Serena Williams insists she can learn from her mistakes after a row with a lineswoman sent her crashing out of the US Open.
Kim Clijsters moved into the women’s final in controversial circumstances as defending champion Williams picked up a point penalty for a second code violation on match point against her.
Clijsters had been a set and 6-5 up when Williams was foot-faulted on a second serve to hand the Belgian wild card and 2005 champion match point.
Replays indicated the call had been a harsh one and it certainly incensed the American second seed, who quickly moved towards the lineswoman, pointing, ball in hand while she unleashed a verbal tirade and then waved her racquet angrily at the official, who was then beckoned by chair umpire Louise Engzell to explain what had been said.
Williams had picked up a first code violation for smashing her racquet at the end of the first set and this time tournament referee Brian Earley was called to the chair and soon handed Williams a second code violation.
The resultant point penalty handed victory to a bemused Clijsters, 6-4 7-5.
Williams said: “I think that I’ll learn that it pays to always play your best and always be your best and always act your best no matter what.
“And I think that I’m young and I feel like in life everyone has to have experience that they take and that they learn from, and I think that’s great that I have an opportunity to still be physically fit to go several more years and learn from the past.
“I like to learn from the past, live in the present, and not make the same mistakes in the future.”
It was unclear what Williams had said to the lineswoman after the foot fault, and she denied threatening to kill her in a discussion involving the umpire and tournament referee Brian Earley, before realising that was not what she was being accused of.
Asked whether the courtside official deserved an apology, Williams replied: “An apology for?”
When pressed, she added: “From me? How many people yell at linespeople? Players, athletes get frustrated. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that happen.”
The American explained: “I used to have a real temper, and I’ve got a lot better. So I know you don’t believe me, but I used to be worse. Yes, yes, indeed.”
It was a composed Williams who spoke in her post-match interview, despite leaving the court in a clearly frustrated state of mind.
And she insisted it never crossed her mind to ask for the point penalty to be overturned.
“I think I could have played better, and I actually feel like I can go home and I can actually do better, which I’m really excited about,” she said.
“There’s someone out there that makes me want to go home and makes me want to work out and makes me want to run and do better.
“I can’t wait to do that. I’m not the beggar, like: ’Please, please, let me have another chance’, because it was the rules, and I play by the rules. If I get hit, I say I got hit, you know. I play by the rules. That’s what it was.”