- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NEW YORK | Serena Williams issued a formal apology Monday for her profanity-laced tirade against a line judge during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters, calling the outburst “inappropriate” and “not the way to act.”

Williams posted the statement on her Web site to clarify previous remarks in which she had expressed regret about the incident without directly apologizing.

“I want to amend my press statement of [Sunday], and want to make it clear as possible - I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the [U.S. Tennis Association] and mostly tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst,” she said in the new statement. “I’m a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I’m wrong. I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act - win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner.”

She went on to say that she hoped to lead by example.

“We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this and be a better person as a result,” she said.

The USTA fined Williams $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct after she was handed a code violation and point penalty on match point against Clijsters. Down 5-6 in the second set against Clijsters and serving at 15-30, the line judge called a foot fault to set up match point, causing Williams to point at the line judge and threaten her with profanity.

Despite the outburst, she was permitted to play Monday in the women’s doubles final, in which she teamed with her sister to beat the top-ranked pair of Cara Black and Liezel Huber. It was the 10th Grand Slam doubles title for the pair and second U.S. Open win.

Williams referenced the foot fault incident during the trophy presentation after the doubles match, thanking the crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for their support.

“I really, really love you guys and never want to have a bad image for you guys,” she said.

ESPN announcer Patrick McEnroe, who also serves as the USTA’s general manager of elite player development, pressed her on the issue, generating boos from the spectators.

“Has anything changed in the last 24 hours? Did something click in your head?” he asked.

Williams laughed nervously, then her sister Venus chimed in.

“What I think the crowd is saying is ‘Patrick, let’s move on.’ ”

In a postmatch news conference, Serena repeated her apology, saying that she hoped to give the offended line judge a “big ol’ hug.”

Venus also came to the defense of her sister, saying: “Everyone’s human. That’s basically what this is. Sometimes we show our emotions. I’m really proud of Serena and how she’s handled all of this.”

Serena could face stiffer fines or other penalties for her behavior Saturday night. The Grand Slam Committee administrator has started an investigation to determine whether her actions constituted a “major offense” that would warrant additional sanctions. Possible penalties include suspensions from future Grand Slam tournaments and fines of as much as $250,000. The administrator, Bill Babcock, told ESPN the investigation could take several weeks.

Some fans have questioned why Williams was still permitted to play in the women’s doubles final. Officials said that a prohibition to play in the doubles would have been warranted only if Williams had officially been defaulted from her singles match.

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