This sums up how Serena should be punished from the view of an attorney :
As an attorney, I know assault when I see it.
I also recognize workplace violence--and Serena's behavior in assaulting an official was certainly workplace violence. They were both, after all, working.
(I'm not going to go into the specifics of what Serena said and did. I saw it live. I watched video replays of it. She verbally and physically threatened the small Asian female lines person--and uttered profanities at her. And Serena is highly athletic with Amazonian muscles that could have been augmented by steroid use, threatened the woman three times with her body, her voice, and her racquet. That's an assault.)
Serena needs to be suspended and penalized by the WTA Tour.
The WTA Tour rules are very specific in what the WTA can do to Serena.
I just reviewed the WTA Tour Rules. You can find them at
The "Code of Conduct" (starting at page 225) addresses the "point penalty schedule" (at page 229). The U.S. Open was correct to give Serena a "first warning" when she broke her racquet. And the U.S. Open was correct again in awarding a "point penalty" for the second offense.
The WTA Rules specify that point penalties "must be appealed on site to the Supervisor/Referee, whose decision shall be final." Serena did not appeal that point penalty. That's important. In addition to the "point penalty" that was awarded against her, the officials can also impose monetary penalties. "Any monetary penalties imposed in conjunction with a point penalty may be appealed in accordance with Procedures for Player . . . ." (See page 258.)
There are many penalties and fines imposed in the WTA Rules for Serena's behavior. Interestingly, those WTA Rules then point to "2009 Official Grand Slam Rule Book."
So, we look to the 2009 Grand Slam Rule Book which applies to the four official Grand Slam tournaments--including the U.S. Open.
Grand Slam rules state (at page 42) that audible obscenity subjects a player up to $10,000 for each.
Visible obscenity (page 43) gives you another $10,000 penalty, along with the Point Penalty Schedule.
Abuse of Racquet (page 43) gives another $1,000 violation.
Verbal Abuse (page 44) gives yet another separate $10,000 for each violation. This "verbal abuse" infraction can also lead to the "Aggravated Behavior" charge--which is the big one.
Physical abuse (page 44) also gives a player another $10,000 sanction.
Then there is "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" (page 44) which gives a player another separate $10,000 fine plus a point penalty. (Yes!!!)
Unsportsmanlike Conduct is defined in the Grand Slam Rules as the following:
"For the purposes of this Rule, Unsportsmanlike Conduct is defined as any misconduct by a player that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the Sport, but that does not fall within the prohibition of any specific on-site offence contained herein. In addition, unsportsmanlike conduct shall include, but not be limited to, the giving, making, issuing, authorising or endorsing any public statement having, or designed to have, an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of the tournament and/or the officiating thereof."
Wow! (Serena certainly committed this.)
Most importantly, "In circumstances that are flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or are singularly egregious, a single violation of this Section shall also constitute the Major Offense of 'Aggravated Behavior' and shall be subject to the additional penalties hereinafter set forth therefor." (See page 43 of the Grand Slam Rules.)
Remember this folks, "Aggravated Behavior." This gives the WTA lots of room to toss Serena out of competition for a year!!!! (See page 60 of the Grand Slam Rules.)
"Aggravated Behavior" reads as follows:
"No player . . . shall engage in 'aggravated behavior' which is defined as follows:
1. One or more incidents of behavior designated in this Code as constituting 'aggravated behavior.'
2. One incident of behavior that is flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a Grand Slam, or is singularly egregious.
3. A series of two or more violations of this Code within a 12-month period which singularly do not constitute 'aggravated behavior,' but when viewed together establish a pattern of conduct that is collectively egregious and is detrimental or injurious to the Grand Slam.
Violation of this Section by a player . . . shall subject a player to a fine of up to $250,000 or the amount of prize money won at the tournament, whichever is greater, and a maximum penalty of permanent suspension from play in all Grand Slams and/or the Tennis Masters Cup."
Based on my reading of the Grand Slam Rules and "aggravated behavior," I would recommend that Ms. Williams forfeit all her winnings at the U.S. Open this year, and that she be suspended from competition for a year.
I watched Serena's post-match interview. She was completely unapologetic, arrogant, and self-centered. Wow.
Just now the announcers at the U.S. Open asked for Serena to issue a public apology for her behavior--which she has refused to do to date.
I'm hoping that if anyone has tickets to a womens' double tennis event in which Serena is playing in the U.S. Open (with her sister Venus), that the spectators literally turn their backs on Serena--or better yet--simply refuse to even attend the match.
It will be interesting to see what plays out.
If the U.S. Open and/or the WTA further penalize and sanction Ms. Williams, I believe she will appeal. And if that doesn't work, her dad may place the race card. Always an ugly and needless card to play given the circumstances. Ms. Williams needs to grow up, take anger management classes, eat some crow, apologize, and grow up.
Posted by: attorneygirl | September 13, 2009 at 12:12 PM