Tennis: Williams apologizes for ’inappropriate outburst’
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer
NEW YORK — Serena Williams apologized Monday for what she called her “inappropriate outburst” during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open.
Williams was short on contrition in the postmatch news conference after her profanity-laced, finger-pointing tirade at a lineswoman Saturday night — and again in a prepared statement Sunday.
“I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA and mostly tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst,” Williams’ latest statement said.
It was released by the U.S. Tennis Association about a half-hour before Williams and her sister, Venus, played in the women’s doubles final, which they won for their 10th Grand Slam title as a team. Given a chance to publicly deliver an apology during the postmatch ceremony, Williams declined.
“I’m a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I’m wrong,” her written statement said. “I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.”
Williams lost her temper after the lineswoman called a foot fault, resulting in a double-fault. That moved Clijsters one point from victory. Williams then was penalized a point for her outburst. Because it happened to come on match point, it ended the semifinal with Clijsters ahead 6-4, 7-5. Clijsters went on to win the championship Sunday.
Williams was fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct and could face further penalties — including a higher fine and a possible suspension — for what U.S. Open tournament director Jim Curley described as her “threatening manner.”
In an interview, Curley also said the tournament considered — and decided against — preventing Williams from participating in the doubles final.
The Williams sisters beat defending champions Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-2, 6-2 Monday for their first U.S. Open doubles championship since 1999. Several spectators in the mostly empty stands showed support for the younger Williams, greeting her with shouts of “You go, Serena!” and “We love you, Serena!”
During the trophy ceremony afterward, Williams drew applause when she said: “I’d like to thank the fans for supporting me through everything. I really, really love you guys and never want to have a bad image for you guys.”
ESPN2’s Patrick McEnroe gave her a chance to publicly reiterate her apology, but Williams said: “I think I said it all.”
When McEnroe followed up by asking whether anything had “clicked” in her head, fans booed, and Venus quickly interjected: “What I think the crowd is saying is, ’Patrick, let’s move on,”’ earning applause.