Tennis star Serena Williams has been fined $2,000 for her verbal tirade during the women’s singles final at the U.S. Open on Sept. 11. According to a statement released by the U.S. Tennis Association, U.S. Open Tournament Referee Brian Earley issued Williams the fine, which is consistent with similar offenses at Grand Slam events.
Williams shared some harsh comments with chair umpire Eva Asderaski after the game official issued a code violation, resulting in a scored point being taken from Williams and giving it to her opponent, Australian native Samantha Stosur.
“You ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way. Because you're out of control–totally out of control,” Williams told Asderaski after the code violation was called. “You're a hater and you're unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow. What a loser. You give a code violation because I expressed who I am? We're in America last I checked…don't look at me, I promise you don't look at me cause I am not the one. Don't look my way.”
Asderaski issued the code violation because Serena had shouted “come on” after striking the ball. According to the U.S Open code of conduct, players aren’t allowed to make verbal outbursts while the ball is still “alive” in play. Thus, the point was taken from Williams and awarded to Stosur, who went on to win two straight sets for the Open title.
Serena was awarded $1.4 million in total for finishing as runner-up in the event, so her $2,000 citation won’t hurt much financially. But her behavior may have damaged her public image.
Some fans and critics have begun to speculate whether Williams may have an anger management problem. This is the second time in two years she has had a verbal outburst during a match. She was fined nearly $200,000 in total in November 2009 for slamming her tennis racquet and making verbal threats at an official during a match in the ‘09 U.S. Open.
But according to Dr. William B. Lawson, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine, it usually takes more than two isolated events for someone to be diagnosed with having anger management issues.
Lawson—also the president of the Washington Psychiatric Society, which units are comprised of approximately 1,000 physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illness—told the AFRO that there may be multiple stressful events that have occurred in Serena’s life that could have led to her out outburst on Sunday, whether dealing with frustrations of her most recent injuries or simply feeling the pressure of trying to regain her status as the best player in the sport.
But he isn’t certain her behavior in the Open is mental health related.
“I don’t know Serena personally and I haven’t had an opportunity to evaluate her mental health, so I’m not in position to say whether or not she would need counseling or any other form of treatment for anger management,” Lawson said. “But it’s not uncommon for athletes to have issues managing their emotions, especially during individual sports that incorporate violence such as Boxing."
Lawson said when emotions do flare up and an incident like Williams’ from Sunday occurs, officials should take “immediate action to get the situation in control.” U.S. Open officials took control by fining Williams, but the U.S. Tennis Association stated it would not issue any further punishment.
"After independently reviewing the incident which served as the basis for the code violation, and taking into account the level of fine imposed by the U.S. Open referee, the Grand Slam Committee Director has determined that Ms. Williams' conduct, while verbally abusive, does not rise to the level of a major offense under the Grand Slam Code of Conduct."