The ending to the Serena Williams/Kim Clijsters match at the U.S. Open Saturday night was certainly a strange one. Down 5-6 and 15-30 in the second set, Serena faulted and then was called for a foot fault on her second serve. The foot fault gave Clijsters the point, making it 15-40 and double match point. Since the foot fault was so ill-timed, Serena Williams went off on the line judge who called the fault. The tirade was apparently so harsh that the chair judge docked Williams a point, thereby giving Clijsters the match. Wow. Check out the video of Serena Williams’ tirade:
Now this wasn’t an isolated incident in the match — Serena lost her temper after losing the first set and she smashed her racket, receiving a code violation warning in the process. Even though Serena was in the wrong in that situation, she also clearly foot faulted on that serve but was never called. To me there’s no doubt that both parties were in the wrong here. Serena was obviously high strung throughout the match, upset she was losing, and displayed poor sportsmanship. But Serena (as well as many others) was foot faulting most of the match and how often was she called for it? Calling it in that situation is extremely ticky-tacky. It’s like in football — half the time the defense lines up offsides but they never get flagged. Imagine that being called on a 4th a 1 to decide the game.
As far as Serena’s behavior, it was totally inappropriate and she really crossed the line with the ref, but didn’t tennis let Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe get away with berating refs for years? Heck, don’t they celebrate them for it now? Seems somewhat hypocritical to me. Both the judge and Serena were out of line in this one. Also, here’s the broken racket video: