“It is a joke” said tennis referee Charles Granville referring to the $2000 fine imposed on Serena Williams for lashing out at a chair umpire in the recently concluded US Open. Mr. Granville, father of American professional tennis player Laura Granville, said that suspending players rather than fining them would make the tennis players behave themselves on court. French newspaper journalist, Cecile Soler said that unless a player goes physical or swears at the officials, he or she should not be suspended. Soler said: “Taking the point away is the biggest thing and that was what the umpire did.”
Williams was down 30-40 in the first game of the second set against Australian Sam Stosur in the final match of the US Open. She then hit a crunching forehand and yelled “come on” before the ninth–seeded Stosur dived at the shot. Chair umpire Eva Asderaki assessed Williams a code violation and a point penalty that gave the game to Stosur. During the changeover, Williams called Asderaki a “hater”, a “loser” and “unattractive inside” saying: “you’re giving me a code violation because I expressed who I am? We’re in America, last I checked.”
Armand Diab, another tennis referee based in Chicago, said that suspension is the ideal punishment. However, he also said that suspension would not be a practical solution as that would mean incurring “lot of revenue loss” for the tournament. Diab said: “It (the fine) is not right or wrong, it’s business”. Diab then said that he had seen cases where men said a lot worse things and have got away with it.
Williams earned $900,000 for her runner-up finish in New York and $500,000 for winning the summer's Olympus US Open Series. Armand Diab described the $2000 fine as a “slap on the wrist” for Williams. Williams was on probation after she had threatened a line judge saying she was going to “shove a ball down her throat” in a semi-final match at the US Open in 2009. ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said “I don't think [suspending Williams] would make much sense because it would penalize the people handing out the punishment."
“What has happened in cricket has not happened in Tennis.” said Granville. Cricket, another British-originated sport, gives the ultimate authority to the on-field umpire. Cricketers are suspended if they don’t respect the officials. Granville then compared the incident to the “two-year ban on first violation” imposed on players who are tested positive for using illegal substances. Granville then likened the incident it to the time taken by players between points. “Do Nadal and Djokovic follow the 20-second rule between points? The importance of players has had a corrupting effect (on the tennis authority).”
Soler, who has been writing on Tennis for Le Figaro for 20 years, called the umpires to be “brave and make the right calls”. Diab, on the other hand, said: “I read the recent article on New York Times which said how poorly the umpires are paid at the US Open”. He said that the tennis officiating profession could be under threat.