2009 US Open: Bizarre ending to Serena Williams’ title defense at Open
Who could imagine that the US Open semifinal match between Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters would end like that???
Serena Williams was facing a match point thanks to a foot fault, she walked toward the line judge, screaming, cursing and shaking a ball in the official’s direction, threatening to “shove it down” her throat, and because of this she was penalized a point for unsportsmanlike conduct ending the encounter 6-4, 7-5 in favor of Kim Clijsters.
With Williams serving at 5-6, 15-30 in the second set, she faulted on her first serve. On the second serve, a line judge called a foot fault, making it a double-fault-a call rarely, if ever, seen at that stage of any match, let alone the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament.
That made the score 15-40, putting Clijsters one point from victory.
Instead of stepping to the baseline to serve again, Williams went over and shouted and cursed at the line judge, pointing at her and thrusting the ball toward her.
“If I could, I would take this … ball and shove it down your … throat,” Williams said.
She continued yelling at the line judge, and went back over, shaking her racket in the official’s direction.
Asked in her postmatch news conference what she said to the line judge, Williams wouldn’t say, replying, “What did I say? You didn’t hear?”
“I’ve never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don’t know why she would have felt threatened,” Williams said with a smile.
The line judge went over to the chair umpire, and tournament referee Brian Earley joined in the conversation. With the crowd booing Williams then went over and said to the line judge: “Sorry, but there are a lot of people who’ve said way worse.” Then the line judge said something to the chair umpire, and Williams responded, “I didn’t say I would kill you. Are you serious? I didn’t say that.” The line judge replied by shaking her head and saying, “Yes.”
Williams already had been give a code violation warning when she broke her racket after losing the first set. So the chair umpire now awarded a penalty point to Clijsters, ending the match.
“She was called for a foot fault, and a point later, she said something to a line umpire, and it was reported to the chair, and that resulted in a point penalty,” Earley explained. “And it just happened that point penalty was match point. It was a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
When the ruling was announced, Williams walked around the net to the other end of the court to shake hands with a stunned Clijsters, who did not appear to understand what had happened.
“I used to have a real temper, and I’ve gotten a lot better,” Williams said later. “So I know you don’t believe me, but I used to be worse. Yes, yes, indeed.”
So sad that Serena Williams had to leave the US Open in such circumstances