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Dec. 1, 2009

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SERENE LEVIED LARGEST FINE EVER IN TENNIS

Serena Williams

Serena Williams was fined a record $82,500 for her U.S. Open outburst against a lineswoman and could be suspended from the annual New York event if she has another “major offense” at any Grand Slam in the next two years.

Monday’s ruling from Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock said Williams faces a “probationary period” at tennis’ four major championships in 2010 and 2011. If she has another “major offense” at a Grand Slam tournament in that time, the fine would increase to $175,000 and she would be barred from the following U.S. Open.

“But if she does not have another offense in the next two years, the suspension is lifted,” Babcock told the Associated Press.

He said Williams must pay $82,500 right now, already nearly double the previous highest fine for a Grand Slam offense — about $48,000 Jeff Tarango was docked in the 1990s.

Williams cursed out a lineswoman after a foot-fault call at the end of her semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open in September. The outburst drew a $10,000 fine from the U.S. Tennis Association in September — the maximum onsite penalty a tennis player can face. But because it happened at a Grand Slam tournament, Babcock was charged with investigating whether further punishment was merited.

He concluded that Williams violated the “major offense” rule for “aggravated behavior.” The Grand Slam committee — with one representative from each of the sport’s four major championships — approved his decision Saturday.

Williams, currently in Barbados for an exhibition tournament, has been informed of the ruling, Babcock said.


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