For her latest United States Open outburst, Serena Williams received a $2,000 fine from the tournament referee Brian Earley on Monday. The fine accounted for about 14-hundredths of a percent of her $1.4 million payday the night before.
Williams collected $900,000 on Sunday for her runner-up finish to Samantha Stosur in women's singles. She also earned $500,000 for her first-place finish in the U.S. Open Series standings, which include other hardcourt events before the Open.
Earley, in a statement, said the fine was "consistent with similar offenses at Grand Slam events." The statement also noted that Bill Babcock, the Grand Slam committee director, conducted an independent review, which determined that Williams's conduct, "while verbally abusive, does not rise to the level of a major offense under the Grand Slam Code of Conduct."
That last piece of review was of particular importance. It means Williams will not face additional discipline - either suspension from a future Grand Slam tournament, or an additional fine - for another "major offense" while she was serving a probationary period at Grand Slams.
Williams landed on Grand Slam probation for a similar confrontation at the United States Open in 2009. In that match, a semifinal against Kim Clijsters, Williams threatened a line judge who whistled her for a foot fault just before match point. Her tirade included profanity, which, in combination with an earlier behavior warning, cost Williams a point and, because of its timing, the match. For that incident, Williams was fined $82,500.
Her fine Monday seemed like pocket change in comparison, even if the outburst appeared similar to what happened in 2009. Sunday's incident took place in the first game of the second set.
Facing break point at 30-40, Williams sent an apparent forehand winner to Stosur's backhand side. "Come on!" Williams screamed as Stosur stabbed at the ball, making contact.
The contact brought into play the hindrance rule. Under the rule, if the distraction is unintentional, like a hat blowing off a player's head, or a scream from a bee sting, the point is replayed. If the action is deliberate, as in this case, the point is awarded to the opponent.
The chair umpire, Eva Asderaki, was slow to inform the crowd that Stosur had been awarded the point, and the game, and originally the scoreboard flashed 40-40. Williams later said that she did not remember exactly what happened and that she misunderstood the rule.
Regardless, she berated Asderaki on multiple occasions, all captured by television cameras. The lowlights included:
"If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way. You're out of control. You're a hater and you're unattractive inside."
"Code violation for this? I expressed who I am. We're in America last time I checked."
"I hate you."
On Monday, on ESPN's "SportsCenter," the analyst Chris Evert said Williams's fine felt like a "slap on the wrist." She noted that Williams had yet to apologize. Nor did Williams shake Asderaki's hand after the match, which she lost, 6-2, 6-3.
"It's like dinner for Serena Williams," Evert continued. "When I saw the comments she made, my first impression was just stunned. I was so surprised how disrespectful and rude she was. The umpire did not deserve that treatment. She was just doing her job. She made the right call."
Not all analysts agreed with that sentiment. ESPN's Pam Shriver, in a telephone interview, said she called a match between Marion Bartoli and Christina McHale earlier in the Open in which the same penalty was called. Given the uproar in women's tennis about all the noise some players make on every shot, Shriver said the hindrance penalties against Bartoli and Williams were the only two she could recall in recent memory.
Shriver noted that in this instance Williams did not use profanity, and Shriver said that perhaps Williams felt pressure playing on Sept. 11, in New York, in front of an American crowd.
"It wasn't anything like what happened two years ago," Shriver said. "Sure, it was obnoxious and whatever. But I don't think it was horrific. I don't think it's a pattern."
Regardless, Williams's latest outburst overshadowed Stosur's first Grand Slam victory. Stosur met with a small group of reporters in Midtown Manhattan on Monday afternoon. She said the incident "shook me a little bit."
She added, "I don't know if I lost my way, but she definitely got that anger, or whatever it was, behind her, and she belted some of those balls, and they were going in."
Stosur said her holding serve for 2-2 was the turning point in her victory.
She spent Monday morning in a whirlwind, appearing on talk shows and posing for photographs in Times Square, all on roughly an hour and a half of sleep.
She said her phone received some 150 e-mails and 120 text messages from family, friends and even schoolteachers back home.
The last 24 hours were so overwhelming, Stosur could not remember what time her flight left Thursday, or which city she planned to fly to.