x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dilemma over Serena rant at the US Open

A ban for the American would mean another absence of the best player in women's game currently, and that will be bad for business.

Already struggling in the shadows of a men's game enjoying a golden era, women's tennis faces a dilemma after another high-profile rant from Serena Williams.

For the second time in two years, the American three-time champion blew a fuse at the US Open, launching a tirade at chair umpire Eva Asderakia after being docked a point for yelling "Come on!" during a rally in the final against Australia's Samantha Stosur.

While the language was less abusive than two years ago, when Williams threatened bodily harm to a female line judge in the semi-final against Kim Clijsters, Saturday's remarks could spell more trouble.

Her 2009 rant, when she was penalised that effectively handed the match to Clijsters by default, led to her being fined US$82,500 (Dh303,022), and put on "probation" for two years, with the threat that she could be suspended for any repeat performance.

"Any impact this code violation might have on Serena Williams's grand slam probation would require the incident being ruled a major event," a United States Tennis Association statement said. "That determination will be made by the grand slam committee director."

The evidence, heard by viewers all over the world, was pretty damning. After an initial blast at Asderakia, Williams went back with a vengeance at the next changeover during her 6-2, 6-3 defeat. "If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you're out of control," Williams said in her chair.

"You're totally out of control. You're a hater, unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow, what a loser. Give me a code violation because I expressed my emotion? We're in America, last time I checked. Really, don't even look at me, don't look my way."

Williams showed no contrition after the match, although she was gracious in defeat, and chatted amiably with her opponent.

The authorities would appear to be perfectly within their rights to punish the 13-time grand champion. However, they know Serena's return in June has been an enormous boost for a women's game struggling for a figurehead.

Her long absence from the sport left a huge void, and any ban could be bad for business.