joseph, �She better not come to the net again.�
Williams won that match, but was ousted in the quarterfinals. Coming into this U.S. Open, ranked No. 2 in the world, Williams was seeking her 12th Grand Slam title.
Instead, Clijsters, a former No. 1 who has just the 2005 Open title on her Grand Slam r�sum�, will be try to become the first mother to win a title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the 1980 Wimbledon championship.
Improbable? Perhaps. But no one expected the scene on this night, either.
(Formatting is screwed up; too lazy to fix it. Too may apostrophes to fix.)
I have no idea whether Serena actually foot-faulted, but assuming she did - it's against the rules. Doesn't matter whether it's a foot fault on a normal point or a foot fault on 15-30, 5-6, second set, when the player is down a set. A foot fault is a foot fault. And if there was a foot fault, the lines person has to call it out.
I don't understand players who go all batshit insane when they get called out for foot faults on crucial points. I mean, I understand in that sense, that it's a crucial point; but would they go batshit insane at the linesman who calls a second serve out on match point? Not really, right? Of course, you can't challenge a foot fault but you can challenge an out call on the serve (unless the court you're playing at has no Hawkeye, in which case you can only hope the umpire was paying attention); but still, a foot fault doesn't become proper just because it's match point.
In any case, if Serena Williams was threatening me with a tennis ball and yelling at me about how she'd like to shove it down my throat, I'd be fucking scared shitless. I'd take back the foot fault call. I'd tell the umpire I wasn't really paying attention, and then I'd remove myself from the match.
She's FUCKING SCARY.
But then, oh my god, I'm so happy she lost. YESSSSSSSSS. Her attitude stinks. STINKS.
So going to be up all night watching tennis later. Two men's semi-finals and the women's final.
I like Caroline, but I hope Kim wins. I'm sure she's gonna win; way more experienced than Caroline, and from what little I've seen, much better player too.
Okay, if I'm too tired after Roger, I'm just gonna sleep. But I MUST watch both the SFs. Can't wait to see Nadal lose to Del Pot.
Played tennis this afternoon at two under the hot sun. I had lunch at one. Thirty minutes into the game my stomach felt all hot and bloated. The sun didn't come out in full force until a while later, so it wasn't that bad at first. But when the sun finally came out, I felt like I wanted to die.
Oh my gad.
I hit one brilliant forehand though.
But yeah it was ONE good forehand. Boo hiss.
Okay this is a shit entry. I'm too tired to write anymore.