FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – A few years ago, it seemed like Serena Williams was more concerned about her social life, fashion, and her brand name, rather than her play on the court. And it got so bad in 2006, she was unseeded in the US Open, because her ranking was so low.
Yet, Serena learned something about herself. She liked to win and as long as she is successful on the court, the other things off of it would come much, much easier.
So in 2007, Williams rejuvenated herself, winning the Australian Open and impressive runs in the other three Grand Slams, all resulting in Quarterfinal losses to Justine Henin.
More importantly, though, the diva went away. Williams was much more pleasant to deal with, even poking fun at herself from time to time.
Last night, though, the diva returned…big time. And Serena’s actions not only cost her a repeat at the Open Title, but also her reputation is going to take a hit.
For those of you who didn’t see, Williams was down a set in the second to Kim Clijsters with the score 5-6, 15-30 in the game. The lineswoman, who was not identified by the USTA, called a foot fault on Serena’s second serve, causing a double fault and the score to go to a match point for Clijsters.
Already warned after she smashed her racquet after losing the first set, Williams took a tirade at the lineswoman, threatening to shove a few tennis balls down her throat in a profanity laced tirade.
The lineswomen then went over to chair umpire Louise Engzell and tournament umpire Brian Earley to discuss the situation. She told them that Williams threatened to killer her, which Serena clearly denied. Sure, she didn’t. Serena is just promoting a new tennis ball diet.
Anyway, because it was her second violation, a violation point was awarded to Clijsters.
Game. Set. Match.
Afterwards, Williams was unapologetic about the situation.
“Well, how many people yell at linespeople?,” she said. “So I think, you know, if you look at –I don’t know. All the people that, you know, kind of yell at linespeople, I think it’s –kind of comes sometimes. Players, athletes get frustrated. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that happen.”
Frankly, this diva routine needs to stop. It’s one thing to lose your temper. I’ve done it. I am sure you have as well. It’s another to think it’s alright to treat people that way. The WTA needs to fine and possibly suspend Williams for her actions.
The USTA has done a great job making tennis the fastest growing sport in the county. This grass roots effort produced players like Melanie Oudin and Carly Gullickson, who are young kids making their mark at this year’s Open.
But Serena is the lead horse here and her actions will be copied by young girls everywhere. If she gets away with abusing a linesperson, then other players will do the same. It will create a vicious cycle which will haunt the sport of tennis.
Because of her actions, Serena already cost herself $450,000 by losing the match. She needs to pay more, unless we see some kind of contrition soon. Williams still has a chance to do it at this Open, because she is playing in the doubles final with her sister Venus.
She needs to call a press conference and read a statement saying how she was wrong, sorry to the lineswoman, and she will be making a donation to the lineswoman’s favorite charity.
Otherwise the WTA needs to step in and do something. If they don’t make an example of Serena, the WTA will once again prove that it’s an empty authority that will let its stars run wild.