Serena Williams will discover today whether her latest run-in with officialdom will lead to more than just a few negative headlines.
Two years after her infamous verbal attack on a lineswoman cost her a point penalty and her US Open semi-final against Kim Clijsters, the American was back in the limelight for all the wrong reasons at Flushing Meadows.
Williams was being outplayed by Samantha Stosur in only the Australian’s second grand slam final and had already lost the first set.
She was battling to hang onto her serve at the start of the second and thought she had saved a second break point when she let out a huge cry of ’come on’.
But the ball had not yet reached Stosur and, under grand slam rules, a deliberate hindrance, such as an intentional shout during a point, sees the perpetrator lose the point.
A furious Williams harangued umpire Eva Asderaki and then continued to insult the official at the next change of ends, calling her “out of control”, a “hater” and “unattractive inside”.
The American, who eventually lost 6-2 6-3, was given a hefty fine for her 2009 offence and was still playing under a suspended ban, which could see her barred from the 2012 US Open for another major offence.
She was only given a code violation for today’s outburst so it is unlikely a ban would be enforced, but the United States Tennis Association will decide today whether to fine her.
A statement from the organisers also added: “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.”
Williams, who did not shake Asderaki’s hand after the match, refused to apologise and was unwilling to discuss the incident, saying only: “I don’t even remember what I said.
“It was just so intense out there. It’s the final for me. I guess I’ll see it on YouTube. I don’t know. I was just in the zone. I think everyone when they play kind of ’zones out’.”
While the match will inevitably be remembered for Williams’ conduct, what cannot be overstated is just how well Stosur played on her first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium to win her maiden grand slam title.
The 27-year-old, the first Australian woman to win a grand slam title since Evonne Goolagong in 1980, said: “I’m still kind of speechless. I can’t actually believe I won this tournament.
“I’ve played matches where I feel like I can’t miss a ball, and it’s fantastic, but to do it under these circumstances in this kind of final against a player like Serena, for sure I’m going to think it’s one of the best days of my career.”