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Michelle Turnberg, Published September 18 2011

Turnberg: Serena’s uncool behavior

Sports – I love them – everything from high school football to professional baseball and everything in between.

But sometimes the craziness of the sports world can be tough to relate to, and events last week on the tennis court were no exception.

Tennis star Serena Williams was fined $2,000 for her outburst at the U.S. Open finals. I watched, amazed, that she again lost her cool on a huge world stage.

Serena’s meltdown this time, while intense, was nothing like the tongue-lashing she gave at the U.S. Open in 2009 when she told a line judge: “If I could, I would take this f–ing ball and shove it down your f–ing throat.” The line judge also said Serena threatened to kill her. Serena denies it, but it was on live television. You can see it on YouTube.

During the finals, Serena’s mouth overshadowed her game when she lambasted the chair umpire during her loss to Sam Stosur. “Aren’t you the one who screwed me over last time here? Do you have it out for me? That’s totally not cool. If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way, because you’re totally out of control,” Williams said as she sat in her chair next to the umpire. “You’re a hater and unattractive inside. You’re a loser.” And finally: “We’re in America last time I checked.”

So you can stick your finger in someone’s face and threaten them during a tennis match in America? Unalienable rights, I guess.

Asked at her news conference whether she regretted any of her words, the 13-time Grand Slam champion rolled her eyes and replied: “I don’t even remember what I said. It was just so intense out there. ... I guess I’ll see it on YouTube.”

Keep in mind, Williams earned $1.4 million at the Open: $900,000 for finishing as the runner-up, plus a $500,000 bonus for having come in first place in the U.S. Open Series standings, which take into account results at hard-court tune-up tournaments. Her fine was $2,000. That would be like, say, you finished second in your office’s weekly football pool. You win nine bucks. You also win a bonus for picking the Monday Night game’s final score correctly so you get five more bucks. But you said a curse word when you picked up your winnings so you had to kick-in a two-cent penalty fee.

With stakes like that, you’ll probably curse again.


Turnberg writes a Sunday column for The Forum.