NEW YORK – Serena Williams walked toward the line judge, screaming, cursing and shaking a ball in the official’s direction, threatening to “shove it down” her throat.
On match point in the U.S. Open semifinals Saturday night, defending champion Williams was penalized a point for unsportsmanlike conduct — a bizarre, ugly finish that gave a 6-4, 7-5 upset victory to unseeded, unranked Kim Clijsters.
The match featured plenty of powerful groundstrokes and lengthy exchanges. No one will remember a single shot that was struck, though, because of the unusual, dramatic way it ended.
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 — a call rarely, if ever, seen at that stage of any match, let alone the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament.
That made the score 15-40, putting Clijsters one point from victory.
Instead of stepping to the baseline to serve again, Williams went over and shouted and cursed at the line judge, pointing at her and thrusting the ball toward her.
“If I could, I would take this … ball and shove it down your … throat,” Williams said.
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.
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