After being the last player standing without dropping a set, Serena Williams entered last night’s US Open finals as the favorite. However, after sustaining little rest following her late evening semi-finals match against Caroline Wozniacki and allowing her emotions to get the best of her, Serena lost in the same manner she won her previous matches…in straight sets.
Serena had faced her Australian opponent Samantha Stosur. While Serena won the Rogers Cup last month, Stosur did beat Williams at the French Open. Stosur began the match appearing rested and quick-footed, but Serena (who had reportedly just made it back to her hotel room well after 1am after her semi-finals win) appeared sluggish and unfocused.
It was clear that Serena was soon allowing her emotions to get the best of her when they erupted during a point dispute. Well within the first match, Serena sent a powerful backhand shot which she knew would surely count as a much needed point. Overcome by emotion, Serena yelled “Come on”, while the ball was still in play. However, it is against the rules to yell or make any distracting gestures towards ones opponent while the ball is still in play. This then prompted the chair umpire Eva Asderaki to instead award the point to Stosur noting that Serena’s infraction was a clear rule violation.
Next, Serena released a tirade reminiscent of her 2009 debacle where she was docked a penalty point which essentially handed the match to her opponent Kim Clijsters by default. While Williams was seated, she began berating Asderaki with comments such as these;
“If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you’re out of control. You’re totally out of control. You’re a hater, and that’s unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow, what a loser.”
Unfortunately, this only caused Williams to completely loose focus as she lost to Stosur in straight sets.
Although Serena was gracious to her opponent, shaking her hand, laughing and exchanging playful remarks during the award ceremony; Williams did skip the customary handshake to the umpire.
It appears now that these actions may land Serena in further hot water as the WTA (World Tennis Association) is considering if Williams deserves harsher punishment for her behavior.
According to Reuters.com, The WTA recently released the following statement.
“Any impact this code violation might have on Serena Williams’ grand slam probation would require the incident being ruled a major event. That determination will be made by the grand slam committee director.”
The WTA has a very challenging task at hand. Serena Williams is a constant fan favorite who, along with her sister Venus, has helped in attracting enormous amounts of fan viewership, sponsorships, and countless other revenue opportunities which were minimal without the sister’s participation.
Serena has come back from a year off (something few female tennis players ever do), a blood clot scare, and an almost career ending foot injury which caused her to be absent from the sport for a significant amount of time. Was Serena wrong in her display? Yes. But is she being treated fairly and consistently with other players who behave similarly? Perhaps not. What do you think?