brian earley

Bizarre Ending To Serena Williams’ US Open Title Defense

NEW YORK — Serena Williams excited the US Open in unprecedented fashion Saturday night as she was issued a point penalty on match point for threatening a linesperson who had just called a foot-fault on her. Williams, the defending champion, lost to Kim Clijsters 6-4, 7-5 upset victory to unseeded, unranked mother Kim Clijsters of Belgium, who will face No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the final.

With Williams serving at 5-6, 15-30 in the second set, she faulted on her first serve. On the second serve, a line judge called a foot fault, making it a double-fault. That made the score 15-40, putting Clijsters one point from victory.

According to the Associated Press, Williams, in a fit of anger, screamed to the linesperson, “If I could, I would take this (expletive) ball and shove it down your (expletive) throat.”

She continued yelling at the line judge, and went back over, shaking her racket in the official’s direction.

Asked in her postmatch news conference what she said to the line judge, Williams wouldn’t say, replying, “What did I say? You didn’t hear?”

“I’ve never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don’t know why she would have felt threatened,” Williams said with a smile.

The line judge went over to the chair umpire, and tournament referee Brian Earley joined in the conversation. With the crowd booing — making part of the dialogue inaudible — Williams then went over and said to the line judge: “Sorry, but there are a lot of people who’ve said way worse.” Then the line judge said something to the chair umpire, and Williams responded, “I didn’t say I would kill you. Are you serious? I didn’t say that.” The line judge replied by shaking her head and saying, “Yes.”

Williams already had been given a code violation warning when she broke her racket after losing the first set. So the chair umpire now awarded a penalty point to Clijsters, ending the match.

“She was called for a foot fault, and a point later, she said something to a line umpire, and it was reported to the chair, and that resulted in a point penalty,” Earley explained. “And it just happened that point penalty was match point. It was a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

When the ruling was announced, Williams walked around the net to the other end of the court to shake hands with a stunned Clijsters, who did not appear to understand what had happened.

“I used to have a real temper, and I’ve gotten a lot better,” Williams said later. “So I know you don’t believe me, but I used to be worse. Yes, yes, indeed.”

Lost in the theatrics was Clijsters’ significant accomplishment: In only her third tournament back after 2 1/2 years in retirement, the 26-year-old Belgian became the first mother to reach a Grand Slam final since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon 1980.

“The normal feelings of winning a match weren’t quite there,” Clijsters said. “But I think afterwards, when everything kind of sunk in a little bit and got explained to me about what happened, yeah, you kind of have to put it all in place, and then it becomes a little bit easier to understand and to kind of not celebrate, but at least have a little bit of joy after a match like that.”

Clijsters hadn’t competed at the U.S. Open since winning the 2005 championship. Now she will play for her second career major title Sunday against No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who beat Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-3, 6-3 in the other rain-delayed women’s semifinal.

Full coverage from social networks and other news organizations can be seen and linked below….

SERENA INCIDENT ON YOUTUBE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm-Mj0vjJ_s

ESPN.COM COVERAGE – http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/usopen09/columns/story?columnist=garber_greg&id=4468470

SERENA’s POST MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE – http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2009-09-12/200909121252748398140.html

RICHARD DEITSCH OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED – http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/richard_deitsch/09/13/serena.meltdown/?eref=T1

SERENA’S “OTHER” FOOT FAULT – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jtLUtcL-D8&NR=1

FILIP BONDY OF THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2009/09/13/2009-09-13_serena_williams_exit_from_us_open_semifinal_match_is_no_cause_to_cheer.html

BILL DWYRE OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES – http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dwyre-us-open13-2009sep13,0,5348697.column?page=1

MIKE LUPICA OF THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2009/09/13/2009-09-13_unlike_derek_jeter_mariano_riveras_greatness_cant_be_tied_to_a_number.html

MARK BERMAN OF THE NEW YORK POST – http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/tennis/serena_bounced_after_court_tirade_ITh1PwYKOmkm1Mw90NqHHI

Shockingly, Clijsters In Women’s Final

NEW YORK – Suddenly, too suddenly, Kim Clijsters was back in the women’s singles final at the US Open. She had, it seemed, just loaned out her title for a few years.

But while the Belgian mother earned her semifinal victory on the court Saturday night, the final point in her battle against Serena Williams came when the defending champion was given a point penalty at match point for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Clijsters appeared stricken by the sudden end of a match that had been delayed by rain for more than 24 hours.

“I don’t think she actually understood it was a point penalty, which meant that I lost that point, which meant that I lost the match,” Williams said.

Williams trailed 4-6 5-6 15-30 when she served a fault. On her second serve, a foot fault was called, taking Clijsters to double match point at 15-40.

As she started to the line to begin her next serve, Williams turned and said something to the baseline judge who had called the foot fault. Not content with that, the tournament’s second-seeded player then walked over to the left side of the court, wagging her finger and heatedly talking to the linesperson.

Umpire Louise Engzell summoned the linesperson to the chair and asked what had been said. Then she summoned the tournament referee Brian Earley. After a consultation that included the player, Williams, who earlier in the match had been assessed a code of conduct warning, was given a point penalty.

Because it was match point, Clijsters advanced with a 6-4 7-5 victory.

“She was called for a foot fault, and a point later, she said something to a line umpire, and it was reported to the chair, and that resulted in a point penalty,” Earley explained. “And it just happened that point penalty was match point. It was a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

“It’s unfortunate that a match that I was playing so well at to end that way,” Clijsters said. “I still – to this point I’m a little confused about what happened out there because I was so focused. You know, just trying to win that last point for me.

“So then things ended up ending a little bit different than I expected.”

Clijsters will be heavily favored to win her second straight US Open women’s singles title – the last was in 2005 – when she faces ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark on Sunday night. Wozniacki advanced with a 6-3 6-3 win over another Belgian player, Yanina Wickmayer.

They were finally able to get some matches played on Saturday despite a steady nearly day-long rain. That was much better than Friday, when the entire program was washed out by rain.

Earlier Saturday, Rafael Nadal completed his 7-6 (4) 7-6 (2) 6-0 quarterfinal victory over 11th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.

The match began on Thursday before rain halted play with Nadal leading 3-2 in the second set tiebreak. After waiting all day Friday, the pair finally made it to the court early Saturday afternoon.

Gonzalez lost both of his serves to begin play, giving Nadal a 5-2 margin. And when the third-seeded Nadal won the next two points on his own serve, he had a 2-0 lead in sets.

Nadal then raced through the next six games in 31 minutes, aided immensely by 21 unforced errors by Gonzalez, who finished the match with 59 errors against 37 winners. Nadal, on the other hand, had only 20 winners, 11 coming on his fearsome forehand, but committed just 13 unforced errors.

“I get like afraid maybe in the tiebreakers,” Gonzalez said. “I went for it. I think I did a good play, miss one. The next play I miss another one, then I miss another one.

“What else can I do? I try my best.”

The men’s semifinals are scheduled to be played Sunday, with the forecast for sunny skies and warm temperatures. Nadal will take on sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, while Roger Federer, seeking his sixth consecutive US Open men’s singles crown, will meet fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic.

“He’s good. I think he’s a complete player,” Nadal said of del Potro. “I try to be ready to put one more ball than the rest.”

Clijsters beat Venus Williams in the fourth round and became just the second player to defeat both Williams sisters in the same US Open. The other was another Belgian, Justine Henin, who beat Serena in the quarterfinals and Venus in the semifinals in 2007. Henin, who went on the stop Svetlana Kuznetsova in the title match, has since retired.

Clijsters is riding a 13-match winning streak at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. She won the women’s singles in her last visit to Flushing Meadows, in 2005. An injury stopped her from defending her crown in 2006, then she retired early in 2007, got married and gave birth to a daughter.

The US Open is only her third tournament since she returned to the tennis tour.

“I’ve spoken before about what for me was really important in Cincinnati and Toronto and those tournaments was knowing that I was capable of competing with those top girls,” Clijsters said., “I think that’s where I kind of made a click, but I never really expected to be beating Venus and beating Serena. You try and you try to bring your best tennis, but, no, I mean, you don’t expect things to be going this well this soon.”

She also is the first wild card entry to reach a US Open singles final. Jimmy Connors received a wild card in 1991 when he reached the semifinals at the age of 39.

And Clijsters is trying to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam tournament since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.