|Uneven contest: Tennis administrators will ban Serena if her tantrum is repeated [EPA]|
Serena Williams has been put on “probation” and fined a record $82,500 for abusing a lineswoman at the US Open.
The world number one will be suspended from the tournament if she commits any other “major offence” at a Grand Slam in the next two years – while the fine would be increased to $175,000.
Williams lashed out at a lineswoman after a foot-fault call at the end of her semi-final loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at Flushing Meadows in September.
Her fine will not damage her purse too badly however.
The American earned $350,000 by reaching the semi-finals, part of more than $6.5million in prize money in 2009 – a single-season record for women’s tennis.
Her career prize money tops $28million.
In a ruling released on Monday, Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock said Williams faces a “probationary period” at tennis’ four major championships in 2010 and 2011.
He said Williams was handing over $82,500 immediately. It is nearly double the previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offence.
Jeff Tarango was docked about $48,000 in the 1990s.
Williams’ profanity-laced, finger-pointing outburst drew a $10,000 fine from the US Tennis Association in September – the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face.
But because it happened at a Grand Slam tournament, Babcock was charged with investigating whether further punishment was merited.
He concluded that Williams violated the “major offence” rule for “aggravated behaviour.”
During the September 12 match in New York, the foot fault – a call rarely, if ever, made at that stage of such a significant match – resulted in a double-fault for Williams, moving Clijsters onto match point.
Williams paused, retrieved a ball to serve again and then stopped.
She stepped towards the official, screaming, cursing and shaking the ball at her.
Williams was penalised a point for that display, ending the semi-final with Clijsters ahead 6-4, 7-5.