All smiles here, but Serena Williams was not so cheery during last night's semi-finals match. Image courtesy of New York Insider TV. Serena Williams really lost it last night. Literally. Midway through this evening's U.S. Open women's semi-finals, she slammed her racket into the court and the net, too, damaging her racket and earning herself a rebuke from the judges. The source of her ire: frustration over losing her first set to Belgium's Kim Clijsters.
Absolutely certain she had not committed the fault (correctly, as the instant replay would show), Serena stormed over to the line judge and reportedly threatened to shove a tennis ball down the judge's throat. The petite line judge, who appeared to be about half the height of the statuesque player, looked genuinely panicked by the outburst. Enter officials. Enter discussion. Enter quizzing of a defiant Serena. Ultimate decision: Her unsportsmanlike conduct would cost her yet another point. In a horrible twist of fate, that particular point was also match point. Serena had lost over two points that had nothing to do with her actual play. Stunned spectators left Arthur Ashe stadium feeling that they had been robbed of a proper conclusion to what only moments before had been a phenomenal show of tennis by both women.
Though she shook hands with Clijsters following the call that gave the Belgian her win, Williams made no apology afterward for her actions, telling reporters: “I used to have a real temper—and I’ve gotten a lot better. I know you don’t believe me, I used to be worse.”
Actually, we do believe Serena. It's just a shame that her McEnroe-like conduct robbed her of the chance at another Majors title. Clearly she's forgotten a lesson all of us learned as kids: nobody likes a sore loser. Had the star exercised some restraint and simply requested a review of the foot fault, she would have been validated. Hinsight is 20/20, but "I told you so" would have been far more satisfying than walking off the court in shame. If only she had kept her cool, the serve could have been replayed and victory would have remained in her reach.
Instead, despite having a name that suggests a state of being serene, tonight Serena Williams was anything but.