Williams swears she'll learn from tirade
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 harsh and it incensed the American second seed, who 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.
The American's subsequent expletive-laced tirade resulted in a point penalty – and the end of the match. "I swear to God I'm... going to take this... ball and shove it down your... throat, you hear that? I swear to God," Williams said. After the line-judge reported Williams to the umpire for verbal abuse, Williams added: "I never said I would kill you, are you serious?"
Last night, Williams was fined $10,000 by US Open officials for "unsportsmanlike conduct" – the maximum amount permissible, plus a further $500 for "racquet abuse".
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 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."
Asked whether the 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." She added: "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 her leaving the court in a frustrated mood. 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. I play by the rules. That's what it was."
The ending of the match marred Clijsters' well-earned victory. "It's unfortunate that a match that I was playing so well at had to end that way," said Clijsters. "I am a little confused about what happened out there, just because I was so focused. I was trying to win that last point. Things ended a little bit different (from what] I expected."
Clijsters, the first mother to reach a grand slam final since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980, missed out on the thrill of winning match point. "When you play that last point, whether it is a winner or by mistake from your opponent, it's a great feeling to have," said Clijsters. "So, yeah, the normal feelings of winning a match weren't quite there."
Williams, the 2009 Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, said she could not believe her misfortune. "All year I've never been foot faulted, and then suddenly in this tournament they keep calling foot faults," Williams said. "I said something that I guess they gave me a point penalty for. Unfortunately it was on match point."
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat error-prone Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-3 to advance to the final against Clijsters. Ninth-seeded Wozniacki, who became the first Danish woman to reach a grand slam singles final, covered her face as tears came to her eyes at the end of the 96-minute match at a virtually deserted Louis Armstrong Stadium. Wozniacki won the battle of 19-year-olds by trading groundstrokes against big-hitting Wickmayer and waiting for her opponent to make mistakes. In a match delayed more than seven hours because of wet conditions, unseeded Wickmayer made 40 unforced errors, mainly from her booming forehand, against just 14 for the Dane. Because of the backlog in the schedule on the closing weekend at Flushing Meadows, their semi-final was played at the same time as Clijsters and Williams.
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