* American punished for Flushing Meadow outburst
* World number one put on probation for two years
(adds background, clarifies source)
By Martyn Herman
LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams has been fined $175,000 and put on probation for two years for her foul-mouthed tirade at the U.S. Open, the Grand Slam Committee said on Monday. The committee said a further major offence at a grand slam in the next two years would see her suspended from the U.S. Open in 2010, 2011 or 2012. The fine will be reduced to $82,500 if she commits no further major offence through 2011.
“On 9 November 2009, the Grand Slam Committee administrator determined Serena Williams had committed the grand slam major offence of aggravated behaviour for her misconduct at the 2009 U.S. Open,” the committee said in a statement.
The committee, who are responsible for organising the four grand slam events, met on Saturday at the World Tour Finals in London to discuss administrator Bill Babcock’s recommended punishment.
Williams’s outburst was prompted by an incident in her semi-final against eventual champion Kim Clijsters at Flushing Meadow in September.
Trailing 4-6 5-6 15-30, Williams launched into a second serve but the line judge called her for a foot-fault, meaning the American had served a double-fault to go match point down.
Astounded by the verdict, Williams launched into an expletive-laced rant at the official. She waved her racket in the lineswoman’s direction and then shook a ball in her clenched fist as she threatened to “shove it down” her throat.
Having already received a warning earlier in the match for smashing a racket, Williams was handed an automatic point penalty for a second violation which abruptly ended the match, giving Belgian Clijsters a 6-4 7-5 victory.
Organisers fined her $10,500, the biggest given to a female player since records began in 1990, at the end of the tournament for her unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Williams’s $175,000 fine includes the $10,500 penalty she has already received.
The 11-times grand slam champion issued a statement on the day of the incident apologising for her behaviour, saying she had “handled the situation poorly” although she declined to apologise directly to the line judge.
WTA Tour chief Stacey Allaster said at the time that the American’s conduct had been “inappropriate and unprofessional” while men’s number one Roger Federer said it left a “sour taste for everyone”.
Such was the fall-out that an automatic ban, possibly even from January’s Australian Open, a grand slam she won this year, had been an option.
The only precedent for a player being banned from a grand slam event was when American Jeff Tarango walked off during a match at Wimbledon in 1995 before launching into a verbal attack when he accused umpire Bruno Rebeuh of being corrupt.
Tarango was banned from Wimbledon in 1996.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez. To query or comment on this story firstname.lastname@example.org)
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